Thursday, October 31, 2013

On Needing

Suppose I believe I need you to support me economically.  There are two ways this can happen.  You could directly provide me with those means of satisfying my needs which I believe I need, or you could give me money to buy them.
But what if I don’t trust you to freely give me the means or the money without getting anything in return?  What are my options?

I could offer to sell you some means of satisfying your needs (goods, services, and/or my labor), and hope that you will choose to buy from me.  But this is less than satisfying.  If you choose to not buy, my predicament may be no better than if I do nothing – and might actually be worse.  It may not be possible for me to re-allocate the time and resources I invested in acquiring that which I cannot sell, towards a more fruitful investment.

Thus I would much prefer to convince you that you need to buy the means of satisfying needs which I am selling.  Then I need not fear I will not have enough money to buy those means which I believe I need.  If you are not otherwise compelled to buy my wares, my welfare will rest on your belief that you need to buy them.
What, then, about compulsion?  One possibility is to convince (a) third party to oblige you to buy enough of what I am selling for me to acquire sufficient income to buy what I believe I need. 

Another possibility is to convince (a) third party to exact monies from you and disburse them to me, and not concern myself with offering you anything in exchange.
In any case I will consider any factor which might disrupt my dependence on you to be an existential threat.  I will lash out if anyone calls my wares “unnecessary” or “frivolous”.  I will protest vehemently if sufficient monies are not spent, credit not lent, or taxes not levied.  I will strike back if enough projects are not funded, positions not kept open, or wages not paid.  I will rise up if promised entitlements are not dispensed, benefits do not accrue, or aids are not maintained.

Who among us does not think along these lines?  Are they any less applicable to teachers and snow-plow drivers than roadbuilders and construction workers?  What about business owners and politicians and paid environmentalists?  What about Social Security and Medicare recipients?

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