To Mooch or Not To Mooch?
Posted by strugatsky 4 years, 1 month ago to Ask the Gulch
59 comments | Share | Best of... | Flag
In a society where most work, produce and don't mooch, the moral choice to be a producer is an easy one. But picture a society where the majority steal, cheat, mooch, and rarely produce. Perhaps like in Atlas Shrugged America or today's America. In the Atlas case, the moral solution was an escape. To the best of my knowledge (or perhaps abilities), this is not possible here and now. So, what is the morally correct action - to continue to produce to prop up and support the moochers, or join the moochers? Maybe not morally, but in actions, for any other choices do not seem possible. Or are they? Thoughts?
But for me, even though at age 52, I am financially able to retire, I would be bored to death.
Although there are many moochers left in America and I refused to produce during the Obama era, I have found a home in Melbourne, Florida where there are very few moochers and not many looters. Moreover, we barely were able to keep the looters and moochers from elsewhere in the state and country at bay, so overall, I am in as healthy an economic climate as I am in a weather climate. It's not perfect. For example, today it is lightly drizzling, and economically, we have our occasional setbacks, too. However, overall, if you choose to evade the looters and moochers by moving here, you will be in a very hospitable place in every way.
For instance, we had a Maker Faire in nearby Palm Bay yesterday. Maker faires are events where you see robots, 3D printers, and lots of future John Galts. If there were a real Galt's Gulch, maker faires would be a very popular festival. I was recruiting future Galts for Florida Tech and showing off our privately funded makerspace education initiative.
After the faire, I went back to the lab and found an Arabic student of mine who is a worthy apprentice as an engineer, but also an entrepreneur. He and two others had pitched me a couple of months ago on a company idea that is merit-worthy but not quite ready for the venture capitalists. They have identified their market need well, but not established sufficient barriers to entry for competitors nor have they put together a detailed business plan. Ten minutes of our mentoring conversation was about establishing barriers to competitors' entry. He already understands well the philosophy necessary to prosper very well.
After the Arabic student and I discussed the computer code we are writing to accompany our hazardous operability study of my tissue engineering test bed research project that will be the initial product of a new company I am starting, he made a well thought out offer to become a minor partner in my company. In addition to the expected sweat/mind equity, he told me that instead of the usual graduation gift of a car that many students ask for upon graduation, he was making an elevator pitch to his (very wealthy) parents for a loan (not a gift) to help kickstart the company's future.
I am considering him for this year's Francisco D'Anconia award for my Nanotechnology Minor Program, but ... he has some pretty stiff competition.
Needless to say, I am optimistic.
But I am very interested in the theoretical solution to my question - what is the moral thing to do, if only the two choices are available? Even if the solution is not perfect (I don't expect it to be), which is the lesser of the two evils?
Understanding the drive for 90% of the people to be involved in collectivism I still think it would be absurdly easy to participate in the program as a political leader or power broker. I would rather be broke and trying to get by on my productive work while preventing as much theft from me as is possible.
Still, it is tempting to think of someone like the Clintons who have never produced anything, provided no services and are worth over $100M.
As to unemplyment insurance, its paid by my company under duress, so I think the company should put that on their ledger. But they dont. If If can get a benefit from it, I would take it and count it against the amount stolen from me.
I think the government is so far ahead in the theft of my wealth, I hardly need to even keep close track. I will just take what I can get.
The ridiculous thing that I do to earn the extra credit is I ask 1 simple question. If they can answer it they get the full credit if not nothing. MY question is, "Who is John Galt?"
I've used my fiscal well being to help others, mainly family and friends, and have provided unpaid technical advice to various aerospace and other people with technical questions. Being relatively healthy, I've been a full time caregiver for my wife, and even helped on occasion with appointments and such for her ex-husband, who has serious medical issues.
The question I have for the Gulch is whether or not a former producer should be lumped in with the others who we call moochers, because the programs that benefit us are now lumped in with all the other social programs under the heading of "entitlements?" I'm not at all resentful or angry when people point out how relatively well off senior citizens who are now not producing are compared to a younger group saddled with outrageous student loan debt and high medical expenses. I'd like to find a way to help those younger producers gain the sense of security that they will be as well cared for when they "age out" of the production system.
The challenge is that there are actually a continuum of people, not 2 types.
On the one end, you have the PURE Looters/Moochers: => Those with LITTLE to no choice/ability!
On the other end, you have the PURE Creators/Makers: => Those, like JBrenner, who create companies, within a system of being looted
And then you have THOUSANDS of positions in between. You have the temporary looter (collecting unemployment benefits), the temporary business owner. The cheats (on both sides).
And if structured correctly, it should look like a bell curve!
I have made up my mind. I have NEVER collected unemployment benefits. But I know poverty well enough that I avoid POSSESSIONS to maintain emergency funding...
The essence of the question to me becomes:
What do you do, when GOVERNMENT and CORPORATE INTERESTS put their foot down on the right side of the bell curve, to kill off THEIR Competition (eg, the shutting down of conservative voices off the internet!), so they prosper and others can't???
And the answer should be close to what JBrenner IMPLIED: I look for the best opportunity the current situation affords me within my values.
BUT, there is a POINT at which even JBrenner would set his fields ablaze and move on (Galt style). That point would probably be (like TrueTheVote), when the ENTIRETY of our government is WEAPONIZED against him, and aimed squarely (and even illegally) at him, his wealth and his family. When they step in, at gun point, freeze ALL of your assets, and lobby false claims against you. (again, in the TTV case, the government had to ADMIT they ILLEGALLY targeted TTV, but then under Jeff Sessions, said THEY WOULD NOT pay TTV legal fees!). Meaning, you can win the moral victory, and be completely looted in the process!
Again, I believe it is HUMAN Nature to optimize your choices/actions to get the most you can for the least risk/loss possible. For many, that is simply being a cog in the wheel, and drinking their beer every night after work.
For me, it is settling for SOME 2% returns, when I know that 6-8% is possible, and having SOME make 20% and SOME make 6% so that all of my risk is not in one place or direction. But watching people get targeted by our government is scary. And recent IRS rulings say "We can use ANY information against you in an IRS court, EVEN IF it was obtained ILLEGALLY!" (This is a warning so that no GALT stands up). It should be ILLEGAL for our government to FREEZE your assets before they PROVE there was a crime committed!
Finally, when the bell curve is so stepped on, as to force everyone into poverty and serfdom, even the CREATORS... You will have a revolt!
I work with Russian Programmers, been there a couple of times, and trying to head back.
It's fun (sarcastically) to watch the Russians laugh at us for being LESS FREE than they are!
If Pinocchio were made now, somehow it would be termed as racist.
Pinocchio could not be a "real boy". He would have to be a translignin (as in having changed from wood).
On the scale of characters within Atlas Shrugged, I am much like Quentin Daniels. I am a professor at a private institute of technology who is not above cleaning the floors so that I can practice my inventive craft.
And yes, I do have a tipping point. I and several business partners came to the conclusion after reading Atlas Shrugged that it was time to sell our biofuels business when then candidate Obama made it clear that he would subsidize our solar energy competition (i.e. Solyndra). I was perfectly happy to make money off of environmentalist guilt, but I learned a valuable lesson in that you really want Gulch-worthy people as customers. People who do not belong in the Gulch will not recognize the value I create as being sufficiently greater than my subsidized competition, whether be it in my former biofuels to chemicals business, my new tissue engineering test bed business, or my professorial position at a private technological university.
I cannot OPT OUT of it. I am self-employed. I still have to pay it.
It is not insurance. It is a TAX/REDISTRIBUTION. Insurance is optional, and you should collect on it, if you qualify.