the zero-sum view of wealth, the production question does
not even exist; distribution is the sole concern. Under the
creation view of wealth, however, production is the primary
issue; distribution directly follows from it. Man is a
volitional being who can interact with reality solely
through the use of his reasoning mind. Only those who
invested their minds in the production process are
entitled to its rewards. The blacksmith – provided that he
produced the hammer entirely on his own – is entitled to
full ownership of the hammer and the prerogative to do with
it what he will. His suppliers also have full sovereignty
over the basic materials they extracted and refined; these
were the products of their minds, and the producers have the
right to sell them or use them or even throw them away if
they so please. If anybody else attempts to force them to
act contrary to their wishes, this will be tantamount to
coercing the minds of the producers.
It is crucial to note
that the man who invests sheer manual labor in the
production of a good is not necessarily entitled to the full
rewards of that process. Labor is not the primary root of
production; the mind is. The mind determines what to
produce, how to arrange the production process, and what
labor to use. To the extent that labor requires a mental
component to be performed, the laborer should be
compensated. Every human manual laborer has to think about
the task he performs and deliberately orchestrate his
movements; this is why he gets paid. On the other hand,
sheer mechanical labor deserves no compensation; this is why
robots on assembly lines receive no wages.
The man who expends the
most mental effort in producing anything is the
entrepreneur – the individual who conceives of the
product to be made and plans the process of making it. The
entrepreneur is the creator, the organizer, and the
indispensable source of all production. Whether he is a
blacksmith choosing to design and make his own hammer or a
CEO of a multinational corporation choosing to produce a new
oil platform, computer, medical drug, or skyscraper, the
entrepreneur has full rights to the fruits of his production
– once he has compensated everyone else he has hired for the
value of their contributions.
The creation view of
wealth is indispensable to capitalism. Under capitalism,
private property is inviolate; any attempt to "equitably
redistribute" it is deemed unjust and rightly resisted. But
the validity of this system presupposes a certain view of
wealth – a view clearly stating that any
"redistribution" of wealth by anyone but the producers
themselves would only be detrimental, because the producers
would be harmed. This presupposes again that there is such a
process as production and such people as producers, who
engage in it.
Only if the possibility
of wealth's creation is recognized can the premises
underlying capitalism be correct. Of course, it is quite
elementary to recognize – if one observes overwhelming
evidence for it in reality. Does there exist more wealth now
than there was in the Paleolithic Period? If not, what
explains the colossal technologies that people during the
Paleolithic Period did not have, or the presence of
thousands of times more food now than existed then? Unless
one would make the ludicrous assertion that Paleolithic
hunter-gatherers drove automobiles while listening to iPods,
one cannot support the notion of a static "economic pie."
The facts of reality are
inescapable for those who choose to genuinely observe
reality: there exists much more wealth today than there was
five years before – not to mention fifteen millennia ago.
What separates us from caveman savages is the creation of
wealth – our own and that of illustrious minds before us.
When somebody creates wealth, nobody loses. For every hammer
Person X makes, Person Y does not magically lose one.
Instead, everyone is potentially in a better position as
that hammer might be used to build a machine Y will be
interested in buying, or a facility Y will want to visit.
To all those who seek
wealth through special interest group warfare, I say this:
slice up all the pies you like, but bake them first. And
keep your hands off mine!