Marc Cuniberti: The outcry against progress
Remember the “Promise of Progress”?
Man will improve manufacturing methods, streamline methodologies, develop faster computers, grow bigger apples and do it faster, and we would all have more leisure time to sit by the beach and contemplate the meaning of life.
Well, most of that happened, except for the last part. We did get faster computers, better growing and manufacturing techniques, and improved just about everything we did. Heck, we can even talk to each other on the phone from the top of Mount Everest or research the entire contents of the now defunct Encyclopedia Britannica while sipping a latte at the local coffee house.
Despite all this, we seem to have to work harder than before, work longer than before, and still can’t seem to make ends meet.
I seldom see any discussions about the thwarted promise of progress.
Perhaps we’ve all forgotten. But this analyst has not and asks the question: What went wrong?
Seemingly, whenever mankind figures out a way to make things cheaper, faster or better, somebody eventually wants to tax it, alter it or break up the company that does it.
Either that or those that fail to compete complain enough to somebody and then the subsidies come out that sustain the old methodologies, and therefore the higher costs and subsequent waste of our natural resources.
Examples are everywhere.
Amazon excelled at making things cheaper through widespread pricing awareness and now those threatened by it cry foul. Apple made phones wanted by many and now finds itself in front of the powers that be to answer for its “crimes.” WalMart, Costgo, Sams Club and a host of other big box stores and mega-chains suffer the slings and arrows of those who can’t compete and then find mandated (and usually arbitrary) costs attached to their products under the guise of fairness.
The list goes on and on.
Next will be that as the automated robot replaces more and more people (and their costs) I have no doubt a robot tax will soon follow and probably an ongoing one at that.
It seems like being too successful is not allowed.
Get too big or sell too cheaply and prepare to be roasted. Find a way to make things faster than the next guy, and you can expect somebody in the ivory halls of the state or the Feds to find a way to make your goods or services expensive again through some sort of “tax” or “retribution“ payment.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against taxes, but I am a fan of sitting by the beach, and when I was growing up, I believed in the promise of progress.
Not so now.
Anytime something gets cheaper or better, the “better” parts stays around but the cheaper part doesn’t last long.
Rising prices now seems the norm, no matter what we do, brought about by either inflation, taxes, fees or surcharges.
Seems like competition is becoming a dirty word, that innovation eventually leads to handcuffs, or that novelty leads to complaint.
Have we forgotten that improvement in its many forms is a good thing?
True, some may be displaced as that very same improvement obsoletes methodologies and dries up revenue streams resulting in failing businesses. But this is the natural progression of innovation.
Capitalism calls it “creative destruction.” Most people just see the destructive part, and fail to see the creative part. The creative part is what brings about the promise of progress, the lower cost or better mousetrap, and forces those run over by innovation to become more efficient and find a better way to do whatever it is they do.
And there lies the real benefit to mankind. Better or faster equates to “more efficient.” More efficient means less using less resources, whether it be power, materials or even time. All those add up to using less of our planet’s resources.
Less resource consumption (efficiency) means more product being available to more people (like food), less pollution, less greenhouse gases, and a more sustainable world.
That the powers that be don’t look past the outcries of those temporarily displaced by the promise of progress is to the detriment of mankind and the planet he inhabits.
Marc Cuniberti holds a B.A in Economics with honor from San Diego State University and is the hose of Money Matters carried on 66 stations nationwide. California Insurance LIc# 0L34249. Call him at 530-559-1214 or visit http://www.moneymanagementradio.com
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