|The Glories of Competition
||[May. 17th, 2008|12:44 pm]
The news story about the couple from Mumbai, India, who were planning their dream home, a 400,000 square foot skyscraper costing about two billion dollars and employing a staff of six hundred, precipitated huge screams of protest from the Left and vast approval from the Right. The Bogus Economist finds himself, as usual, somewhere in the middle.
Sure, there is a somewhat gritty taste in the mouth at the thought of something like this in the midst of some of the most crashing poverty in the world, but everyone knows India is profiting mightily as the Best and the Brightest, having gotten a fine education at American colleges and universities, journey back to the Land of the Ganges to make some serious money at companies that have deserted the U.S. for even lower taxes and even cheaper labor.
One of the more serious consequences of the George W. Borrow presidency has been the upending of the traditional world view of America as the land of innovation and experimentation. As we relied more and more on foreign banks to prop up our unending pursuit of profit, we have employed less and less of the priceless "American Know-How" that once set the pace for the world. Whereas we once relied on the competitive spirit to produce products that could change and improve the lives of our citizens, we now prooduce carbon copies of what has already proven successful, adding only the phrase "all-new" to the ad copy.
Consider our automobiles, once the standard of the world. When I was a kid, I prided myself on being able to tell the make and year of almost anything on the road. Now, they all look basically alike, primarily because they're mostly made in the same place - somewhere else - and/or owned by multinational corporations who are scared crapless to do anything new until polls have assured them the public will buy what they're selling. Next, they have to buy enough legilators to make sure that the government (taxpayers) will reimburse them if they make a mistake and lose money. The easiest way to get this done is to pursuade the lawmakers to consider alll those poor workers who won't be able to support their families if, for example, Bear Stearns is allowed to go under. Considering the poor CEO, who walks away with a few million dollars worth of golden parachute, doesn't enter into it.
Competition, except among the super-large corporations, is mortally ill and in danger of extinction. This is why the two billion dollar home in Mumbai is just what the system needs. Think of it this way:
We seem to be living in a society where there's a one-to-one relationship between human worth and net worth. The more you have, the better you must be. The guy with the Bentley wants the Rolls. If my car costs $150,000, it must be better than yours at $125,000. Yachts keep getting bigger since 150 feet is better than 100. Therefore, when word of the two-billion buck pad starts spreading, the old competitive juices start flowing. If Man A is the fifth richest person in the country and builds a 400,000 square-foot house, the guy who is the fourth richest starts thinking, "Four hundred thousand? That's a doghouse! He wants big, I'll show him big!" Whereupon he assembles his architects to start designing the 600,000 square-foot residence across from the Taj Mahal in the shape of a gigantic "I."
The third richest, looking on with interest, decides building something that big takes too long, so he simply purchases the Los Angeles Colliseum and has it shipped.
The second richest, sensing that he's in danger of being eclipsed, buys Australia and has a dome put up over it.
By the time the contest is finished, hundreds of thousands of people are employed by some of the richest people in the world whose main desire is only to get richer than the next guy. The system benefits immensely since an entirely new layer is constructed over the old, tired labels of "millionaire," "dekamillionaire," "centimillionaire" and "billionaire." Now we can have "mansionnaire," "chateauner," "palacite," "skyscrapian" and "trumper."
As for the richest guy, he has to think a lot, but finally comes up with his own solution. Above the entrance to his own, private city-state, he puts up a sign:
"Let Them Eat Cake."