Monday, April 25, 2011

Sociologist could benefit by talking to me

I'm going to step out on a limb again and say that someone who is supposedly smarter than little ol' me has got it wrong. Again.

In this TED video, sociologist Sam Richards almost gets it right, but then he gets sidetracked and caught in the quicksand of the "progressive" mindset. I'm mostly talking about his first exercise in empathy (in the first 3:30 of the video) where he uses the Chinese and Americans in a thought experiment. Watch at least that part then come back and read the rest here.

If, as in his example, "the Chinese" got fabulously wealthy by mining and exporting American coal back to China, then they are buying it from the property owners. Right? Well, in the absence of government, they would be. That's where he misses the point.

Now, he admits that the Chinese only got access to this coal through political deals with Rulers. Deals that enrich the Rulers at the expense of those who actually owned the coal. Why doesn't he think about who owns the coal, and why they are not able to exercise that ownership? Why doesn't he see where the problem originates? The State is the root of this problem; not the resource or those who acquire it.

Where I think he gets it wrong the worst is that he assumes that the Americans in this scenario would be stupid enough to blame the Chinese people and resent their prosperity when the culprits are the political deal-makers in America. They are the thieves. Politicians are always thieves. They are good at making unaware followers blame someone else, though.

Maybe some people are too stupid to see who is really to blame, but that "political elite" better not bet their lives on it.

Now, watch the rest of the video. The funny thing is that he makes the assumption that you and I haven't already put ourselves in the shoes of those who are defending themselves from violent invaders. Or, am I really that different from you?