Prayer of Thanksgiving for Deliverance From COVID

Restrictions are being reduced and the number of patients is declining. It seems to me an appropriate time to give thanks to God for delivering us safely through this pestilential season.


PSALM 94
Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our savior. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his. For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us.

For he is the Lord our God: and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts: As in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works. Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: These always err in heart. And these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.

Amen


The prayer in times of pestilence was pinned from March 18, 2020 until May 18, 2021. The Prayer of Thanksgiving will be pinned for the same time plus one, until July 19, 2022

CCXXXI – What Separates Us From The Apes

This article from SaintlySages is fantastic. That blog has been inspiration for many posts here and they have become a daily must-read for me, I highly recommend them. The topic of this article is creatures both rational and irrational and the way “God governs His creation”.

What struck me is this bit in particular: “As an incentive [for rational creatures] to act in harmony with Him, God offers the reward of heaven for good will, and threatens eternal reprobation for bad will to all intelligent and rational creatures.”

It is interesting that the incentive needed to be transcendent and infinite for the rational creatures. There are two aspects that I want to think about. The first, why the incentive needed to be infinite vs anything else; The second why there needed to be an incentive at all.

It’s a common reminder that Free Will is a divine gift; but along with Free Will comes rationality, which to me implies that rationality is divine as well. This is a higher order faculty, that distinguishes us from the irrational creatures in our ability to “promote [our] own happiness by the pursuit of truth and goodness“, to “act in harmony with God’s motive, plan, and purpose”, or to “substitute [our] own motive, plan, and purpose”. There’s a lot of meat on these bones so let’s take it piece by piece. The core distinguishing factor presented here is the ability to chose the motive, plan, and purpose for which we will act. As motive, the article suggests that pursuing truth and goodness makes us happy, and the fullness of that happiness comes from making the positive decision to act harmoniously with God.

Those who believe we do not have free will, or those who believe there is no transcendent Divine, effectively remove the ability to choose. This is because of the motive. Goodness and Truth make us happy, and their definitions are only properly informed by the Divine. Absent the divine, they become mundane, in the original sense of the word (from munda, “worldly”). And as mundane definitions, they are simple: Eating a meal is good, whatever I think is true. Failure to acknowledge the divine fails to properly order ones motive, and so ones plan and purpose will necessarily be disordered as well–any order could only be accidental, and not a feature of ones actions.

It is this reason that the incentive needed to be divine. When we pursue our own ends, we can naught but pursue worldly ends. This cannot satisfy our divine rationality: it can only be served by something equally infinite. This infinite incentive reminds us what we truly are, as spiritual beings, as images of God. This makes logical sense: Irrational creatures pursue worldly ends and are not governed by their own motives, plans, or purposes, they are merely creatures of instinct, of that “fixed law” which guides them. Removing the divine confines a rational being to the status of an irrational creature, yet with tortuous awareness that we are not maximizing the use of our divine faculties.

The second aspect I wanted to discuss is why we need an incentive at all. I approach the reasoning above without completing it: when we have a choice between motive, plan, or purpose, the choice by definition must have an end. Why are we planning, for what purpose, what motivates us? Absent other stimulus, we will generate our own incentives: feeding ourselves, gratifying our senses, glorifying ourselves, these are all mundane incentives for pursuing our own motive, plan, and purpose. These don’t go away either, so there must be something over and above them that guides the decision. It is this divine incentive which mediates all our decisions for or against God. If we do not acknowledge the divine, pursuing the mundane is very easy, if unsatisfying. Once we acknowledge the divine, pursuing the mundane becomes hard, because we become aware that it is unsatisfying. By aligning our chosen personal motive, plan, and purpose with God’s, we use our divinely gifted rational faculties to their fullest, and the incentive encourage us to make their mundane manifestations ordered to the divine as well.

AMDG

CCXXX – Spiritual Combat and the Genteel Man

I am a history hobbyist, particularly military history, particularly (but not exclusively) the Civil War’s military history. The Civil War captures my imagination because of the intriguing social aspects of the conflict, the military campaigns themselves, the facts and features of the people who fought in those campaigns, among other things.

The title for this blog is itself a reference to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a newspaper (still extant!) which chronicled the Confederate campaigns during the civil war and served as one of many sources for the book Lee’s Lieutenants which I was reading at the time I began this blog. I have described elsewhere that the part of the blog title “Vichy Earth” is a reference to the fact that the earth is occupied by the enemy, but our Divine Liberator is coming and we must keep watch. This martial motif colors my view of the world, both material and spiritual.

These themes come through in my blog at odd times–you could contextualize this space as a kind of officers tent for a volunteer militia in the Spiritual Combat, trying to understand the topography, trying to scout the front, trying to train and reinforce our ranks, trying to cultivate discipline and determination. Mind you–most of these efforts amount to “notes to self” rather than a discrete effort at organization; if there is any benefit which you, the reader, get from my writing, it is a happy accident.

Certain events in my life recently have given me over to thinking about some of these aspects specifically, and it’s on these topics I would like to muse. Perhaps this will be a launch point for more detailed discussions later, but for now let’s content ourselves with seeing where my stream-of-consciousness takes me.


Leadership is the central idea to the thoughts I’ve jotted down for this entry. Not exactly the qualities of leadership–I’ve talked about that before and it’s a notoriously tricky concept to pin down. Rather, I’m thinking about leadership in the sense of character traits that leaders have and which lend themselves to successful leadership. The model of leadership is Christ, our King, to whom we look for leadership in all things; other leaders of note participate in the ideal leadership exemplified by Christ.

One character trait that sticks out when I think about the Civil War generals was that they were gentlemen. By this I mean that they were simultaneously genteel and manly: noble in stature yet vigorous and virile in conduct, especially in combat. As genteel, these leaders had an understanding of decorum, respect–tradition, in a sense. As men, these leaders had an understanding of action, responsibility, of custodianship of subordinates, of command.

These two aspects have been sticking out to me lately because they are virtues in which I need growth. God has a way of alerting us to areas which need work, and I have been made acutely aware of my deficiencies in these specific arenas. Decorum requires an understanding of the context of any situation, the courtesy due to participants in that situation, and proactively seeking to provide comfort to those participants (to protect their peace). Mastering decorum is selfless, because it does not consider the needs of the self but rather the needs of the other. This is a virtue insofar as it glorifies God through proper behavior and demonstrates a love of neighbor.

Masculinity has as its aspects action, responsibility, custodianship, and command. Action in the sense of being a “man of action”–being a “doer“. This has some predicates, among them is taking care of oneself such that one is capable of taking action. A lazy oaf may have many honorable qualities but being unable to act puts him at the mercy of other more actionable men. This gets at the next aspect, responsibility. Responsibility is the sense of ownership of ones charges. Civil War officers were responsible for their units, which means less that they were in charge of their units (that will come later) but more that they embodied the unit. When a battalion performed poorly in battle, the officer took the penalty from the generals. When the battalion performed well, the officer was praised appropriately. Custodianship captures the aspect of being in charge of certain people or things. If the officer is chastised by the general for his unit having poor discipline, he must ensure his unit cultivates discipline and pass that chastisement down to them after bearing it himself. If the officer is praised by the general for excellent performance in combat, he must pass that praise down to them after bearing it himself. As responsible, he leads by example and accepts that his charges actions are a reflection of himself; as custodian he cares for his charges by cultivating discipline and strength in them, to bring out the best in them. The final aspect, Command, represents what JMSmith has described in the comments here as the ability to “give commands as commands”. Command is comfort with and the just exercise of ones legitimate authority. These are all masculine attributes because the absence of any one of these belies weakness. Leadership requires manifold strength, and these masculine attributes promote and encourage that.

I want to dig a little more into this dual attributes of Responsibility and Custodianship. We can see these attributes at work in the person of Christ. He took on our sins and suffered on the cross for them; just as the officer accepted chastisement for the misdeeds of his unit. Christ cares for and encourages us to grow in holiness; just as the officer cares and provides for the soldiers in his care.

In relationships, we are admonished in scripture to love our spouse as Christ loves the Church. This means we must love our spouse with genteel manliness: respectful decorum paired with the masculine attributes I’ve just described. Among our neighbors, we must understand the limits of our authority, without sacrificing the custodial care for those people in our lives who need our aid.


Like it or not, there is a spiritual combat raging in the world. It is a hot battle, and we are all participants in some level. The unprepared should not be overly concerned with it–it is important to spend time in formation before engaging in the spiritual combat. But once you become aware of it, it is difficult not to see it everywhere. The spiritual combat needs leaders: Men with decorum, men who are men. The people in your life need you to be a leader. The people who are suffering at the hands of the enemy need your prayers. Yours, specifically. The spiritual combat is not a fight for conquest–Christ will take care of that when he comes back–but a war of attrition, a war to win souls for Christ and so starve the enemy of the means of evil works.

God has chosen us for these times, you and me. Let’s take up arms and get to the Front.

AMDG

CCXXIX – What is the Difference between Economics and a Gun?

I was on another philosophical sprint recently when Wood applied a much needed splash of reality to my enthusiasm. Following my article about Profit Motive, I wrote a snarky quick-take about “Evil Capitalists”. In that quick-take, I made the claim that “There is no economic system which is inherently good”. Wood’s counterargument was that Communism (as an economic system) is predicated on the the abrogation of private property, which Edward Feser has noted is contrary to Natural Law. A Communist system without that abrogation would cease to be communist, therefore a perfectly formed Catholic (PFC) could not operate a communist system without violating natural law.

This lines up with something I argued in my article on Divine Mercy that every action is either for or against God, everything can be reduced to some kind of Binary. This is what ZippyCatholic refers to in the article provided by Wood in the comments, that it is a fallacy that “formalisms and methods” can be metaphysically neutral, and is one of the lies of modernity.

So, with this preamble, lets tackle the question: What is the difference between Economics and a Gun?


A gun is neutral, because a gun exists apart from people who use guns. A gun can be used for good or evil, but only insofar as it’s operator is either good or evil. A gun thus takes on the character of it’s operator, after a fashion. A gun is evil in the hands of an evil man. A gun is good in the hands of a good man.

I have made the comparison between complex systems and tools because of the idea that a complex system is a kind of tool. Lets turn it into a gloss: Johnny uses the gun to protect his family. [Person A] uses [a tool] in order to [achieve some end]. The tool defines what ends are possible with that tool. “protect his family” is a valid end if the tool is a gun; “eat salad” is not a valid end if the tool is a gun, even if it is technically possible: that’s not what the gun is for.

If we suppose that “Capitalist systems” is a tool, then “public good” seems as valid as “public evil” as an end. The difference lies in the nature of the tool.

A gun is a discrete object that is both definite and actual. Capitalism is neither discrete, definite, nor actual as a thing. Capitalism does not exist apart from the people who are engaged in capitalist acts. Capitalism is almost better described as an emergent property of a barter market, rather than a thing unto itself. So saying that Johnny used Capitalist systems is as nonsensical as saying the gun voluntarily protected Johnnys family without any prompting from Johnny.

Capitalist Systems is more appropriately the subject of our gloss. If the gloss is [Person A] uses [a tool] in order to [achieve some end], then we can substitute in Capitalist Systems for Person A. The subject reduces the available tools, so we can say a tool available to Capitalist Systems is mortgage lending, and that reduces the available ends, so we can say the end of mortgage lending is to provide profit to a bank.

The tool is mortgage lending, mortgage lending is discrete, definite, and actual. Mortgage lending can be done in both Capitalist and communist systems. Mortgage lending can be performed by PFC’s.

Capitalist systems then are not inherently neutral, the reason they appeared that way is because they were in the wrong spot on my framework. Capitalist systems are a collection of agents, whose wills can be good or evil, and whose deeds follow the binary I described previously.

So with this in mind, the question I asked in my quick-take article was “Is there an economic system which is inherently good?” The answer is still no, but for a different reason. Capitalism, as a collection of capitalist agents, has no inherent property which is good or evil, the same way a person has no inherent property which is good or evil. A person makes good or evil choices, and capitalist agents can make good or evil choices, and so aggregated capitalist agents can effectuate good or evil outcomes through their collective actions.

The punchline still works too: If you condemn capitalism as evil, you are really condemning the culture that allows capitalist evil, which includes you. To change an evil culture requires doing non-evil acts, so I say again: Just don’t be evil.

AMDG

(d) – Afterthought on Evil Capitalists

I began my article about Corporate Imperialism by saying that any system peopled by properly formed Catholics can work to good. My recent post about Profit Motive might be seen as a critique of capitalism, but it’s more of a critique of the popular defenses of capitalism.

So there’s a natural question: Is there an economic system which is good?

Because economic systems are systems and they can be peopled by properly formed Catholics and leveraged for the true Public Good, there is no economic system which is inherently good, there are only economic systems which are used for good. Economic systems take on the character of the societies in which they operate.

Which means, when people condemn capitalism as “evil”, what they really mean is the society in which capitalism operates is “evil”. Which is a kind of self condemnation. If you want to change a culture that you consider evil, then don’t be evil.

CCXXVIII – Profit Motive Does Not Imply Public Good

Wood over at his blog “Wood Faileth” has an article that connects to a thought I’ve had but haven’t known how to introduce. If you’ve read my recent Economics thought-sprint then go read Wood’s article and come back here, then I will try to complete my point. Another helpful pre-reading is my brief series on Public Good.

In my Economics series, I pointed out that when the units used to measure everything is dollars, you lose some nuance when you discuss the value of those things. Price is different from value.

In my Public Good series, I pointed out that Good implies proper order, and proper order implies pointing to God. That which is good is ordered to God; the Public Good is that which orders the public to God. There was a separate distinction though, that public good as it is used colloquially describes those things which society likes. So I will call socially approved things “Public Like” and things which are properly ordered to God “Public Good”.

In Wood’s article, he uses the example of Madison Avenue to point out the silliness of complaining about “Evil Capitalist Greed”. Madison Avenue is hardly the paragon of the social benefits of Capitalism, yet is a striking example of a some kind of order (I make no judgement on whether it is properly ordered or not–just that it reflects some order). People use Madison Avenue as a straw man because they think it is Evil–Wood accurately points out that most people these days hate beauty, and so hate order, and so reject that order; People use Madison Avenue as a straw man because they think it is Capitalist–Wood points out that it is hardly the best example of rampant capitalism available to us.

With that as preamble, we can now dig into some of the meat and potatoes of this article.

The First Law: Markets Are Efficient

A common defense of capitalism you may have heard is that profit motive accomplishes the public good. This is half true: Profit motive accomplishes the “Public Like”. When people say profit motive accomplishes public good, what they mean is that market forces will reward those people who help society, and will punish those people who harm society. Again: this is half true. In evidence, lets look at the fact that people pay money for pornography. The profit motive here is rewarding purveyors of sin. This is not good in any way; but this particular sin is currently not objected to by society, therefore falls within the “Public Like”, and is not prohibited. Profit motive of pornographers thereby advances that which society already approves. The sum of all things which society approves is it’s culture. Therefore profit motive perpetuates the culture in which the profit motive is deployed.

A rejoinder by the capitalist interlocutor may be that Profit Motive has many other benefits as well. Wood’s article points to one: plummeting prices through competition; I will add innovation and technological advancement as another. Profit motive leads to Entrepreneurial problem solving: If you can make money by doing something better, then eventually most people will do things better, until you can’t make any money doing that thing.

In my Economics Sprint, I pointed out that Entrepreneurial problem solving is a way of utilizing available resources to solve problems, and is not necessarily a way of benefitting society. Again: the first pornographer was using available resources (shamelessly sinful individuals) to solve the problem of satisfying demand for autoerotic voyeurism. Entrepreneurship is not inherently aligned with Public Good, but is aligned with monetizing resources in a way which society approves. Competition just means resources can be monetized in a way which is also accessible to society.

This is the first law they teach in economics classes: Markets are efficient, or Markets Work. This is absolutely true, but markets are not clearly defined. One person looking for pornography represents a market. If an entrepreneur thinks he can make money from it, he can enter that market and satisfy that demand. Markets are efficient, but markets are not inherently good.

Mining for Money

An important thing to note here is that Money is itself a resource, and is not a mere unit of measure, is not mere points. In a previous article I disambiguated a things value from its price. This allows us to do two things: Look at all transactions as bartering, and to look at all transactions as exchanges of value instead of exchanges of goods and services for money.

Looking at money as a resources explains a little bit of the American Venture Capital scene these days. There are huge sums of money being thrown around to start-ups, and the reason for this can be seen in my definition of Entrepreneurship: It is a way of utilizing available resources to solve problems. Money is a resource that, in the venture capital world, is abundant. Those who seek venture capital dollars are simply trying to find a problem which that resources can be deployed to address. Because the people who control that resource are members of society, that resource will only be deployed in ventures which align with the “Public Like”.

The Alternative

The reason the axiom “Profit motive = public good” has gone unexamined for so long is because it hints at a fundamental truth without actually arriving at it. Markets seek an equilibrium, and this line of economic thought is predicated on the idea that people make strictly equal exchanges: A given product is sold for the maximum price someone is willing to pay, and that must be no less than the amount it cost to create. The value, expressed in units yap, is always exchanged at a value gain, or a yap profit. The example I used previously was that a Canoe was on sale for $100 and I saw it, wanted it, and bought it. I like canoing, so the Canoe was 5 yap valuable to me, and in order to acquire that 5 yap value, I need only hand over one paper bill, which is only 2 yap valuable to me. The net exchange for me is +3 yap. For the seller, he does not want the canoe anymore, it is 1 yap valuable to him, but with a paper bill he could pay his rent, so the paper bill is 4 yap valuable to him: a net exchange of +3 yap.

This makes logical sense: If the canoe was more valuable to the seller than the money he would get for it, he would not make the exchange. If the money were more valuable to me than the canoe I would get for it, then I would not make the exchange.

However, we cannot stop here and say simply that “Value motive = public good”. The value scenario can still accommodate a person seeking and buying pornography, instead of a canoe. This digression about Value thus is interesting and descriptive but doesn’t change the results of our analysis. We must apply additional steps to arrive at some economic activity which truly implies public good.

Can I Exchange Rai Stones for Public Good?

Public Like can be anything, Public Good can only be that which points to God. The true issue at hand is cultural, and not economic. Can economics be used to wag the dog and change a culture from one that approves of pornography to one that condemns pornography?

Regulation is not the answer, because Laws follow that which a society already believes. Economics can only be leveraged to solve economic problems, and because the Public Like currently includes sin and godlessness, that is a social–and so cultural–problem. Culture can only be changed on generational timescales, and is less of a marketplace and more of a war. One culture must dominate and destroy another in order to replace it. The alternatives are only cultural victory, cultural secession, or cultural death.

So the answer is that there is no economic motive that promotes the public good unless the culture is already aligned to God. The levers for changing culture are to either outwit or outlast the dominant culture: Outwit through conversion, or outlast through having many children.

TL;DR: Profit Motive does not imply public good, therefore have lots of kids.

AMDG

CCXXVI – Rules for Catholics to Grow in Self Mastery

1.) Master the Fundamentals

I. Pray Often. No matter how much you pray, you can pray more. Make it a habit. Make it important. Pray like your life depends on it. Understand that your life does, in fact, depend on it.

II. Fast Regularly. Or practice self mortification, as appropriate or as advised by your spiritual director. Deny yourself little things, consistently. Train yourself to sacrifice, and train your mind to remember the purpose is Holy.

III. Avail yourself of the Sacraments. Go to Mass. Go to Confession. Be involved in your parish. Worry about your soul, and the souls which are daily around you.

2.) Invite God into your Life

IV. Acknowledge God in your Successes. All good things come from God. It is a privilege to experience success in this earthly life–we could all very well be tested the way Job was tested, we are blessed to experience anything else.

V. Invite God into your Failures. God can help us. We don’t have to go it alone. God knows the help we need better than we do. Ask God for help, and quiet your heart to hear his answer.

VI. Protect your Peace. Never let the daily highs and lows of life divert you away from the narrow path. You will be tempted by good things: Train yourself to decline them. You will be discouraged by bad things: Train yourself to see God working in them.

3.) Give your Life to God

VII. Find some way to work for the Church and do it. Forget yourself in the service of others. Train yourself to give sacrificially of your time and effort. Self Mastery is to ignore your own inclinations until you forget your own inclinations.

VIII. Detach from mere Things. Give sacrificially of your money and possessions in the service of God. Accumulate your treasure in Heaven, give away your treasure on Earth. Things are just things, souls are eternal.

IX. Ask your Priest what he needs. Support your priest, and offer your services to him. He will know best what problems exist in the community, or what problems exist in the parish. Find a way to help.

4.) Point to God through your Life

X. Treat your faith like it is important, and encourage those around you to do the same. Sometimes your example will be enough. Lead people to Christ, through your every thought, word, and deed. Practice your faith joyfully, never apologize for it, be willing to suffer socially for it. Stick out. People will notice, and ask you why you seem different.

AMDG

CCXXV – Facing Fears

Fear is an instinctive response to the unknown, uncertain, chaotic, or uncontrolled. Generally speaking fear is also mortal in nature–we fear most those things which can kill us. So we fear things like heights because we can fall and die; we fear lions because they can attack us and kill us. Both represent unknowns of some variety, and both represent some mortal danger. Fear could be construed as a desire to live.

Bravery is the practice of facing mortal peril. Bravery requires mental fortitude such that the desire to live does not outweigh the desire to face whatever mortal peril one is confronted with. A soldier is brave because he knows he is in danger yet marches forward anyway.

Anxiety is a response to potentialities and not actualities. Anxiety simulates fear, but is not an act of the will but instead an act of the creative intellect. Anxiety foresees mortal peril, without being confronted by it. One fears an actual crazed gunman, one is anxious that one of the members of the crowd is potentially a crazed gunman.

The contrary action to Anxiety I believe could be described as stoicism. Stoicism is primarily concerned with actualities, and reacting properly to them. Anxiety invents and adds information to a scenario, Stoicism actively prunes invented information from a scenario. A stoic can still face fear, and stoicism can encourage bravery, because those are actual mortal perils.

Underlying both stoicism and bravery are the cardinal virtues: Prudence, to understand the actual nature of a situation; Fortitude to endure despite ones mental inclinations; Temperance to control ones mental inclinations and prevent their expression; Justice to respond to a situation rightly.

Aristotle says that to acquire a particular quality one must do particular things. A brave man performs acts of bravery. A stoic man performs acts of stoicism. I don’t know that one ever ceases to feel fear or anxiety, but rather we probably acquire the proper measure of them. A Roman axiom, I believe, was that when you fight the same enemy often enough you teach them how to defeat you. So to with fears: A man who avoids fears won’t know what to do when confronted with one. A man who faces fears will be well prepared for the occasion.

Mental fortitude of some variety lies at the heart of all virtues: One must have full control of ones faculties in order to direct them fully to the service of God.

AMDG

CCXXIV – The Necessity of Meeting Demand

Here is a better way of talking about the concept I’ve been refining over the last few articles: Before a country can export internationally in a healthy way, it’s domestic demands must be met. I want to talk about reasons why this is good, and one reason why not doing this is bad.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a great reference for human necessities. I won’t vouch for it as a scientific framework but as a rule of thumb I’ve gone back to it multiple times. We can expand this model to apply to entire nations. For a nation to be stable, it must first be meeting the physiological needs of its people: A geographical region with no potable water will not sustain a people, for example. Water sources, food supply, a means of constructing shelter, some healthy family culture, these are basics for a given people to form a cultural bond, and for that people to live in a given geographical area. Next up the hierarchy is safety: A people must be able to defend themselves, and the geography must be suitable for the purpose too. One of the reasons Poland has had such a hard time historically is because it’s geography is not conducive to defense: It has mountains in the south and plains in the north and no obstructions between the superpowers that have occupied it’s east and west. Safety also implies security–economic security, employment, some mechanism for personal property, some means of exchange. Everything above this point has a lot to do with attitudes and at a macro-scale, cultural cohesion: Love and belonging implying a sense of patriotism, Esteem implying a sense of self respect, and finally Self Actualization implying a sense of fulfilled purpose.

For a developing country, physiological needs are obviously fundamental. We frequently hear stories of people in some countries traveling for miles to get clean water, or going days without a meal. We have already talked about means at our disposal to assist with this problem: We can lend a people money, if they have a profit motive to provide these necessities; we can give a people the necessities themselves and let them focus on their other needs; we can provide a safety net so a given people don’t have to worry about exigencies; or we can train them in skill sets conducive to satisfying the necessities in their community. There are ways each of these can work and each of these can fall short. I propose that the best mechanism is to find a way to assist a people to acquire the skills or tools required to exploit their own resources to satisfy their own needs.

Let me expand on that for a moment. If I bring food from outside a given country and deliver it inside a given country and feed people, this creates dependency. No one has developed skills of providing food, and when the external supply of food goes away the population reverts to it’s original foodless condition. Any food production resources available go unexploited when the skills or tools are not available to that population.

This same paradigm is true for every demand of a given society. If there is a demand somewhere that is not being met, that nations own resources must be used to satisfy it, so that the knowledge is retained by that nation, the tools are developed by that nation, the costs are borne by that nation and the rewards are retained by that nation. People can be trained to mine gold, but if people are starving in the streets then what good would that do? Demand for food is prior to demand for gold. When physiological economic demands are met within a nation, then the quality of life and standard of living have improved and the country can ascend Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Consistent effort along this line of thought, over time, ensures that all of a nations demands are met, and eventually that nation will begin producing a surplus. This surplus can be exported and used to meet demands in other countries. Again: If a country is mining gold and selling it internationally, what good is that if people are starving in the streets?

In previous articles the way I have said this is that value must be extracted, transformed, and retained by a nation first before it makes its way to secondary export markets. Value, by definition, is something that is demanded, something which is valuable to someone else. Gold is not valuable to people who don’t have food. So if value is being produced in a given nation, by definition demand is being met. The retention of value necessarily improves standard of living and quality of life. If value is exported first, then that is satisfying demand external to the nation in question, and so not helpful.

This is a good point to talk about why Corporate Imperialism and/or exporting resources first is a bad thing. In my graduate program, I took a class about international supply chains. I had to write a short paper about the textile industry and their operations in Bangladesh. The specific firm in question sends American cotton to a Bangladeshi factory to be turned into American shirts to be sold in America. The value exchange here is Bangladesh supplies cheap labor and money flows into Bangladesh from America. Bangladesh has no need for the shirts, does not get the benefit of the cotton, if they produce cotton in Bangladesh it is not one of their primary industries. Add on top of this the fact that race-to-the-bottom cost competition leads to enormous mills being created with slapdash safety standards, which lead to a national tragedy in 2013. So in other words, Bangladesh bears the risks of manufacture, while America gets all the benefits. American farmers sell the cotton, American consumers get the shirts, Bangladesh gets money. No value is being generated by Bangladesh for Bangladesh in this example.

There are some cases where the core resource is provided by the host country, which is worse still. If Bangladesh produced the cotton, for example, then that Cotton would be extracted and not used for the satisfaction of demand in Bangladesh, and so deplete the country of resources in exchange for mere dollars. This whole paradigm is a bit like asking your neighbors to paint your fence, but asking them to buy the paint and brush and also to build the fence. You get all the benefit, but your neighbors must bear the costs. The paradigm relies on your neighbors wanting your money more than you want the fence.

If there was a single concept which captures all scenarios I’m talking about here, it’s the idea of Custodial Majority. It is the responsibility of those in the majority or those with plenty to care for in a beneficent way those in the minority or those with scarcity. The developed world, as such, has a responsibility to care for and go to the aid of the developing world–not in a careless way, but in a way that seeks to raise up their neighbors. The only way to raise up ones neighbors is to find out what they need, the best way to get them what they need is to help them get it themselves.

AMDG