First: the qualification: I am not a historian (which means that you should check every point here that interests you) but I occasionally take some time to read history.
History is an interesting field because for almost every event you read about, not only were you not there, you don’t know the specific context of why and how things evolved. You get the perspectives of people who got the perspectives of people who most often weren’t there and don’t know the full context. As a result, I TRY to take in everything I hear and read about with some measure of thought.
I know that I can walk down a short street with ten different people and, at the end, get ten different ‘stories’ about what was going on on the street and what things looked like. I also know I can sit in a circle with a group of people who start a whispered (and very short) ‘story’ and when the last person recounts the details of the ‘story,’ the ‘story’ most often will sound very different than the original. Each person and each group and each generation has its own ‘filters’ … they hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see. And that’s in a single day. Bear that in mind as I recount ‘some history.'
When the United States was founded, the nation’s forefathers and foremothers didn’t just found a nation: They founded a value system. The (mostly) men who debated the merits of different forms of government many times disagreed vehemently. For as different as they were, the one single thing they agreed upon was that there is strength in a unity that allows for differences of opinion.
All of them valued education and science and civility (in a national sense – they themselves weren’t always so civil).
They (or their forefathers) came from nations overrun with poverty: They valued trade and commerce and wealth creation.
They came from nations where religious persecution was the norm and people routinely fought wars in the name of religion: They valued freedom of religion.
They came from nations where people were not ‘rewarded’ based upon merit but by rank and social standing: They valued creativity and ingenuity and hard work and rewarded all three.
The question is: Are these values economic multipliers? I believe they are.
Some of our nation’s founding fathers worried about ‘entertainment’ so much that they thought about banning plays (the entertainment of the day). Obviously this never happened but some thought that if people got so caught up in entertainment, they wouldn’t get any work done. I myself have always thought that the United States had Prohibition (the ban against alcohol) because legislators thought that not enough work was getting done and too many women were getting beat up. The world has changed a LOT.
Now, because I am a woman, I have ‘woman’ filters. When I read history, I am fascinated by the fact that Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams, a prior President) ran the equivalent of a large factory farm (with property, employees, contracts, and production) during the time her husband was helping build the nation. At a time when women didn’t have property rights, she kept reminding her husband that if they didn’t give women property rights (ultimately the nation did), if he passed away prematurely, she would be left with nothing. This probably mattered even more to her since a son became an alcoholic and died prematurely.
Even more interesting to me is that now that they’ve established genetic links among people who are predisposed to addictions like alcoholism, I always wonder whether John Adams himself wouldn’t have been predisposed to becoming an alcoholic if he hadn’t been so darn busy. The guy was an exercise fanatic (swimming was a passion) and he constantly was busy with a multitude of political projects. He tried to warn his son about drinking too much. Perhaps he recognized at a young age that he could either help found a nation or sit on a bar stool drinking himself to death.
Recently I read a story entitled Candide by Voltaire. It’s fiction (from the mid 1700’s) but it gives a good sense of the ‘sensibilities’ of the people in the nations our forefathers and foremothers came from. If you travel back to the 1600’s and 1700’s you’ll read about ‘rape and pillaging.’ Candide is a fascinating tale about where we’ve come from and what nations can devolve to. Whenever the people of the world think that we have ‘evolved enough,’ a case like Rwanda comes along or we read about the gang rape of some woman somewhere.
If you ever read Candide, you can understand why THIS nation’s forefathers and foremothers valued monogamous (one sexual partner – and preferably after making a longterm commitment) relationships so much. They came from countries where sexually transmitted diseases (many times transmitted during the ‘rape and pillaging’ parts of history) were major problems. People died so young though, from so many different kinds of things, that many of those deaths probably just ‘blended in’ with all the others.
In this day and age (in the world of advanced science), we know that NOT staying in monogamous relationships can not only increase every partner’s chance of getting a sexually transmitted disease, but also cancer.
Now, our nation’s founding fathers tended to be practical people. They tended to favor ‘science’ which favors probabilities. For instance, they might have thought that even though they were Christians and didn’t believe in anything ‘gay’ – particularly the morality of it, gay marriage was a ‘practical’ thing. Diseases don’t tend to spread in monogamous relationships. Likewise, if gay people were encouraged to BE in monogamous relationships which fit with who they were, they would be much less likely to marry one of their heterosexual sons or daughters and then have ‘sex on the side’ – increasing their own child’s chances of getting cancer or some other disease.
I mentioned one time that I am a ‘social misfit’ (and was clearly quite isolated when I was young). I didn’t know that gay people existed until I was in college and subsequently found out that if you have ‘techie’ interests and you’re a woman, you MUST be gay (I’ve always wondered whether this cut down on my rather limited social life). Of course, I have always ‘stood in awe’ of the ‘intelligence’ and ‘knowledge’ of people who’ve never even met you – I always wonder what books they read that make them so ‘smart.’ Perhaps I’ll get a chance to meet them someday and they can tell me.
Anyway, getting back to those ‘pretty darn practical’ people – our nation’s founding fathers: I’ll go back to something that I wrote earlier:
For as different as they were, the one single thing they agreed upon was that there is strength in a unity that allows for differences of opinion.
Economic Multipliers (9)
Do you know what these are?
I will say this over and over again: These determine whether we CREATE wealth in systems.
A nation’s value system can be an economic multiplier.