I’ve had a rather nice few days lately; having taken a few days off work to have an extended weekend of sorts. This allowed me chance to relax, and as such get to read some of the books on my ever increasing todo pile.
So lately Ive had a chance to read The Prince by Niccoló Machiavelli (1469-1527), 1984 by George Orwell (though I’ve already read it before years ago) and Imperialism is the highest Stage of Capitalism by Lenin. Now I always like finance inspired books; my love of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is a testament of that, but it is always nice to see how people perceive the world, and guess at its future. Whether we will all live happily, live under a near dictatorship or whether free market capitalism will prevail.
Now I would advise anyone to read those books as they really are some of the great fundamentals of the modern outlook on the world, heck most of the modern industrial age is played out in The Wealth of Nations. So what are my own views, well we shall get to that In Time…
On Monday I had chance to watch In Time, a film where the pretence is that Time is money; and when you run out, your time is up and you die. To make the concept work, people stop ageing at 25, and so the rich live forever with thousands of years on the clock. The film did however give me the feeling that the script writer had just finished watching Logans Run before writing the plot to this film.
What really got me about the film is they tried to explain free market choices and ‘The invisible hand’ at work but then forgot about it near the end. To keep the poor, poor they would increase prices; simple inflation, but at the end their solution was to steal lots of Time(Money) but all that would need to happen is a simple bout of hyper inflation in the affected regions to restore ‘normality’. As usual this type of film required the mind to be switched off and just sit back and enjoy the action and pretty people.
Overall the concept was great, albeit the execution in a film was short lived – maybe a 6 out of 10 but still watchable. I do have to hand it to Amanda Seyfried for the Hot Legs, strange Makeup award thoughout the film.
So would the concept work, disturbingly enough I think it would as it is a simple and underhand way of population control and wealth concentration, and this leads me back to my views on where I think the future is heading.
When I was younger I read a lot of H. G. Wells, I’ve read most of his works but When the Sleeper Wakes really stood out for its vision of the future. To put the tale simply, a man falls into a coma and his money is invested to a point where he owns the world when he awakes. When I was younger I thought this silly, but ever more I realise this could just happen, with now the top 400 people in America owning the same (~1.5 trillion dollars) as the bottom 155 million, is it so much to believe that the 1% becomes the 0.1 to the 0.01% and so on till it is just 1 person or 1 company owning everything?
Would it be so much to think that in a few years, service companies such as Serco or G4S get to the point where they just buy out the government; they already do most of their services such as rubbish collection, logistics, prisons, even storing some of our nuclear weapons.
From a historic viewpoint, this is where I see Adam Smith and Lenin diverged in their thinking. Adam Smith tried to reason that production would become more efficient and profits increase to these insane levels if tasks were simplified and workers became specialised, overall less work would need to be done. Lenin I feel latched onto this with his retort that this concentration of work removes labour and thus fewer jobs, however he seems to have missed one point. If profit is limited, the workers wages rise proportionally to the increased efficiency, thus need to work fewer hours to maintain their standard of living. These additional free hours can be spread out across the work force meaning everyones standard of living increases while their working hours decreases… alas I digress
I guess the only problem with an optimistic outlook is human greed, the rich will go against chance as it is not in their interest and they have the power to suppress, and so Machiavelli was right all along:
‘Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain’