Geoff Hays died December 19th, 2009 of cancer. Not from smoking. The first time I met him in 1976, he was exiting a woods south of Cheney, Washington where he'd spent the night sleeping between two matresses among the trees. Like several of us in that Cheney crowd, he got sober after that with AA and continued sober most of his life save for a very early slip whose date I can't recall. From that time on, he remained free of alcohol. Though his life never achieved the financial rewards his intelligence ought to have given him, he was the kindest of men. In his later years, he always seemed able to turn any character defect that I said I was struggling with into a positive character trait. He was that kind and that considerate. A physically big man, he was a gentle giant, and I could always count on his compassion and caring. I miss him and love him—a comrade of many years.
RAISING THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE
Here's another comment on the Columbian newspaper website which I recently entered.
I hear you and I understand, but your thinking ought to be broadened. As long as we keep our discussions well within the premises of Darwinian evolution and our appeal is to bottom line of survival and self-interest, all of us will continue to argue and debate and scream at one another like monkeys not long out of the tree.
In the history of humankind, the average worker, be he/she hunter-gatherer fresh out of Africa, carpenter in Nazareth, vassal on a knight's domain, Russian peasant under the Czars, factory worker in 19th Century England or mine worker in early 20th Century America has rarely, if ever, made enough to take care of his daily needs and, simultaneously, put enough away to fare well [welfare] in old age. Unlike monkeys and most mammalian cultures which have rigid dominance hierarchies like ours, conscious humans speak out when they feel unjustly treated. Out of this conscious knowledge of economic unfairness and from Acts in the Bible, the idea of Communism arose as a possible solution to the problem of basic animal genetic inequality. Communism failed because it didn't allow for the selfishness factor that remained even though it was supposed to alleviate Darwinian selfishness. People with the genetic qualities to transcend rose to the top of Communist societies too, but, in those cultures, the democratic ideal was not strong enough and dictatorships arose. Not only that, it's true that some people tried to milk the culture and so didn't work hard and rode along on the labor of people who did believe in communism and worked hard at it.
Capitalism's design seems pretty close to the right economic system to allow for good distribution of goods and services, but it was designed when more than 90% of the people lived and worked on farms and most humans lived in small caring (as long as you conformed) communities . Communism arose in closely clustered human industrial societies where the JOB had become critical to survival because, now, items necessary to survival had to be purchased with wages.
It seems that no matter what economic system humans invent, those with the most aggressive genetic qualities rise to the top (then try to maintain power) while the passive ride along for free and the person in the middle works his behind off and, at the end of life, has to depend on his children to support him. Or he/she depends on charity near life's end.
I'll conclude by saying America's system seems fair enough as long as those with the most favorable genetic inheritance realize, like FDR, that no economic system will allow most of us to retire with dignity unless we all agree that those with the most must contribute, through taxes, to keep the bottom from desolate poverty and to support comfortable old age for anybody who has worked throughout her life at low wage jobs necessary to society.
In any event, our discussions about economics must rise above Darwinian shouting at one another.