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Predators and producers

There are producers, and there are predators. In ancient times, agrarian cultures were the producers. They farmed, they shepherded, they ranched, they fished, they made pottery and tools and boats, raised camels and goats, traded spices and gold, and whatever else. But the producers were perpetually harassed by predator societies. The Midianites regularly raided Israel and stole their grain, for example, which is why Gideon was hiding his harvest in a spider hole.

Based on my amateur understanding of history, there seems to have developed a sort of pattern by which the predator nations grew purely parasitic, forced their “hosts” out of production, and then died out.

Here’s how it worked. The predators raided their neighbors’ farms, stole their grain and women and made themselves all kinds of odious. Since plunder was more profitable than farming, they gradually stopped farming their own land, or to the extent it got farmed at all, they enslaved conquered people who did it for them. Once they reached the point where a big wedge of their national sustenance was comprised of plunder, the empire was no longer capable of self support. They had the swords, chariots, and glory but were in fact a dependent people. Real production is difficult, takes development time, so they had to devote more to conquest just to accommodate normal population growth. That would mark the turning point that led to toppling the empire even though the end would be a long way off.

Once the predators amped up their operations, the effect on neighboring nations was to force them out of the fields and into a costly military posture to defend their lives and property. This meant production went down. With the producers making less and the predators making nothing, everybody was fighting for a shrinking pie. That led to more conflict and even less production, and so on. This vicious cycle spiraled down until the whole thing collapsed.

I’m wondering if a similar process is happening to America. People receiving money from the feds are our society’s predators. They don’t produce. They just take. They ask Congress for entitlements in exchange for votes, and Congress happily delivers by taxing the producers and handing over their earnings to the predators. The predators know who’s buttering their bread and vote accordingly. The Congress knows its power base and redistributes wealth accordingly.

In response, the producers must mount a defense of sorts. They begin to cheat on taxes, cut salaries, hire illegal aliens, move jobs overseas, lay off workers and put the rest on unpaid overtime, hire mob accountants to keep their books, cut safety, delay investment, sell out to overseas companies, and pay bribes to their congressmen – all in an effort to stanch the bleeding. It robs energy and substance from the producers. They produce less. Layoffs in particular shift people from the producer category to the predator category. Instead of society working to make its pie bigger, an ever growing number of people begin quarreling over a bigger hunk of the same pie. And in America over the past couple of years, the pie has actually shrunk a little.

Not coincidentally, over those same past couple of years — and for the first time in our history — there are actually more voters in the predator category than in the producer category. This means most Americans depend on the government to some extent for their support. This is the turning point I described above. Once they become dependent on political predation, they must continue it to eat or intensify it to improve themselves. This is how the cycle gets going.  It’s not the end — yet — just the turning point where the cycles of decline and plunder get going in earnest.

Now that America’s permanent “taker” class now outnumbers the producers, what are the chances the takers will be satisfied with ObamaCare® and stop demanding everlasting growth in entitlements? What are the chances Congress will stop increasing giveaways of the producers’ earnings? Most importantly, what are the chances the producer class will continue to create more and more wealth merely to gratify a giant underclass of political predators? In my opinion, China owes much of its fabulous recent success to this phenomenon as production has left these shores fleeing from our politically empowered but predatory underclass. Does any serious-minded person think the process will stop on its own as long as there is any money left for them to take?

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