Posted tagged ‘inventors’

Warren Brookes, in his book “The Economy in Mind,”

February 8, 2008

 This is part three of a seven part series, with a new post each day. Each post will be linked to the preceding post. The essay in its entirety can be found on the “Page” titled “Politics and Social Philosophy” which will be posted on 2/12/08.

 The late Warren Brookes, in his book “The Economy in Mind,” told a relevant story:

[Ernst] Mahler was an entrepreneurial genius    whose  innovative ideas and leadership, over a period of about 20 years, transformed [Kimberly Clark, a] once-small, insular newsprint and tissue manufacturer into one of the largest paper corporations in the world, which gives prosperous employment to more than 100,000 and produces products (which Mahler helped to innovate) that are now used by more than 2 billion people. Mahler became enormously wealthy, of course. Yet his personal fortune was insignificant when compared with the permanent prosperity he generated, not only for his own company but for the hundreds of thousands who work for industries which his genius ultimately spawned and which long outlived him — not to mention the revolutionary sanitary products that have liberated two generations of women, or the printing papers that completely transformedinternational publishing and communications for fifty years.  I can safely predict that you have never heard of him up to this moment. Not one person in 100 million has. Yet his contribution has permanently uplifted the lives of millions and far exceeds in real compassion most of our self-congratulatory politicians and “activists” whose names are known to all. 

              The moral of the story is that a relatively small number of inventors and capitalists have made incalculable contributions to human welfare and human well-being and yet are not what most people think of when they think of leading a moral life. They are not factored into the moral equation. We live in a culture that teaches that morality is self-sacrifice and that compassion and service to others are the ultimate good. We don’t associate morality with ambition, achievement, innovation; and we certainly don’t associate it with profit making. But if the standard by which we are judging is human well-being, then whatever the enormous merits of compassion, they do not compare with the contributions to well-being that are made by the motivation of achievement.

             One of the great problems of our world, and the ultimate difficulty in fighting for a libertarian society, is the complete lack of fit between the values that actually support and nurture human life and well-being and the things that people are taught to think of as noble or moral or admirable. The calamity of our time and all times past is the complete lack of congruence between the values that, in fact, most serve life and the values we are taught to esteem most. So long as that lack of congruence exists, the battle for freedom can never be permanently won. 

To view previous parts of this essay please click on the following  link – Part 1, Part 2  

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