Do It For The Perspective: Money Isn’t the Only Valuable

I’m back! As in, vacation me which is my natural state of happy existence. Even my cousin could tell the change in tone from when I started this blog in July, and as of late. But there is something about getting out there, seeing new things, and talking to new people that breaks down this mundane and lethargic shell. The shell that says it is not that important to enjoy every minute of life, the shell that convinces us money is more important than living life to the fullest.

[By the way I’m going to mix in pictures of Barrow throughout this post for no apparent reason other than it makes me happy.]

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Being a relatively responsible person, I was a bit stressed about money before this trip. And it helped that I spent about $70 fewer dollars on gas on the way down. But really at the end of the day, I know I am not going to go into crippling debt. So why would I let a few hundred dollars make or break a vacation?

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So of course my advice to you all is go do it. Whatever it may be for you. Catch up with college friends, family members; this week will hopefully be full of that (as long as you don’t get snowed in). The more often I change my scenery, the easier it is for me to understand that it is far more important to live than exist. But it is a good thing I planned this trip far off, because when I am out of real-me-mode, it does seem a lot easier and cheaper to just stay home. If I had waited until last week to make a decision on this trip, I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Kind of like my New York City trip, where I was on the edge until the night before: “It is going to be such a hassle!”

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Yea, you know what, it is a hassle. And everything in the world is a cost benefit balance. The benefits of enjoying myself and growing as a person far outweigh the monetary, time, and energy costs of taking these trips. I don’t see the family that is down here super often, so having the chance to connect over the last few days (and the next) has been amazing. What if I had forgone this trip, and not spent time with my relatives, reconnecting, and getting to know each other more? Well maybe it wouldn’t have been so noticeable on the outside, but really it would be another crack in the pillar of happiness. Instead, I threw down some mortar, and popped another block on top of that pillar.

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Perspective is valuable.

In a material society it is hard to place value on things that you can’t hold in your hand, or buy for $300. But maybe we should stop thinking of our lives as separated: the family self, the friend self, the work self. Maybe it is time to think of skills and knowledge as something that will make us whole. Life experiences should grow you as a person, not separate you into different people. It could help to think less of, “How will this increase my earning potential?” or “Is this the most I could gain during my only 6 hours off this week?”

I used to only read non-fiction political books. I wanted to go into politics (what was wrong with me?!) so I didn’t want to waste my time reading non-fiction. This is especially ironic since I am now writing fiction books; turns out all that fiction wasn’t a waste of time! But even if I didn’t want to write, it would not have been a waste of my time. That is because A, it was enjoyable, and enjoying your time is not a waste, and B, perspective!

How can you think you know what is up with the world if you have only viewed it from one angle? How can you think you know yourself if you have only viewed you from one angle. I’m finding I like vacation me best. I’m more positive and I have more fun. It is a struggle to keep that attitude while not on vacation, but at least I have a marker, a goal. When do you like yourself the most? That is the real you. You do you.

Perspective makes you less judgmental.

Yesterday I stopped by an outdoor bar on the Gulf of Mexico. I ordered a Yuengling which just so happened to help strike up a conversation with the grey goateed man with a Harley hat named Eric sitting next to me. He was from Philadelphia, where one of the breweries is based, and my bartender was asking me if I noticed a difference between southern and northern Yuengling because of the different brewing locations (I didn’t).

So anyway we get to talking and he is telling me about all the redneck guys in the area. Sure, there was some poking fun at them, but the crux of the story was that they were some of the nicest guys he has met. One big burly man walked up to Eric while Eric was with his friends. “Is that Eric?” The friends tensed up, was trouble brewing? “JOE!!” Yells Eric and jumps to his feet to give Joe a big bear hug, because that is how they greet each other whenever they cross paths.

At a local bar Eric once walked in, and some ZZ Top looking fellas said (or maybe it was their beer that said it), “Who’s this f**ing guy?” Eric just laughed, “How you doing boys”, and bought them each a round of beer ($2.50 for a PBR, not bad). The rest of the night, they were like old friends. Now THAT is how to diffuse a situation. Eric had perspective, and was not going to be brought down. Turns out he was a Sociology major, just like me.

Perspective makes you less stressed out.

It could be so much worse. I could have been left alone from 15 up raising a younger sibling while Dad just dropped off groceries once a week. Maybe that is why he can’t read so well. I could be called weekly by a parent’s neighbors to come round them up. Maybe that is where his stress comes from. Those are real people I met: awesome people who are productive, nice, and don’t complain.

I’m not immune, I still complain. But the more perspective you get, the more pathetic you feel for complaining that you had to wait 30 minutes to get picked up from CCD (you like the plug Mom and Dad?). Oh right, and I have a Mom and Dad who care enough to encourage me with what I want to do (even though it doesn’t make me money yet), and read my work. Thanks 🙂

I could break down on the drive home halfway back. But you know what? I wouldn’t be alone. Yea, physically I would. But it would not rest solely on my shoulders to get me out of there, and that is priceless. How can I be stressed out when I think of the worst that could happen, and it really isn’t that bad.

I’m happy, I’m grateful, I’m energetic, and I want you all to be too! I love positive people. Be positive. It is not always a competition, you can encourage others without feeling less about yourself. Do what you love, when possible don’t stress. Set goals, big and small. But most important, don’t just exist, live.

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Pirates, Pubs, and Personality in Savannah

I’ve made it to Florida and luckily will not have to do much driving for another 9 days. A little rainy now, but at least it is warm.

In Savannah Thursday night I started at the Pirate’s House, which is in a building that has been a bar since the 1700’s. In fact, the Pirate’s House was mentioned in Treasure Island as the pub that the pirate Captain Billy “Bones” Flint, who originally buried the treasure, died.

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Apparently there is a tunnel downstairs that leads to the river, and the drunkest bar-goers would sometimes find themselves on a ship the next morning bound for far off destinations. It took one man two years to find his way back.

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Coincidentally my bartender had a few waking up in strange places stories of his own. Though he has never seen a ghost in Pirate’s House, he did black out after a night of drinking, and wake up 4 hours away at a summer camp in the mountains. Turns out it was his idea to head up there with a lass the night before, but he passed out on the ride up. He awoke by himself (the ladies having gone to buy groceries) and wandered around the empty camp for an hour before finding out what had happened.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. He just remembers being aware enough to grab his passport before joining his boss and his boss’s pilot friend on a private flight to Mexico, where the pilot worked for a couple. But the pilot made it pretty clear, “I’m coming back in a week. You can’t call me for a flight, so enjoy!”

However the bartender’s poor mother couldn’t get in touch with him, and his roommates were no help to her: “I haven’t seen him since Monday. He stumbled in drunk and grabbed his passport”. After that, his mom routinely bought him prepaid phones that worked from anywhere he might wake up.

And how did he end up in Savannah, I asked? Well he woke up there after a drunken night of course! “I figured I would just stay the weekend, but I accidentally got a job and have been here ever since”. Ah yes, the accidental job acquisition. First world problems.

I continued on my way to check out what was happening along River Street. I was compelled to get a beer at The Warehouse advertising the cheapest and coldest beer in town. But alas, I will never know if their beer is cold or cheap. I always have my ID ready, but I was surprised to be asked for a second form. I gave the women behind the bar my gun licence, also a photo ID, obviously with the same name, address, birthday etc. But 30 puzzling seconds later I was still staring at her, staring at my ID.

I laughed, “I have a credit card too”, and handed that to her. Another 30 seconds of pouring over my three forms of identification, and she said, “sorry honey, I’ve seen plenty of Massachusetts ID’s. Just something not right, I can’t serve you”.

I know I look young, but I was shocked since this had never happened before. Did she really think I had a fake gun permit made to match my fake ID which had the same name as on my credit card? That would be some dedication.

I asked if there was someone else I could talk to but she was the manager. So I got up and did that thing where you look around for support from strangers. A nice older gentleman with his wife chimed in with an understanding chuckle, “My son in law is 50 and he still gets carded”. The ladies to my right looked at me and then quickly away, probably assuming I was actually underage.

I try not to complain, but seriously I am 25 years old and don’t think I should have to deal with that. So in solidarity with me, perhaps skip The Warehouse if you are ever in Savannah.

But there is always a silver lining. I ended up at a little bar down the street called Rusty Rudders, where I met some cool people, two from Savannah, two visiting. Both bartenders were very friendly and fun, and go figure, accepted my ID without hassling me.

Next post I’ll tell you about the auction in Florida I attended. (Spoiler alert: it included items such as a case of 60 bags of twizzlers that went for my $8 and two unwrapped pillows, one white, one off white that went for $15). And hopefully by then I will have even more checked off!

Runnin’ From the Cold Up in New England

I am currently in Savannah! Yesterday I made good time with 12 hours on the road and only a half hour for stops. After sleeping in my car, I did the final 5 hours to Savannah arriving at 10am. It was so nice to walk around the city and stretch my legs! It’s not bad here, but someday I hope to visit Savannah with the typical hot weather. Signs here restaurants urge people to come in and get warm!

Just me and my trusty steed.

Just me and my trusty steed.

I figured if the sun was rising on my left I must be going the right direction.

I figured if the sun was rising on my left I must be going the right direction.

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Got to check the first thing off my list. I found that sign amusing.

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I just like that they give you the option.

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Some beautiful buildings in Savannah.

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Reminds me of a movie set.

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Is there something buzzing around my head?

Just wanted to update everyone on my trip so far, more to come! But now I gotta go grab an ale at the Pirate’s Bar!

Sorry for any formatting issues, I am trying to do this from my tablet to give y’all a play by play. Look, the south is already wearing off on me.

Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey

On Wednesday I will be departing the north once more to drive down to Florida for a visit with my aunt and cousin, and to spend Thanksgiving with them. Vacations, especially this year, have been what invigorates me and keeps me flowing with energetic and hopeful blood! And hopefully, this time I won’t have to drive through a snowstorm until North Carolina.

So fully expect my posts when I come back to be better. Better in the almost delusional tone that was presented when I started this blog, fresh off an amazing week in the New Hampshire Mountains at a campground with so many other likeminded and friendly individuals.

In February, I went on my first cruise, which besides Canada was also my first time out of the country. It flicked a switch in my mind. I knew I liked to travel, but I didn’t really know to what degree. Maybe it was the vitamin D, or the magic of the Caribbean, or perhaps those Mexican beers had a special ingredient, but when I returned, I was happier, more talkative, extremely positive, and invigorated!

But that was without being inspired at my core. Yes I love everything about vacationing, cruising, and tropical islands, but the event in June appealed to my base values and worldview. PorcFest (which has nothing to do with meat, it is short for Porcupine Freedom Festival) is like a cross between the annual summit for my political interests, and burning man. It is Woodstock for my ilk, hippies for freedom, survivalists for peace. And strangely enough this political type event inspired me to create a blog devoted to everything but politics.

I already had my politics shtuff going, and what ran through my veins after PorcFest was a life force. There was so much I wanted to do with the information and feelings that came to me over that week! But political avenues are notoriously frustrating and often futile. So I decided to spread my positive energy via another platform: this everything-but-politics blog.

Now I am generally a positive person, and I like to be outgoing. Some might find this shocking, but I am not actually the most naturally outgoing person. So sometimes I need to almost trick myself, or at least set myself up so that my future self will do what my current self wants him to do.

You see, it would be easy for me to think of all these cool quirky things I want to do on my way down, back, and in Florida. But if the only thing holding me to that is… well, me, than the only person I could let down is… me.

Thus, I am creating a list, almost scavenger hunt-y, and sharing it here for my little goals during my trip. And once I tell the internet about my plans, I feel to ignore them would not only let myself down, but others as well.

On the way down I may be like, “Uhg, I don’t feel like talking to strangers!” But if it is on my list, I might force myself out of my comfort zone. And in the end, that type of situation almost always ends with me glad I did socialize, or whatever the circumstances.

This is even more important since I am going it alone this time! Which is also a big step out of my comfort zone; I’ve never taken a road trip this far by myself. But that’s part of growing as a person, busting apart our comfort zones, and experiencing things without our embedded reservations. It’s worked out for me so far.

So here are some ideas for me. Nothing crazy, just got to get my Excellent Adventure juices flowing.

  • Start at least 2 conversations with strangers, preferably during the drive down. (A stranger starting a conversation with me does not count towards this)
  • Find out someone’s unique philosophy on life and compare it to my own.
  • Get to the coast, and take in the beach and ocean. Try to scoop in enough to last me until February.
  • Find a wild edible/ medicinal plant to forage and use.
  • Get a picture of a sign that tickles my fancy.
  • Get a picture of “something Florida”. Need I explain more?
  • Do something redneck. (This should be easy, I’m a hick at heart)
  • Enlist my cousin’s help to check out something close by that she has not seen/ done. (You know, the old, “I’ve lived here for ___ years and I’ve never ___”.)
  • Eat something unique to the area (I’m thinking boiled peanuts, but I could find something else?)
  • Do at least one suggestion FROM THE COMMENTS! (I NEED YOU GUYS TO SUGGEST STUFF IN ORDER FOR THIS ONE TO WORK. DON’T LET ME DOWN).

That should be a good starting point, just to get me out of my shell. If it goes well, then perhaps I will make a new list for week 2 of the vacation.

In addition to checking some of these things off my list in order to cast me into the fray, you can expect some other things over the next couple weeks. Expect pictures of me with lots of animals. These thin pictures of me on the sides and top of this blog; the Alaskan Malamute and the horse are my cousin’s. She also has another horse, and now another dog. And then there are my aunt’s three Akitas, a pig, some cows… well you get the point. I like animals.

And if all goes according to plan I will be stopping by Savannah, at least for lunch. I want to check it out for a second time, since there is a possibility that I will move to the area within a year. Also, my second fiction book (the first is in editing stages), which I am currently working on, takes place in the Savannah area. So I need to do some scoping out for that as well.

I am well aware the tone I present here fluctuates. I feel I can no longer as naturally cast forth good will and life giving energy with such ease as I could on July 1st. But like the cruise, the road trip to Indianapolis, PorcFest, New York City, the road trip to Vermont, and camping in Vermont, I fully expect to return invigorated with the same natural energy emanating that gave this blog birth. And if that fades, well I only have to wait until February for another cruise, to restart my cycle.

I started this blog with Joe Jarvis’ Excellent Adventure. If all goes well, this will be Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey!

Which Came First, the Tattoo or the Symbolism?

Ever have someone ask what your tattoos mean? I used to get uncomfortable at this question, because the truth was I hadn’t assigned much meaning to my tattoos when I got them. I thought of them as art, so for a long time I told people to interpret my two tattoos themselves. But like any art, my tattoos eventually revealed their meaning to me as well, years after I got them.

My first tattoo I got on my left arm the day I turned 18. “What did your parents say?” They said “good job” to the tattoo artist; my parents are the ones who paid for it. I got my last name, Jarvis, tattooed on my forearm. It is looking a little faded these days.

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“What is that in case you forget your name?” Ha, good one! At first it was art. But something inspired me to get it. There was something about my last name that I liked. I liked the sound of it, I liked the ancestors, and I love my family. And there it is. Why do I want my last name on my arm? I probably won’t forget my last name. But you can remember your last name, and forget where you came from.

There are Hollywood actors, and popular politicians who have changed their names to play better with the public. I don’t know if it is a coincidence that these people tend to be fake, aloof, and messes (think Carlos Estavez aka Charlie Sheen).

No, I am not going to forget my last name. That is there so that I don’t forget where I came from. It is there as a permanent reminder of who made me what I am today, and who I have to thank for making me the person I am today. If I want to run from any of that, I can start my tearing off the permanent piece of my skin branded with that reminder. That would be painful, as it should be.

About a year and a half later I caught the itch to get another tattoo. Perhaps this was the closest thing to a hippy phase I was going through. It was after freshman year of college, I was transferring schools, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I knew that I was totally in touch with like, nature and, like, spirituality man!

I drew the original picture myself, and had the tattoo artist render an acceptable print for permanent publication on my back. It was a tree growing out of the earth, and it was am image I loved. It looked cool. I liked trees, I liked nature, I liked maps. It was art. The imagery made me feel a certain way, and that was why I wanted that piece of art on me.

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Again, it was years before I assigned any meaning to the tat. But when I realized what it meant to me, it was the perfect tattoo! The tree of life grows from the seed of earth. What you do on earth, will affect what happens in your after life. Earth is the seed, and depending on how you plant it, fertilize, and water it, the tree that grows could be magnificent, or sickly.

And the tree of life, that connects us to the after life, can be as large and far reaching as you make it. Or it can die as a sapling, and one might be left with no avenue in which to follow in order to gain access to the afterlife. Perhaps if you do not grow your tree large enough, you cannot reach the afterlife, and must start over, with a new seed, in a new life.

But as you can see, my tree dwarfs the earth, which is where I hope to get to. Perhaps someday there will be occasion to add leaves and vibrance. But I’m not too worried. My tattoos were created before they meant anything to me. Likewise the structures we create in this life can seemingly mold themselves into place, before we know how to use them.

This relates back to what I was saying in another post. I like to write, run, forage, and exercise. I enjoy nature, health, philosophy, and social interactions. These thing I have been cultivating, and am sure will be of great use to me. When the time is right, my tree of life may grow leaves. And when the time is right, we can all use our talents, skills, and passions to flesh out the life we want to live.

And remember, what happens on Earth might not just affect this lifetime.

How is Wealth Created?

This is a hypothetical short story my Dad wrote a while back for my other blog to demonstrate what wealth really is. It is an interesting discussion of quality of life, and what it means to really create wealth.


Most would agree that America is a wealthy country, but what is wealth and how does it come into being?

It is tempting to think of wealth as piles and piles of money; however, history is replete with examples of worthless currency – Confederate notes at the end of the American Civil War, for example.

What about gold and diamonds? Precious metals and stones are widely accepted as having value, so this is closer to the mark; still, you can’t eat them. To live, humans need air, water, food, and some protection from their environment. We can probably agree that someone who must spend all of his time just to provide the bare essentials to ensure survival is not wealthy. So does free time equate to wealth? In a way, yes, but running around half naked and living in a grass hut does not meet the western vision of wealth, even if you do have only a five hour work week.

In the developed world, we tend to use our extra time, time left over after we meet our need for food and shelter, to increase our standard of living. We strive to obtain better food and more of it, more comfortable shelter, labor saving devices, various forms of entertainment and possessions that increase our sense of well-being. We also take steps to feel good about ourselves such as working for charities or running marathons. This is the essence of wealth: a high standard of living. The higher your standard of living, the wealthier you are. Even those who spend all their time acquiring this high standard of living are considered wealthy.

One could, and some do, argue that this is also the definition of the rat race, that we are not actually better off than our ancestors for all our accumulated wealth. The fact remains, however, that even the marginally wealthy can expect to live a long and healthful life without the threat of epidemic, starvation, being eaten by an animal, freezing to death, or being overrun by a barbarian horde. Thus our working definition of wealth will be a high standard of living.

So where does wealth come from?

Suppose you are stranded on a deserted tropical island with one other person, Alex. You both hunt and gather all day, every day, in order to stay alive.

But Alex is a better hunter than you, and you are a better gatherer. You get an idea; you offer to gather for Alex if Alex will hunt for you. Now, since you are both doing a job you do more efficiently, you have a little free time every day. With that time you develop tools for hunting and gathering, giving you even more free time. Your next innovation is to create fishing gear which you use to improve your diet, and since fish are plentiful, free up more time. With that time you make chairs, hammocks, shelters, and other comforts.

Specialization, cooperation, innovation and motivation have increased your standard of living. You created wealth. All the resources were already present on the island, but this did not raise your standard of living. It was your labor, both physical and mental, that transformed these resources into a higher standard of living.

Next, since life is now easier, you decide to build a musical instrument. It takes a long time. You work hard creating many prototypes that sound terrible. Finally you succeed! You now have music, another boost to your standard of living.

Your island mate would like an instrument too. You teach your friend everything you learned about making this instrument, but to no avail. Alex just does not have the talent required to make one. You are now wealthier than Alex. Your buddy knows how hard you worked to make your instrument and therefore does not ask you to make another. However, Alex is also better off now that there is music on the island. Your wealth benefits both of you.

One day you are walking the beach when you come across two more people who have washed ashore. Their names are Chris and Taylor. You and your island mate introduce Chris and Taylor to island life and get them fed and settled. You assume that, like you and Alex, Chris and Taylor will hunt, gather, fish, and build things. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Chris and Taylor are not very good at fending for themselves.

You and Alex now have a problem; you are spending part of your time to make up the difference between what Chris and Taylor consume and what they produce. Some of your wealth is being transferred to Chris and Taylor. But what can you do? You don’t think it is right to let them starve, so you keep helping them. Time goes by. Chris is still working hard and falling short, but Taylor is only making a half-hearted effort. Taylor’s attitude is “I eat whether I work or not, so why kill myself?”

Alex has had enough and refuses to help Taylor any more. That leaves just you to support Taylor. You are back to square one: working all day every day so that you, Chris and Taylor can survive. The wealth of the island is declining. You are the most productive but your excess goes to Chris and Taylor. Alex helps Chris, but not Taylor, so Alex still has time to create wealth. Your tools and comforts start to wear out and you don’t have time to maintain them. Alex is now the wealthiest, but the island as a whole is poorer. Then you get sick.

Chris and Alex take care of you. Without your support Taylor does not have enough to eat. Taylor has some cash and tries to buy food from Alex, but cash is useless to Alex on the island. The same goes for jewelry and other “valuables”; without an advanced society to create a demand for these items they are worthless. Taylor slinks off to the other side of the island. In time you regain your health.

But Taylor has a serious problem: no shelter, no tools, no companions and not enough to eat. Taylor needs to think of something quickly. Taylor was an accountant before being stranded. This is a valuable skill in an advanced society, but not on the island. Before being stranded Taylor liked to read books about sailing, ship building, and navigation. Taylor sets to work to identify sources on the island for the materials needed to build a sailing vessel.

Taylor returns with a proposal: “In exchange for food I will design a sailing vessel and direct its construction.” Now Taylor has something to trade: knowledge. Taylor knows the important aspects of ship design. Taylor can identify suitable materials. Taylor can navigate by the stars. You, Alex and Chris agree.

With Taylor’s leadership you build a boat and sail it to Hawaii. You have rescued yourselves. With the proceeds from a movie deal you each dramatically increase your standard of living.

You have learned some lessons:

Resources alone are not wealth. Resources must be converted to wealth with labor. The game must be hunted, the berries must be gathered, the fish must be caught, the wood must be cut and worked.

Skill is an important resource. All the other resources in the world are useless if the skill to convert them is not available.

Knowledge is a very important resource. The ability to stuff your head full of things you didn’t know before, recall them, and apply them to the situation at hand is valuable. It is important to note that you need not develop this knowledge yourself. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A written language confers a huge advantage. Knowledge can then be saved for posterity.

Specialization leads to efficiency. When people do what they do best, work gets done in less time. The remaining time can be enjoyed or used to increase the standard of living.

The ability to organize is valuable. People who organize often don’t appear to do much. Stuff can still get done without them. But just muddling through is often not enough. What would a car cost if a whole gaggle of organizers didn’t plan for every nut, bolt, wire and hose to be where it needed to be, when it needed to be there, at the lowest possible price? The answer: too much. This was the situation before Henry Ford applied the assembly line to auto production. Henry Ford did not build cars, he organized the building of cars. In our story Taylor did not build a boat. Taylor provided the knowledge and organization to build a boat. In the beginning Taylor was a drain, but in the end Taylor was the MVP.

There can be no consumption without production. This is obvious. In our story, on day one, no one can eat, or sleep under cover, or play music because none of this has been produced yet. Later, Taylor consumes what you and Alex have produced. In the end you invest some of your wealth (you feed Taylor) in Taylor’s boat project in the hope that you can get off the island. It was a risk; maybe Taylor didn’t really know how to build a boat. You were willing to take that risk and in this case it paid off.

Just as obvious is the fact that shuffling existing wealth around the island will not increase the wealth of the island. If Alex gets your musical instrument and you get Chris’s hammock and Chris gets Taylor’s chair and Taylor gets Alex’s spear, what has changed? There is still the same amount of wealth on the island, it is just in different hands. Maybe the new owners will make better use of these things, but probably not, otherwise the islanders would have traded amongst themselves or produced more of these things. Yet governments routinely take wealth from one group, give it to another group and expect that somehow the country will be better off.

To participate in commerce you must produce something that somebody else wants. On the island Taylor was not very good at manual labor. With just four people there was no need for an accountant. It was knowledge and organizational skills that Taylor was finally able to trade for food.

A rising tide lifts all ships. As the wealth of an area increases everyone benefits. When you made a musical instrument, but Alex couldn’t, Alex still got to hear the music you played. When your productivity exceeds your basic needs you seek out products and services that increase your standard of living. This gives others the chance to produce and fosters competition to supply these items. Competition leads to lower prices and more choices. Think of the things that at one time only the well off could afford. Cars, radios, TVs, stereos, cell phones, computers, travel… The list goes on and on. Now even the poor (in America) have all these things.

So where does the wealth come from? It comes from individuals who produce more than they need to survive and consume no more than they produce. In a perfect world, this would be everybody. On the island it was you and Alex. On the island Chris tried hard but fell short. Maybe in an advanced society Chris could do alright. Maybe Chris could be a doctor or an entertainer. We don’t know enough about Chris. On the island, Taylor was content to live off the efforts of you and Alex. When Alex balked and you got sick, Taylor was forced to find a way to contribute.

And what is the role of government? Government exists to protect the society as a whole from a common threat, and you as an individual from having force used against you. If you decide to buy insurance in order to share the risk of some catastrophe with others in the insurance pool, that is commerce. If Big Al sends the boys around to “convince” you to pay for “protection,” that is force. For society to get the maximum benefit each individual must be free to decide what to produce and what to consume. That individual must also live with the consequences of that decision.