Production vs Predation

Here’s a quotation on page 240 of The Economy of Human Energy, a book written by Thomas Nixon Carver in 1924:

In short, it is high time that we stopped talking about protecting the weak against the strong. That is quite as absurd as the opposite idea…that the strong should be given a perfectly free hand to rule and exploit the weak. It is time to begin talking about protecting production against predation. Whether the productive individual be strong or weak, the state must in its own interest protect him. Whether the predacious individual be weak or strong, the state must equally in its own interest suppress him.

Carver captured in the midst of the Roaring Twenties a concept which was just recently masterfully illustrated on Daniel J. Mitchell’s site, which produced the following image (and I am pleased to announce sort of attained viral status on my Facebook feed!):

class war

In other words, although politics is drowning with anti-rich rhetoric on the one side and pro-affluence on the other, it isn’t really a matter of “rich” or “poor.” What matters is how somebody got into the financial situation they are in.

Carver sums this point up brilliantly on page 241, saying:

The state need not give itself the slightest concern over the question as to whether he is weak or strong–that would be a silly question anyway. But the question whether his activities are productive or predacious is a matter of the utmost concern.




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