Competition LO16744

Ray Evans Harrell (mcore@IDT.NET)
Wed, 28 Jan 1998 20:25:43 -0800

Replying to LO16737 --

Ben Compton wrote:

> Why is there is a disparity between the rich and the poor? The basic
> elements are the quality and power of their ideas, their competence, the
> passion with which they work. There are very powerful restraining forces
> that keep people tied to their poverty: Religion, social theory,
> government interference, etc.

Ben, I have lurked and read your posts with interest but I must say the
above is surprising. I find it...well simple. Money does not define
value, simply economic value. To say that the wealthy in society are the
most valuable, productive, imaginative or disciplined runs counter to any
experience that I have ever had. They may be focused, intense and
successful in some areas like speculation, management etc. but their
wealth is principly valuable to themselves. Giving that wealth the
principle value in this society has caused a 100 year decline it the
overall cultural seriousness of the society as well as decimated the
profession. Also as Stanley Drucker has pointed out, the the wealthy are
becoming less and less significant in the market as well, as huge funds
become more important to the running of things than the wealthy as a total
group. They basically seem to serve as an economic ideal to spur those
who would not work out of the need to fulfill themselves as human beings.
No art for arts sake here. Just money or no work. If it isn't profit
then it isn't valued.

Economic value does not define human life, spirituality, culture or human
growth. Humans have to be taught to love money. I remember the
Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and several of the smaller works. It is a
cruel joke that the people who have assumed Rands mantle in the art world
resemble her critic villain in the Fountainhead more than Frank Lloyd
Wright who she said was her image for Roark. These Sam Lipmans and the
Hilton Kramers of the world create little to no art and basically undercut
the market for those who are creating the product.

Rather than Rand which I find a rather comic book warmed over Bentham, I
would suggest reading the works of John Stuart Mill and his experience
with the issue of value. His relationship with Utilitarianism, his
Father, Bentham and Poetry. Since it was Wordsworth and his poetry that
saved his J.S. Mills mental health after the value concepts you mention
were used to raise him almost from birth. He struggled for the rest of
his life with these issues of holistic values and not just the "Private
Goods" approach that has destroyed the serious arts in America and is in
the process of doing same to the Healing as well as the Teaching Arts.

Why should we give more value to someone who majors in the manipulation of
currency or commodities distribution, than to a Beethoven, a Mozart or a
great scientist or theologian. In America these people often are sent to
waste their time teaching the young that do not have the maturity to hear
and end up not writing the great works or making the great discoveries.
Sorry but you really punched a button this time.

If you define the parameters closely enough you can justify almost
anything. I prefer the simpler approach of Singe's Mental Models without
the economic theology. Or maybe John Warfield's discussion on the
complexity of coherent and incoherent systems. But the economic argument
often ends up with a justification for war and chaos.

Competition is a useful tool but only a tool. It is not a method unless
you mean the method of war which I have both an intellectual and moral
problem with. As this post and others that I have written points out, I
do not however have a problem with conflict. Have at it.


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director and CEO
The Magic Circle Chamber Opera Company and Artist's Management


If you are productive you will receive financial reward
in a truly free market society, therefore
the most productive are the most wealthy because
the most productive are financially speculative
(risk taking producers of value).

Those who make "one of a kind" things
are the least "productive" (economic)
in a "free market" society,
but artists who make original art are
the only truly productive artists in artdom.

The artists who make things that have the most immediate appeal,
are the most productive, and the most wealthy.
The artists who make things that can be used repeatedly
(while receiving payment each time with no new effort),
are also the most productive, thus the most valu-able.

Films are more productive than symphonies.
Opera videos are more productive that real performance.
A small operatic international ensemble on video or audio recording
is more productive than an opera house in every city.

Recordings of dead Horowitz in Moscow
are more productive
than Vladimir Feltsman*
alive in Carnegie Hall.

Ray Evans Harrell, copyright 1997

*Feltsman is the great Russian Pianist who held out for several years
under virtual house arrest, being denied the right to perform
because he did not support the Soviet Government. He now lives
and works in New York City.


Ray Evans Harrell <mcore@IDT.NET>

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