Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wallenda vs. The Egalitarians

[This post was originally published at the blog on June 23, 2012]

“Egalitarianism” is just a code for envy. Nothing bothers egalitarians more than other people’s superiority in one way or another. Thus they commit themselves to reducing everyone else to abilities lower than those attainable to them, and in doing so egalitarians work to thwart that which allowed the human race to rise above the lower species: the division of labor.

On Friday June 15, 2012 between the hours of 9 and 10 pm, egalitarian heats were broken as history was being made at the Horseshoe Falls on the Niagara River when seventh generation aerialist Nik Wallenda, of the famous “Flying Wallendas,” became the first man in history to walk across the gorge on a tightrope. Many a daredevil have walked a high wire over the ridge of the Niagara River, though none so close to the falls themselves. Likewise, countless stuntmen and stuntwomen have intentionally gone over the falls in a barrel or performed similar acts of bravery in the pre-Progressive Era when this sort of activity was a common occurrence at Niagara Falls. However, the rise of the Nanny State denied entrepreneurial daredevils and spectacle-loving public of opportunities to come together for a century.

Wallenda’s areal walk was not an act that could be performed by the man on the street, casual thrill-seeker or “Sunday acrobat.” It was a feat demanding full commitment to specialization in one particular field, thus making the performer anything but an “everyman.” His devotion to his trade provided him with the ability and technological insight necessary to traverse such an unusual task.

Anyone that has had the chance to visit the world famous waterfalls on the Niagara River splitting Canada and the US will know the awesome power of this natural wonder that provides a total of over 5 million kilowatts of electricity on both sides of the border. The sheer power of the water continually erodes the edifice of the rock under it; while above it commanding whirlwinds toss spray hundreds of feet in the air, sometimes visible from as far as ten miles away. To accomplish his task, Mr. Wallenda needed not only talent and bravery; he needed multitudes of skill, knowledge and technology which were obtained through his own specialization in his field, as well as through inheritance passed on to him from his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

To be sure, there is a good reason why no one had accomplished Nik Wallenda’s feat one hundred years ago: the technology and knowledge was not available then. However, being a part of a family whose business is walking tightropes and performing life-risking stunts at great heights, Mr. Wallenda had more insight into the task than most people can even imagine possible. Wallenda writes:
Tight Rope is a performance art that has been passed down in our family for generations. It is the apex of engineering and personal discipline requiring strength and sharp mental focus to keep balanced on a tensioned wire between two points. Tightrope walking is a part of American history and has been a form of popular entertainment since the circuses of the 1700’s. With this walk over Niagara Falls I wanted to elevate and evolve the art, just as my personal hero and great-grandfather Karl Wallenda did with the 7 person chair pyramid Flying Wallendas.
If the Marxian prescription to do away with inheritance was to be fully employed, the world would have never been given the opportunity to experience this triumph of Man, since if egalitarians had it their way inheritance would be abolished. You see, they believe in the wholly unrealizable idea that every person should start out in life with no advantage relative to any other.

Fortunately for them as the actors, and for me one who enjoyed Nik’s great performance, the Wallendas have been fortunate to be able to transmit their knowledge and skills—which forms the capital of these entrepreneurs—from one generation on to the next simply because tax collectors have not yet decided to tax such “transactions” of information. Thus, they have been able to amass and utilize immense amounts of knowledge useful to their trade and avoid having to lose any of it in the confiscatory act of inheritance tax. However, let us imagine for a moment that the transfer of knowledge and the teaching of skills from one generation to another do get taxed on an inheritance basis, just as any other material inheritances are. In this scenario there would be losses of information at every transfer, just as there are losses of capital by the drainage in taxes occurring every time a person passes an inheritance on to a chosen successor. This certainly would not bother the true to hear Marxist, as Wallenda’s feat in his eye would be considered useless act.

Every person is born a blank slate and all the knowledge that one acquires throughout their life dies off with them; therefore, civilization is impossible without inheritance, i.e. a previous generation leaving some value attained in its lifetime. The more that the next generation is able to receive from the previous one, the farther ahead it will start and the father it will be from subsistence and closer to luxury.

If the Wallendas had been denied all or part of their inheritance through the generations, then a certain amount of their intangible capital would have been wiped out with the passing away of  each generation, making Nik’s feat impossible; to say nothing of the total break-down of time structure and future planning. Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out the positive role that inheritance plays when he remarked that “[p]eople who have been born and bred in good circumstances are as a rule much more careful about the future, more economical, in fact, than those who, by a piece of good luck, have suddenly passed from poverty to wealth.” Like the rest of the Marxian-egalitarian philosophy, the denial of inheritance leads toward primitivism. Again, while this may not bother Marxists, egalitarians, or persons of similar inclination, it does bother at least one person: me. And in the words of JS Mill: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
While the denial of inheritance did not thwart Nik Wallenda’s effort, another communistic element of our society did so for more than two years. He explains:
I spent the past 2 years working tirelessly to lobby governments in two countries and change laws that have been in place for over a hundred years. Why?  I wanted to achieve my life-long dream and be the first person ever to walk across Niagara Falls on a tight rope. … I may be the first man to be granted the right to attempt the walk, but I’m not the first who tried to seek permission. It was a long and arduous process that at times felt impossible.
Indeed, it was the convoluted idea of communistic ownership, where everybody communally owns “public property,” yet, no one but the arbitrarily appointed bureaucrat is allowed to exercise any of the powers of ownership that kept Wallenda on the ground. And even when he was granted the right to perform an act that would inflict harm on no one, Wallenda was presented with a long list of “safety” measures he had to meet in order to be able to risk his own life! The cost of these measures came to a total in the neighborhood of $1.5 million dollars that Wallenda had to raise himself. Yet, with the even not even complete the same local, state/provincial and federal politicians who obstructed its realization were publicly licking their lips at the prospect of economic stimulus the event was to bring to the twin cities of Niagara Falls.
The Toronto Star wrote in the aftermath:
Although he pulled off the aerobatic and bureaucratic feat of walking over the Falls, he still lost money. And Wallenda made a few allusions to their rocky past on Saturday — a reminder that Friday night’s spectacle almost didn’t happen.
Last December, the commission rejected Wallenda’s bid to cross the Falls, as Thomson had always said it would. The rejection from the last agency in Wallenda’s way was the low point of the aerialist’s two-year bureaucratic battle — first on the American side, then in Canada — for permission for Friday night’s walk.
The social duty of daredevils has been resist the statist quo. It is their nature. In completing his great feat, as well as in bringing up the points of the great functions of inheritance and the destructive power of bureaucracy and communistic ownership, Nik Wallenda fulfilled his social duty of standing up to the State.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Zimbio
Top Stories