Rathbun: Insect captialismWritten by Gary Rathbun | | GaryRathbun@PrivateWealthConsultants.com
Last weekend I finally got into my honeybee hives for the first time this year. I am always a little anxious opening them up after the winter to see which hives survived and which ones didn’t and to see if I can figure out why. Last fall, I went into winter with nine good hives, I thought, only to find out this weekend that two didn’t make it at all, two have lost their queens and now have a “drone layer” and one is very weak. So out of nine going into winter, I have four strong hives this spring. Very disappointing.
Now I won’t bore you with all of the speculation behind the destruction of honeybee hives out there but suffice it to say it doesn’t take much to lose a hive and there are hundreds of reasons that they die. Yet as I was thinking about my losses, I couldn’t help think about the similarities to capitalism and to starting and operating one’s own business.
You start a business with the hopes of creating something that someone will want enough to pay for so you can earn a profit. There is no guarantee that anything will get produced, no guarantee that anyone will want to buy it and no guarantee that you will make a profit. The same with beehives: there are no guarantees on production, no guarantees that anyone will buy your honey or other products from the hive and no guarantee that the hive will even survive.
If your business fails, other people and businesses will pick up the assets and use them in their lives or businesses. When I lose a hive, I take the supers apart and set them out so that other hives can salvage the honey and pollen stored there. I even use the wax comb over again if it is clean and has no pests or disease.
Often times, the more I try to do for my bees the more harm I do. By trying to make life easier for the bees and help them with their business the more likely it is that they fail, not unlike government intervention. When the government tries to make our lives easier, more unintended consequences occur and more damage can be done. More often than not, the less done to “help,” the better. The bees will determine what they need to survive just as the market will determine what it needs; some businesses will thrive and others will not.
If you do some searching on the Internet you will find a significant consensus on who believe the problems we have are caused by capitalism instead of being solved by capitalism. I just read an article where the author thought capitalism focuses on the individual instead of the community and this is the moral problem with capitalism — essentially that it is selfish. This is actually the opposite of what is true. Capitalism focuses on providing a new innovation or product to society as a whole. The fact that the capitalist wants to make a profit for himself is not selfish; it’s wanting to be justly compensated for his or her work and investment.
Socialism is the more selfish belief. Sure, it cloaks itself in an attitude of helping the poor but it takes away from producers and gives to nonproducers. By the way, the people who decide what is fair in this type of system always manage to get themselves a larger piece of the pie since they are the ones advocating and overseeing the fairness.
I know that this is not a perfect analogy of how things work in life and in the life of a beehive, but I think you will be able to see the similarities. Ironically, honey bees work in a socialistic environment rather than a free market environment. You never see an entrepreneurial honey bee but neither do they have free will and reasoning ability. I am sure socialism would work in our human society as well if people had no reasoning ability or free will. In fact, we are well on the way; a few more years of stupid television programs and we should have an entire population of drones.
Gary L. Rathbun is the president and CEO of Private Wealth Consultants, LTD. He can be heard every day on 1370 WSPD at 4:06 on After the Bell, everyday on the Afternoon Drive, and every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6 p.m. throughout Northern Ohio on Eye on Your Money. He can be reached at (419) 842-0334 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org