My eldest daughter had an assignment this week in e second grade class to develop a collaborative set of school rules for the class. In her rough draft she had one simple rule, free iPads for all students. When I asked her why she said so all students could get iPads, which they already do as their school uses them for lesson tracking and test prep, and keep the. Over the summer, mainly to install games and IPTV on. When I explained that could not happen the inevitable question came up, why.
I always try to explain such questions to my children in real world terms but in ways to expand beyond their initial question, and to avoid as much as possible the default follow up, why that directly precedes the answer. When I asked who would pay, she said nobody, they would be free. This sparked an explain action of demand based economics and business based investments in technology. Simply stated, if nobody is going to pay for the iPad, there is no money for the workers who put it together, shippers who move them, warehouse staff who inventory them, stores for staff to distribute them to the public and most importantly, no money to the designers and innovator leads who populate the research and development sections of companies and bring new and improved updates to the market place.
Nobody will make an iPad if there was no money to be made. I was lucky in sidestepping the counter argument of the school buying the iPads and giving them to the students, for at least another 2 years I will be able to skate by on this. For the why question that came after that I decided to go back, to the beginning of civilization as it would allow for a better conversation on civilization, economics, and development of trades and later on careers. Farming was the beginning, the ability to procure and reliably gather food continuously giving early peoples time to explore and discover the greater world around them. This was the Stone Age.
As years rolled by farmers became the working elites, people who had the largest amount of technological brain trust in the world. They could germinate seeds, develop hybrids, increase crop yields through knowledge of fertilizers and irritations as well as discovering planting and harvesting seasons. All the excess foods led to trade and compensation to farmers for their works, basic foundation economics. Those who bought food now had leisure time, time to sit and think. Soon other technologies were founded in response to societies needs, storage containers for the food, writing to indicate what was in the containers, and how old it was, inventory systems to show the amounts of surplus on hand, and so on and so forth. Due to the new commodity of time the farmers sold to society new classes were developed to build off the foundation technology. We all know where this leads but for a second grader some further questions arose.
The Stone Age was a transitionary stage where people shifted away from exclusive hunting and gathering and into agriculture. This did not occur overnight or within a lifetime but over generations. As farmers outgrew the technology of stone and wood tools an incredible discovery was made, metal. After the accident of metal discovery was found, replicated, and advanced we moved on to metallurgy, which quickly out stepped its agricultural sector into everything from the infantile military applications to more in demand civil applications, including the newly developed jewelry sector. This led to the further development of trades, skilled laborers, and craftsman. Technology building off of technology, all made possible by social economics. Without fair compensation for time spend in the development of a good or commodity everything will cease to exist.
This is the missing point about socialism, communism, and radical anarchists that is often overlooked in movies that romanticize such insane concepts. People who are not fairly compensated will not produce, or produce so poorly as to be ineffective. Without the gain or compensation that the farmer finds is a greater benefit to their time spend growing and harvesting crops he will only produce what he needs to survive. The development of governments to contain and bring order to society just refocused technology to its own self serving interests, however basic economics still did, and do today run society. Without them we lose all technology gained over the past 10,000 years in just 2 generations. Without an economy there is nothing, no food production, no goods or services, no infrastructure, teaching, or research, it all falls apart as all these people have do devote 100% of their waking time filling their basic needs; food, water, and shelter/security. And this is why we can’t give away iPads to all students for free, it will lead to reversion to the Stone Age within 2 generations.