Why Do We Need Leaders?

One word: Scarcity

OK… see ya…

No? OK.  You see, all living things have to deal with the concept of scarcity.  Ideally, all human beings could sit on our couches and eat potato chips and watch TV all day long.  But wait, who would make the couches?  Who would grow the potatoes?  Who would make TVs and TV shows?

Because the things (couches, potatoes, TVs, and TV shows) are difficult to make and they take a considerable effort to make (well, except for reality TV), they are scarce.

Every human being can go outside their home and pick up a rock or a clod of dirt.  These things are not rare, but they also have no value to us.  Most rocks are not shiny (the defining characteristic of valuable rocks according to the missus).  We cannot consume dirt (in spite of the best efforts of my child).  So these things have little value.  On the other hand, couches, TVs, TV shows and potato chips are very valuable to us.

Those rare individuals that have courage and foresight go out and build TVs and couches, some grow and fry potatoes, and others make and are featured in TV shows.  Since they put forth a modicum of effort in converting common clods of dirt into relatively rare items that are valuable to the rest of us, they hoard them… the bastards.

Because of the effort they put forth, they refuse to just give these products away.  Instead, the people who want couches, chips, and TVs have to give those people something.  In other words, instead of sitting on the couch, they have to go out and do something that someone will find valuable in order to trade their effort for the effort of someone else.

Back in the old days, one person would exchange a chicken that he had raised for a bag of potato chips.  It cost about two cows to get a decent TV.  Couches, well, those were pretty expensive… maybe ten loaves of bread.

Pretty soon, the guy baking the bread got tired of cutting wheat so he asked someone to cut the wheat, that guy was paid with a loaf of bread per acre.  That cutter realized, if he cut ten acres of wheat, he could get a couch.  It’s Miller Time.

And so an economy is born.  But there was trouble.  The baker really doesn’t like the potato chip guy, so he charges the PC guy more for bread than the cute girl with the couch.  Well, the potato chip guy gets mad and gets a bunch of other people the baker overcharged and they beat the crap out of the baker… now no one in the entire town gets bread.  There’s no sense in the cutter working, everyone wants bread, not wheat.  And thus we get a depression (economic, and probably emotional… everyone likes bread).

So we get to the need for leaders.  At first these people (for whatever reason) were trusted by the others of the village or town or whatever and they told everyone what to do.  Pretty soon, that got old, so the leaders started listening to disputes and creating fair mediums of exchange, which explains why I can take about 2 ounces of inked linen to a store and buy a really big TV.

If you really think about, everything that leaders do in our society is based on scarcity.  Food is scarce, trade begins, trade needs to be regulated.  Food is scarce, so one group attacks another group, some leaders led the fighting, some tried to stop it, etc.  As a great general once said, “Wars are just robbery writ large.”

And thus government was born… which, honestly, probably wasn’t a good idea, but it was still better than the alternative.

Leaders can be very intelligent people.  The first guy who said, “look, everyone likes shiny things, so let’s make gold a medium of exchange with a fixed value of 3.5 chickens per ounce” was a fracking genius.  Leaders can be very, very dumb people “Maybe if we pray, rain will come… if not, let’s move to human sacrifice, at least it lowers the unemployment rate”.

Now, the question of the day… what happens when scarcity is no longer an issue?

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