Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Salt Of The Earth

"Business is the salt of life."

Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Voltaire was a civil libertarian.  He was in favor of freedom and advocated things like freedom of religion, freedom of personal expression, international free trade and, of all things, state politics free from the politics of the church!

What?  Separation of church and state?  And individual freedoms?

So what did he mean when he said business?  Busy ness?  Yes, in a way.

What is business?  When I studied economics in college I, smartly, had a business and economics dictionary!  Here is a good definition of business:

"An economic system in which goods and services are voluntarily exchanged for one another or money, on the basis of their perceived worth. Every business requires some form of investment and a sufficient number of customers to whom its output can be sold at profit on a consistent basis."  (This is from businessdictionary.com)

There are some key concepts there, with some implied:
1.  Voluntary exchange
2.  Perceived worth
3.  Risk (investment)
4.  A product or service that people want
5.  CONSISTENT profit

Without the last, the business will fail.  Certainly the object of business is to profit.  It's purpose is not to provide social opportunity, employee benefits, back political causes, fund clubs and teams, free give-a-ways, a Christmas party for everyone in Hawaii, or anything like that.  The business owner(s) can CHOOSE to do all of those things and more.  But they can only be done with profits!

But what does Voltaire mean identifying business with salt?

What is salt?  Certainly one of the tastes built into the human ability to distinguish taste, so it works great for seasoning food.  But salt is also used in preservation!

In Roman society, the gubment (the army) sometimes paid soldiers in salt.  The soldiers traded it in the market place for what they needed.  Hence the word SALary.  And Romans were fond of eating leafy vegetables seasoned with salt, and they called it a SALad, literally meaning "salted."

Looking at the list of five things up there associated with the definition of business might give a clue as to what Voltaire understood.  Business promotes freedom!  Business provides seasoning to the society!  Business PRESERVES those freedoms and that society as standards of living are improved through the introduction of goods, services and innovation!

Recently I heard interviews with people who were attending a particular convention.  They were asked about business profits and if those profits should be made illegal.  Yes, of course, profits should be outlawed they said!  There should be no profit!

These are people who clearly have no idea how an economy works.  They have no idea how a society (civilization really) is organized and maintained.  These are people who have never employed anyone and if they ever do it won't be for long.  These are people whose ideas, and the kind of society they promote, will end up in the trash bin of history.  These people are morons.

And if we vote for people like them we will all end up getting dragged down into the trash bin of history...


  1. When there is no profit there will be no one in business. No one will take a risk without an incentive. The risk is losing money and going out of business.
    Today after the election I feel like the trash bin is going to get a little fuller...because of those people who have no idea how the economy works...life goes on. And we never give up.
    Thanks for the good info, Jay.

  2. Sorry, but as to your comment you are identified as "Unknown!"

    Of course without profit there would be nobody in business. How could people start anything without promise of reward or a future?

    As to the trash bin, it appears the choice was between a mean guy who suggested the American way (hard work and reward) to get ahead and a nice guy who promises free ice cream for everyone. I think those "entitled" to free ice cream outnumber those who would be force to work hard to pay for it. That is certainly a recipe for the trash bin!

    Thanks for stopping by! Come again!


  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.