Less Is More: A Manifesto for Human Survival

Albert Einstein’s IQ is estimated to have been around 160. The average American’s IQ is 98. If an Einstein-like mind can be said to represent the upper stratus of individual intelligence in this country, please note that his IQ was not even double that of the current national average.

Based on intelligence alone, then, does any man, woman, magnate or CEO deserve to make more than twice as much money as the average rest of us based on how smart they are?

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shattered the world record in the 100-meter dash by running it in 9.58 seconds. The average working adult in America probably runs the 100 meters in 17-20 seconds and even the uncoordinated or mildly decrepit can probably manage it in 30 seconds. If Bolt can be used as an example of the highest level of coordination and speed that a human being can achieve, please note that his record-breaking time in the 100 meter dash probably isn’t even three time faster than ours.

Based on speed or coordination alone, then, does any man, woman or athlete deserve to make three times as much money as one of us based on how fast they move?

A week has 168 hours in it. The average work week is 40 hours. The practical maximum number of hours a person can work in a day for weeks and months at a time is probably 16 hours. But let’s say someone really motivated adds an extra eight hours to the 112-hour work week achieved at a 16-hour-a-day pace and consistently strings together 120-hour work weeks. Even if someone managed this incredible clip, he or she would only be working three times as much as one of us; so is there any way, based on the number of hours worked per week alone, anyone could deserve to make more than three times what the average worker makes in a week?

Some folks are stronger than others, to be sure; and some folks went to college. But the average professional football player isn’t three times stronger than your average man and, I’m sorry, but the average college student isn’t three times as educated as someone who just settled for a high school degree.

But let’s say—hypothetically speaking—that we stumbled up against the ultimate wage or salary earner. Let’s say he or she was two times smarter, three times faster, three times stronger, had a college degree and regularly worked 120 hours per week—even at that exaggerated pace and preposterous performance level, the basic math indicates that he or she would never deserve in excess of 162 times more than the average employee in the workplace. And yet we have corporate CEOs that earn five and ten times that.

Truth be told, our ultimate wage-earner does not exist and never will exist. And, arguably, there isn’t a human being on this planet who’s worth more than ten times the next, much less 100 times the next. Sorry, again, but no one is that special. And no one is that indispensable.

Conceding these suppositions, then, compels us to answer two unpleasant but unavoidable questions.

First, regardless of how smart someone is or how hard he or she works, what kind of human being honestly believes they are 100 times more deserving than another?

Second, what kind of human being is actually driven to become the kind of human being who—in good conscience—receives 100 times more than another?

The former epitomizes what is worst in us as a species. The latter diminishes any hope we have for the future of our species.

The planet’s resources are finite. The planet’s ecosystems are imbalanced. Most of the planet’s inhabitants are endangered. If our individual or collective definitions of success endanger other species or our own, jeopardize our habitats (specifically or generally) or deplete our natural resources, then we are not defining or achieving success. We are promulgating failure.

If the short-term “means” for a people’s way of life are Capitalism, Materialism and/or greed in general, the long-term “ends” are death, destruction and doom. It can’t be said any plainer. And we—as a culture and a species—pretend otherwise at our own rapidly approaching peril.

There’s nothing wrong with being successful unless success is meted out in increments of extravagance or superfluity. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful unless you’re measuring your own success in terms of extravagance or superfluity.

Our species will not survive as a pampered class or preferred tax bracket. The only abundance we should be encouraging is that of this very awareness. And any enlightened society should begin gauging individual worth in terms of the acknowledgement of this awareness and the steps we take to thwart the power and control of wealth and the wealthy.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on March 18th, 2011 at 8:39am #

    Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check. ~M.C. Escher

  2. kalidasa said on March 18th, 2011 at 1:06pm #

    They also say psychopaths are 1% or 2% of the population.
    Why does it seem like they are at least 50% minimum?

    No to to mention the % of you know whos which feels like you know what.

  3. Kim Petersen said on March 18th, 2011 at 3:21pm #

    I like this article, but I don’t agree with the implication that IQ equals a measure of global intelligence.

  4. Don Hawkins said on March 18th, 2011 at 3:32pm #

    ER where I live tomorrow it will be 90 degrees F is that a record oh yes it sure is and my peach trees and all the blueberries a tad bit early like two months. Watermelon, corn, cotton all early.

  5. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2011 at 2:41am #

    Last night on CNN a scientist was on and I didn’t get his name but said the nuclear reactors need to be covered over with a few known element’s sealed like in Russia. He did go on to say the government in Japan and the power company live in a parallel universe it seems so I guess there thinking is out of this World. Maybe the United States could help them with covering over the reactors because we sure don’t live in a parallel universe here in the States. Maybe the scientist last night was trying to send a message as I always’ liked, People of Earth my fellow human’s. He did also bring up Faustian bargain.

    According to traditional Christian belief in witchcraft, the pact is between a person and Satan or any other demon (or demons); the person offers his or her soul in exchange for diabolical favors. Those favors vary by the tale, but tend to include youth, knowledge, wealth, or power. It was also believed that some persons made this type of pact just as a sign of recognizing the Devil as their master, in exchange for nothing. Regardless, the bargain is a dangerous one, as the price of the Fiend’s service is the wagerer’s soul. The tale may have a moralizing end, with eternal damnation for the foolhardy venturer. Conversely it may have a comic twist, in which a wily peasant outwits the Devil, characteristically on a technical point. Wiki

    He did bring the Faustian bargain up in the context of how Japan get’s there power, electricity. At the end of his talk he did say in one hundred years human’s will be almost God like and be able to move thing’s with just there minds. In a hundred years will there still be wealth and power?

  6. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2011 at 3:50am #

    When they finally extinguished the fires, an army of workers conscripted by the then Soviet government buried the reactor in thousands of tons of sand, then threw together a concrete container known as the “sarcophagus”.

    Despite costing hundreds of millions of pounds, the “sarcophagus” is already falling apart – and fears are growing that it is leaking radiation again.

    Now they want to spend a further £600 million building an even bigger containment building, to put a lasting lid on the leak.

    The situation at the Fukushima plant is likely to be even more complex and expensive because it involves not just one reactor but six. Telegraph

    More expensive well that’s out but then again you can’t eat money and don’t drink the milk or water, food in general the food that is not under water or was under water. Cover the damn thing up.

  7. jonsol69 said on March 19th, 2011 at 4:01am #

    Silent Hands

    Brick by brick they were built,
    By the many hands now broken,
    For the few pockets of well spoken.

    Cheap labour and life, prosper crown and cross.
    With lies of wealth and freedom,
    The dead are silenced of wisdom.
    - Jon Solis. jonsol69.blogspot.com

  8. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2011 at 4:03am #

    {http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es903884a}

    Cover this up oh that’s right already a done deal that’s a wall street term here’s another one all on the upside no down side risk.

  9. MICHAEL said on March 19th, 2011 at 4:18pm #

    E.R.Bills: 3/19/2011
    This is where, “The words got in the way.”
    “If an Einstein – like mind can be said to represent the upper
    stratus of individual intelligence in this country…”
    (A) Intelligence and feelings do not necessarily go
    hand – in – hand.Generally speaking,it is not what people know,but
    how they feel about certain things or events that causes them to
    react or respond the way they do.(Excluding individuals trained
    to react/respond to a crises situation).
    (B) “Based on speed or coordination,then,…to make three
    times as much as one of us…” Yes,why? Don’t forget all the lucrative
    advertisements and season ticket holders.” It’s how they feel – GOOD!
    First question,Look up, at the people who are looking down
    on you!
    Second question,Pay someone 100 times what they are
    worth,and they will show you they are driven.
    Also,remember “It is not what you know,but who you know.”
    I think it is reasonable not to expect any significant changes
    regarding humanity and the enviornment.Arthur Schopenhauer,had it
    right. Change will only occur if and when it is sanctioned and approved
    by the “Board of Directors.”And not one moment sooner!
    Thanking you for your attention to this matter,I am
    J.M.deLaurier # 9

  10. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2011 at 4:35pm #

    ICONIC ERUPTION: A huge filament of magnetism and hot plasma blasted off the sun’s southwestern limb today, March 19th, at around 1200 UT. The eruption was not Earth-directed, but it was iconic. Just look at this snapshot recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

    Many amateur astronomers in Europe witnessed the blast and said it was the biggest one they’d ever seen. This event continues the recent trend of increasing solar activity, and shows anew that Solar Cycle 24 is gaining steam after a long period of relative quiet.

    Any real plans in place just on the off chance not really much to busy with it’s the economy stupid or war.
    On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, most notably over the Caribbean; also noteworthy were those over the Rocky Mountains that were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning.[4]

    Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed in some cases even shocking telegraph operators. Telegraph pylons threw sparks and telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire. Some telegraph systems appeared to continue to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies. Wiki

    Silly Human’s

  11. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2011 at 4:38pm #

    {http://www.spaceweather.com/swpod2011/19mar11/iconic.jpg?PHPSESSID=vrsmlkj0lpsnahpada0rug3b44}
    Take a look.