“Columbus was searching for hardware — precious metals, silk, and spices — the sources of wealth in his day. I was searching for software, brainpower, complex algorithms, knowledge workers, call centers, transmission protocols, breakthroughs in optical engineering — the sources of wealth in our day.”
Thomas Friedman,
The World Is Flat

Choosing the right topic to start a blog is difficult. As a previous owner and contributor of blogs (Homo Homini Lupus RIP, Libro Libertate and Capitalismo) I’ve found that my interests were always linked to one idea: Wealth.  Indeed, Wealth has played a role in every single decision I’ve made. From choosing which book to read, starting a business or planning for my career development I’ve always been interested in a difficult topic: Wealth creation.

As such, I have decided to start my last blog in the celebration of Columbus Day.  A day like today on October 12th, 1492 the three ships leaded by the Italian sailor Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.  It is important to note that America was not discovered by Columbus, the Continent was already inhabited by millions of humans that had developed some of the richest and most educated civilizations on Earth.  However, the impact of his discovery amounted less than 50 years later to one of the major transfers of technology, institutions, crops, diseases and commerce than the world had ever seen.

The effects of Columbus discovery are still now evident and engineered one of the largest path-dependencies on history.  American soil (it started to be recognized as America until 15 years later) and its biological life was to transform forever.  Millions of humans were conquered and ruled by the Spanish, English, Dutch and French Crowns and millions of them died because of diseases transferred from Europe, Africa and Asia. Hundreds of different plants and animals were introduced and exported to and from the continent modifying forever the ecosystems of a large part of the planet.

Today, Columbus Day should represent for us that singular moment of globalization in which an infinite amount of transfers occurred.  These transfers reshaped the globe into a realm of interconnectedness never seen before.  Finally, in 1492 the six continents of the world were connected for the first time.  Today, we have benefited and suffered many changes that resulted from that historical moment.

It shall be the aim of this blog to study, discuss and identify those events that modified the course of history and emphasize which were those principles, decisions and achievements that enabled for more men to pursue happiness.  Lets us learn from the past!

About Guillermo Pineda

Soy un defensor de la libertad individual, el libre mercado racional y la búsqueda de crear un estado de derecho en el que todos podamos desarrollarnos en igualdad, paz, fraternidad y comunidad. Creo que el trabajo duro en equipo, la autoestima y el amor por nuestra familia son la energía primaria para la generación de riqueza en nuestras comunidades. Busco la la objetividad y la razón en la epistemología y considero que el valor supremo por el que se deben medir los juicios de valor éticos es el valor de la vida humana. Considero la vida el más alto valor; pero no cualquier tipo de vida, sino la vida que se vive buscando la felicidad en ausencia de coerción o privilegios. Creo que no hay humanos, razas, culturas o pensamientos mejores o superiores. Sin embargo, sí creo que hay argumentos erróneos e irracionales que deben ser combatidos en el campo de las ideas. Así, también creo que enseñar y practicar una vida sin argumentos místicos y contradicciones filosóficas es una herramienta imprescindible para demostrar que la búsqueda de la felicidad sí es posible y no es una utopía. Creo que los fundamentos del capitalismo laissez-faire proveen de las herramientas necesarias para crear un mejor futuro. Pero también acepto que los privilegios heredados y existentes, las injusticias cometidas en el pasado, las guerras y la actual moral contradictoria e irracional de las elites son el principal enemigo para que este sistema funcione. Por eso, considero que es necesario y FUNDAMENTAL estudiar la historia de manera objetiva, global, consistente y que luego, se realicen las reparaciones necesarias y posibles con aquellas naciones, pueblos, grupos y personas que han sido afectados. Creo que solo empezando con una consciencia limpia se puede empezar a construir un futuro limpio. Finalmente, creo que solo cuando logremos hacer una revolución moral que nos enseñe las herramientas para buscar la felicidad podremos vivir en paz respetando los principios éticos y jurídicos, la libre autodeterminación de los pueblos, la verdad y la justicia, y la tolerancia cultural de un planeta con infinitas y variadas costumbres y tradiciones. Por lo tanto defiendo que: El hombre es un fin en sí mismo y que la realidad es una verdad absoluta compuesta por hechos independientes de los sentimientos humanos. Creo en la razón como el medio más importante para percibir la realidad y además creo en la razón como la fuente más valiosa del conocimiento y guía de acción para la búsqueda de la felicidad individual, de nuestras familias, de nuestras comunidades y de toda la especie humana. Creo fehacientemente en que el hombre es un fin en sí mismo y no el medio para los fines de otros. Rechazo el sacrificio de uno o de un grupo para el beneficio de otro u otros grupos. Pero afirmo la responsabilidad y necesidad de reparar y reivindicar los crímenes cometidos por la humanidad a lo largo de la historia. Me propongo buscar mi satisfaccion racional y busco alcanzar la felicidad como el valor moral más alto de mi vida. No simpatizo con los defensores del colectivismo, del altruismo irracional y de los polilogismos de raza, clase, status o cultura. Tampoco simpatizo con los defensores del gobierno benefactor que buscando políticas altruistas o colectivistas esté dispuesto a sacrificar la vida de los humanos y sus derechos individuales sin su previo consentimiento en las urnas. Reconozco la moralidad del altruismo irracional como uno de los mayores enemigos del ser humano pues el mismo establece que el hombre no tiene ningún derecho a vivir par sí mismo, sino, para la colectividad. El altruismo no es más que la proclamación del sacrificio por otros como el mayor deber moral del hombre y es una amenaza a la razón y libertad individual. Declaro ser un defensor de las ideas que defienden el derecho de los individuos a buscar su felicidad racional y pacífica. Bragging rights Soy un individualista que ama a su comunidad de la misma manera en que quiere ser amado por ella.

7 responses »

  1. Food for thought: “Wealth in the contemporary, post-industrial world is not simply to be found in resources, but rather in ideas, entrepreneurial instincts and skills. The wealth of nations is no longer stuff in the ground; the wealth of nations resides in the human mind, in human creativity.”
    (George Weigel, cited by Andreas Windmer in his new book, The Pope and the CEO)

    Congratulations on your new blog, Guillermo!

    • condottiero says:

      Thank you very much! I’ll aim to discover as many entrepreneurial ideas and skills in History as possible!

      This reminds me a lot to the book we read in the Public Choice course you teach at UFM: “the underlying source of the West’s ability to attract the lightning of economic revolutions was a unique use of experiment in technology and organization to harness resources to the satisfaction of human wants. The key elements of the system where the wide diffusion of the authority and resources necessary to experiment; an absence of more than rudimentary political and religious restrictions on experiment; and incentives which combined ample rewards for success, defined as the widespread economic use of the results of experiment, with a risk of severe penalties for failing to experiment…. The thematic terms are thus autonomy, experiment, and diversity.” How The West Grew Rich by Rosenberg and Birdzell
      The key elements of the system were then, not just the wide diffusion of the authority and resources necessary to experiment as Rosenberg and Birdzell mention; but the entrepreneurial minds that risked their lives and property to experiment and satisfy human wants.

  2. Mher says:

    Happy Columbus Day!🙂

  3. Guille!
    Good Luck with your new blog, I wish you the best, and hopefully you can write about the new things you learn while abroad studying your master’s.

    I completely agree with you that the “discovery” of America marked a major break point in history due mostly to the institutional transfer you mention.

    As such this is a “natural experiment” which Acemoglu, et al. have used to try to estimate the effect of the colonial institutions adopted over wealth creation in a historical perspective.

    Their thesis called “the reversal of fortune” states that regions with higher population density adopted extractive institutions vs. “frontier” regions which had lower population density and where colonized by settlers who adopted institutions more respectful of property rights; the kind of institutions adopted generated a path dependent institutional setting which can explain much of the actual differences in income across countries.

    This is a thesis which many historians have proposed, but the value of their contribution is to find empirical evidence for it.

    I don’t know if you have already read it, but I highly recommend two of the papers they wrote:

    http://baselinescenario.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/reversal-of-fortune.pdf
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2677930

    • condottiero says:

      Thanks a lot, I’ll check the papers and go back with you. State-building in America was indeed the result of different interests. I wonder if those settlers that adopted institutions more respectful of property rights did it because they had a different understanding of themselves and the regions they had just conquered, or if it was the result of a power-based psycho-epistemology in which they had no chance to enslave (dominate) indians and as such work for themselves. I’ll go back with you and thanks for sharing those pdfs!

      PS: I am taking a class on “International Statebuilding: From Colonialism to the Post-9/11 World” with Professor Markus Michael Müller and its been wonderful so far!

  4. Edwin Mendez says:

    Congratulation!! Powerful writings!!

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