The Californian Gold Rush and Before the Rainbow
Gold was first discovered in California by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma in 1848 and this soon led to what is now called the Californian Gold Rush.  When the gold rush occurred there were two main forms of wealth to be made.  The obvious one was gold, and the less obvious one was trade.  Many people feel that the merchants, the hardware store owners, the service providers such as theatres, saloons, and even brothels made more money than miners during the Gold Rush  The reality is doubtless more complex and it is likely that the net wealth made from gold in the early years far outstretched profits made by merchants, but there is little doubt that they both did extremely well in many cases.
Overall the rush for gold caused many people to compete for the available wealth.  This is a well known and established behaviour of the human condition.  The Western world's economic system is largely built on the idea that humans will serve their own self interest with vigour.  This seems to be sadly transformed into the rather judgemental and bitter view that humans are selfish in the worst sense.  Adam Smith, who is regarded as the father of capitalism, wrote the now famous book "Wealth of Nations" which was published in 1776.  The first of the five books comprising the Wealth of Nations opens with the following:  "How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."
Human beings do not like to live surrounded by miserable and poor people.  Apart from the obvious insecurity it is abhorrent to them in their inherent empathy for others.  People are motivated to communicate and share.  Service industries thrive on the good feelings generated by making others happy.  If one can make a living doing it then that is two very fundamental desires dealt with.  In the modern world there is inequality on a magnificent scale.  During the industrial revolution the gap between the rich and the poor widened and although the world is generally getting wealthier there is a horrible wealth gap between the rich on the planet and the poor.  Whilst most people reading this on the internet in the year 2008 will be well fed there are at least a billion people in the world who do not have enough to eat.
At whatever scale one looks at it there is good reason for finding new ways to generate and share wealth with specifically the people who haven't got it.  Charity is a sad necessity when the free market is driven to be more interested in the people with more money.  But there is a good aspect to all of this.  As the markets become saturated and there is less "profit" to be made from the ever increasing competition for the rich man's dollar then there is more ingenuity likely to be employed in getting a bit of the poor man's dollar.  To get hold of the poor man's dollar he first has to have a few.  So there is reasonable expectation that by doing work which facilitates the poorer nations in becoming wealthier everybody will become better off.
The nice thing is that in a very "chaos theory" sort of way this happens at all levels and dimensions.  Large global companies like Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline are finding new ways to use the profit motive to extend their influence and beneficial effects around the world.  The (RED) initiative is giving more and more companies financial incentive to fight AIDS.  And on a smaller scale there are more entrepreneurial activities on the internet.  Rather like the shovel makers in the gold rush there are individuals trying to make a living helping other people find the wealth they need.  These sorts of activities will help spread the internet profits far afield and across economic and geographical boundaries.  This all helps to redistribute the dosh.
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