Until humanity becomes a spiritually powered collective, Capitalism has delivered a higher standard of living to more of humanity than any other form of government.
Even the Greeks and Romans, who other than gifting us the Olympics and chariot racing also greatly furthered science, politics and the fine arts along with many other remarkable acts of progress, were built on the sweat of slaves and the blood of mercenaries. All paid for by the mighty gold coin.
The kingdoms of Egypt, Mesopotamia and many others were likewise built upon strong thinking and the power of money.
So now we all have the comfort of la-z-boy chairs, climate controlled cars, gluten free everything, and smashed avocado we get all high and mighty about how grubby money is... Really?
Formula One more than many sports is considered wallet racing.
Yet this is true of all sports.
I've a friend that's just spent big on custom darts, finished in a specific colour to give better sighting contrast against bright coloured dart boards. A small pile of gold obtained this benefit.
One can buy a competitive go-kart for around $10,000 (£5,000) and it will last a season or two with care. But if you want to qualify well you are going to burn hundreds in tyres each race weekend, and for best results an eye watering amount must be spent on regular engine rebuilds. Is that not junior wallet racing?
New Zealand has most marvellously recaptured the America’s Cup. Their super high technology hydro planing speed machine, complete with the world first 'cycling' deck hands, was not the work of a few late nights in the garden shed and a couple of old floor boards. It was a minor stroke of genius and a huge pile of cash. Gold, gold and more gold unleashed the beast.
Even online smartphone based games allow accelerated progress in exchange for dollars.
It's all wallet racing.
I've long maintained that "Road Relevance" is simply a smoke screen to allow the car loving, motorsport mad senior managers within car manufacturers to go racing with the blessing of the CEO and the board, rather than either receive their curse, or worse yet, a flat refusal.
Through a mix of the "direct cash saving benefit" of the free advertising (which requires a large free to air audience), world class entertainment for key clients and partners, and the Divine blessing of "Road Relevance", the motorsport mad managers have successfully taken their companies racing for a hundred years. As long as the cost justification can be made to stack-up, the activity is allowed to proceed. Sure Honda, and Renault, talk about rewarding engineers with places in the racing program, but this is simply another line of internal justification. The key is making it look like the dollars stack-up. If the dollars do not make sense it is never going to fly as a positive affirmation graduate engineering program. Trust me.
If the benefit of the free advertising is lost to pay TV deals, as the audience numbers collapse, and road relevance vanishes faster than morning dew in Las Vegas, the manufacturers in Formula One will vanish a few moments later.
And who offers to save us with a new engine supply should this apocalypse be visited upon us? Why good old Cosworth.
Here we are with Renault and Honda struggling to match the might of Ferrari and Mercedes, and Cosworth suggests that with an engine development budget about the same size as the biscotti petty cash fund at Maranello they can save the day. In the current environment no chance.
But if all the road relevance drains from the series like so much spilt battery acid, well now we have a different racing environment. As the manufacturers all bow out with the grace of an intoxicated karaoke singer our old mate Cosworth will stroll in with an engine perfectly sized to the newly shrunk budgets. The wallet racing can continue at a lower level, no harm done.
And yet is this what we want? Should Formula One retain some semblance of road relevance, or does it no longer need that myth to continue? No matter how you squint at it, any form of competition still has an element of wallet racing. Especially so as soon as one departs from the purity of boxing or Olympic sprinting.
Yes great training and coaching, and junior development programs to discover future champions, all take time and money, and the more money spent usually the better the results of the search. Yet these sports, more than any other, then rely on the raw capabilities of the athlete. No amount of money will turn our esteemed editor Mr Balfe into Usain Bolt. Yes the search needs funding, and then training venues are required. But the core ingredient for boxing and Olympic success, once the future star is identified, is the raw ability and passion of the selected athlete.
All the crew on the New Zealand America’s Cup craft were supremely fit. Yet if you’d placed them back in the mighty winged keel of Australia Two (the 1983 America’s Cup winner) they would probably still be out on the course trying to finish last month’s race series while the Yanks were drinking champagne from their deck shoes. Gold allows one to move on and innovate. No gold, no technological sporting progress.
Within such complex sports, the technology and the equipment is a core part of winning. And each requires a pot of gold to be eternally refreshed by endless rainbows for them to be world class season after season.
Enzo Ferrari only started building roads cars to finance his racing addiction. He needed money to finance continuing racing glory. Even his remarkable character and passion would amount to nothing without that pot of gold to make it all possible.
After Ferrari, Mercedes relish the joy of winning more than any other manufacturer. Consider the sorry end to the Jaguar racing story when Ford was a bit short of lunch money. The wonder that is Red Bull could have been theirs if they'd only kept their nerve and continued spending.
But reduce that free audience that validates the "dollar saving" on all those free advertising minutes, and remove road relevance as we all start rolling from A to B in electric powered, robot guided hover cars, and all of a sudden Formula One is a huge spend, for what? Capitalist industries do not exist for fun. They exist for profit and eye watering executive bonuses.
Removal of free to air coverage, coupled with zero road relevance would see Formula One return to the days of quaint garagistes and well-mannered racers largely ignored by manufacturers and the wider public. Like horse riding it will transform into a well-supported minority sport for the wealthy. It will cost tens of millions less to race than today, but no one will really care, other than those taking part.
And just as no one goes train racing or ocean liner racing anymore so it will be that as the wallets required to race shrink so will public interest. And, as if overnight, the manufacturers will be competing on sound systems and hand finished interiors for clients, so no need to race on Sunday and sell on Monday any more, while Cosworth will right size an engine to suit the willing wallets of lady and gentlemen racers around the World.
The wallet racing will continue and budget caps will be unnecessary because, as they so often do, Capitalist "free market" (such irony) forces will settle the budgets back to a level the competitors can just afford.
Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here