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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Quote of the day......

I just read Ayn Rand's book of essays, The Virtue of Selfishness. I think that Rand uses selfishness as a semantic toy that plays with the less deprecating but more acceptable concept of personal self interest. She argues through her philosophy of Objectivist Ethics that self interest/selfishness is normal and natural human behavior and that altruism is nothing more than selfish behavior designed to provide some personal benefit.

But the quote of the day deals with greed and has a kinship with selfishness and self interest. We have heard our government officials and our intellectual superiors lambast greed and/or greedy bankers particularly during the last financial crisis. But when I hear these screeds against greed I have to step back and ask, what is greed?

As as the attached essay writer correctly points out, is it greed that drives the people behind Google to create what they have created? I think, yes, that the monetary benefits drive innovation and a desire to succeed but this is probably not 100% of what has driven all successful people or the creators at Google. So given that they have been at least partially motivated by the desire to achieve monetary rewards (greed) one can think and possibly conclude that they have not created these businesses altruistically. In fairness, they would probably have created these businesses without the high levels of monetary compensation that has been thrown at them since this is probably something that they love to do anyway. Their large monetary rewards probably were not the total and complete driving force behind the genesis of their idea and they gained these large monetary rewards opportunistically. And one can also consider that these people may also been motivated by many other benefits that come packaged with creation. In creation, these people gain other benefits such as acknowledgment by others, pride, admiration and creating a lasting monument to their own personal creativity. Maybe these people value this too. But as we decontruct the concept of greed as it pertains to creation of monetary wealth we have to consider not just the wealthy but all levels of wealth creation.....
Calling those who are wealthy greedy solely because of their wealth, or to suggest that the human drive for a better life is the same as greed muddles our thinking. Muddled thinking is dangerous because it can lead to policies that punish both virtue and vice, that interfere with our inalienable right to pursue happiness, and lead to more, not less, poverty.
One also has to consider as we are being lectured at by our intellectual superiors at what level is enough money enough? What if we were to argue that $1 million is enough. Then, maybe many creations would never exisit today. Maybe at $1 million Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would have been stopped since they have already earned enough early in their careers.

I do not think that making money or even outrageous sums of money is a vice and I think that this fellow hits a monstrous modern paradox square on its head. The concept that "Greed is bad" is a paradox that just cannot stand. One can argue that excessive greed or excessive self interest is bad but this excess cannot be objectively defined. Furthermore, I do not think that we are even talkign about greed that has kindled illegal or immoral behavior. This is clearly bad and the violation of moral rules and societal laws is easy to define as bad. But I and I do not think others can objectively define at what level is it natural self interest and what level above that defines greed?

However, our personal thinking on this is not at all muddled. Each one of knows what this is and what we would like to achieve. Who among us doesn't want comfort? Who among us would not welcome the opportunity to create something that mankind finds useful and values it such and gives monetary compensation and recognition of achievement in return for our creation and production of this product?

Ayn Rand argues that selfishness or greed is not a vice since it is really completely engulfed by self interest. If creativity is rewarded in our culture then how can super creative/successful people be bludgeoned with the label of greedy?

I am of the opinion that government officials and our intellectual superiors use this crude tool of defining monetary successful people as greedy so that they can create justification for seizing these people's assets. In order to get at the money, and these people want this money to use for their own purposes, define the wealthy as greedy in order to try to create the moral high ground to to justify seizing the product of these people's labor. Its a flimsy plank to be standing upon and one that if allowed to continue will only weaken our connection to our property and our right to earn and keep the product of our labors.

Ayn Rand talks about selfishness and altruism in this video....

Ayn Rand argues that even love is a not a completely virtuous act. The last little bit reveals the depth of the thinking that went on in the Objectivist Ethics community...

Enterprise, Not Greed, Creates A Better World - Charles Kadlec - Community of Liberty - Forbes


At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glenzo, You self absorbed, greedy, egotistical, selfish, moron. How dare you infer Google is comparable to the traitorous scum such as yourself that rape our economy and provide nothing of value for it. Google provides a service you ass. When will you stop rationalizing glutonous greed is capitalism? Your not a refugee in China, you're a whiny hate filled money whore that doesn't want to give back. Move to mainland "real" China and see how long you last. Explain to me again how the working middle class ruined the economy. How are the architects of the financial instruments that lined there pockets while driving the economy into the ground victims of the working poor? I haven't been here in a while hoping you would have gotten help and started talking about helping people instead of keeping your precious money. You'll never have enough and you'll never be happy because of it. When the collapse comes and money is worthless I hope you know how to do more than whine to provide for your family.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger glenzo said...

funny to see you here again. worms are usually found under rocks not commenting on brilliant philosophy

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll give you credit, for being the devil you do have a sense of humor. See you in about a year. Get help.


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