“Greed Is Good” Michael Douglas in Wall Street
John Kenneth Galbraith
Photo from Britanica.com
The modern conservative is not even especially modern. He is engaged, on the contrary, in one of man’s oldest, best financed, most applauded, and, on the whole, least successful exercises; One of the last is most often cited: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. It is an exercise which always involves a certain number of internal contradictions and even a few absurdities. The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character-building value of privation for the poor.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith [“Stop the Madness,” Interview with Rupert Cornwell, Toronto Globe and Mail (6 Jul 2002)]
In counterpoint to “trickle-down economics” the theory has historically previously been branded as the “horse and sparrow theory” of the 1890’s whereby “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through for the sparrows” as well as “The rich pissing on the poor” by a New Zealand labour MP. These gross caricatures of elimination, unkind treatment and condescension, even if inelegant, aren’t inaccurate. Keynesian and other theories claim that tax cuts for the wealthy aren’t used for productive investing but rather for personal gain. 2012 research, by the Tax Justice Network verifies that the wealth of the ultra wealthy doesn’t trickle down to improve the economy but amasses and shelters in tax havens with a negative effect on the tax base of the entire home economy. Professor Ha-Joon Chang sites examples of “slowing job growth in the last few decades, rising income inequality in most rich nations, and the inability provision in raising living standards across all income brackets rather than at the top only”
“The privileged have regularly invited their own destruction with their greed.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty
“One blueprint for trouble, making collapse likely, is when there’s a conflict of interest between the short term interest of the decision-making elite and the long-term interests of society as a whole especially if the elite are able to insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions. Where what’s good for the short run for the elite is bad for the society as a whole, there’s a real risk that the elite will do something bad to bring society down in the long run…Those same issues, of a conflict of interest, are acute in the United States today especially because the elite decision-makers are able to isolate themselves from the consequences of their actions…In the last couple of years it’s been obvious that the elite in the business world correctly perceive that they can advance their short-term interests by doing things that are good for them but bad for society as a whole.” – Jared Diamond on Why Societies Collapse
It’s not money but, more to the point, selfishness that’s the root of evil. (See Intent)
“Know, self is the only excuse. Self is the only sin; that is, selfishness, and all the others, are just a modification of that expression of the ego.” – Edgar Cayce 1362-1
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, T. Boone Pickens, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, are among 125 of the world’s wealthiest individuals who have signed The Giving Pledge thereby becoming the best possible personal/corporate role models by dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. To other wealthy candidates this doesn’t necessarily mean that protracted harm to society can be karmically assuaged by a charitable bequest – but it’s better than naught.
“Anything that isn’t given is lost” – Anon.