Class Warfare Blog

October 18, 2013

Greed is Good?

A study has shown that the more one studies economics, the more positive one feels about greed. And economists are quick to use the term homo economicus (economic man) to describe modern people, as if we have stopped evolving physically and now are only evolving socially and homo economicus is our natural state.

So economics is based upon greed, even though they say it is “enlightened self-interest” instead of greed but then define “enlightened” as what serves one’s self interest. Our democracy, on the other hand, is based on the exact antithesis: collaboration. This grand experiment, many forget, constitutes a claim that we can govern ourselves, rather than having some divinely sanctioned monarch rule us for our own good. (Interesting that it was always for our own good and the monarchs always got rich and still do.)

In order for us to govern ourselves we have to continually strive to do the most good and the least harm, not necessarily that which creates the most profit. Currently we are failing in that endeavor.

What I am saying is there is a direct conflict between capitalism and democracy. There must be a balance between the two forces for us to survive. Unfortunately that balance has been lost. Our Congress has been bought and paid for by the monied interests. The average wealth of those serving as Congressmen is about $14,000,000 and few of them brought it with them when they entered Congress. Also, they stand to make even more when they leave public service and start lobbying those left behind.

We must get the money out of politics. It is absolutely essential. We can start by allowing only those represented by an official, actively or prospectively, to donate money to their representatives campaigns. (Yes, others have the right to free speech, so they can argue that constituents need to financially support a particular candidate but only if the source of the money behind the communication is made clear. They do not have the right to steamroll a district into electing a candidate they wouldn’t otherwise on a wave of out of district money.) We can set reasonable limits on how much any one person (including corporations) can contribute. We can start by requiring Congressmen to recuse themselves if they have received donations from any entity covered by any prospective law. We can start by replacing the political judges on the Supreme Court with some actually willing to be independent. We can start by taxing the rich; they have proven they cannot be trusted with that much free speech.



  1. “claim that we can govern ourselves, rather than having some divinely sanctioned monarch rule us for our own good”

    This sentence is true. That was exactly the experiment, and a noble one it was. It amazes me, then, that toward the end of his 2nd term the FIRST POTUS was offered Kingship. Don’t Americans find this rather odd?


    Comment by john zande — October 18, 2013 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

    • As the gangster in “Analyze This” said, “Yeah, I was gonna whack yuh, but I was conflicted about it.” Complex country. But it is a common tendency among humans: to give over to somebody deemed superior things we should do for ourselves, hence the various gods and worshiped politicians. What is it about our insecurity that we really, really want somebody “better” to “lead” us?


      Comment by stephenpruis — October 18, 2013 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  2. >What I am saying is there is a direct conflict between capitalism and democracy.

    You have some of the heavy hitters of political philosophy on your side:

    “A free people are kept so, by no other Means than an equal Distribution of Property; every Man, who has a Share of Property, having a proportionable Share of Power; and the first Seeds of Anarchy, (which, for the most part, ends in Tyranny) are produced from hence, that some are ungovernably rich, and many more are miserably poor.”

    John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in Cato’s Letters (1720)


    Comment by Peter Walsh — October 18, 2013 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

    • True, but we have chosen to have an “unequal distribution of property” but haven’t figured out how to controll the inequality. If we just let it float, we suffer from positive feedback loops (as we do now).


      Comment by stephenpruis — October 19, 2013 @ 7:47 am | Reply

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