... Maybe in the end material circumstances are not important. Maybe poverty would not prevent spiritual wealth. Maybe if we were poorer, we'd be happier, or more fulfilled. Most of us seem unwilling to take that chance, however. Thanks to the effort of those who came before us, thanks to our own efforts, we don't have to take that chance.Amen!
... Life might be better all round if as a species we weren't acquisitive. But we do seem to be acquisitive. And it has brought hundreds of millions of us to a standard of living that while probably pitiful by the standards of the future is astounding by the standards of the past.
... Excessive acquisitiveness we usually call "greed." Critics of capitalism, from Marx to Moore, see it as a system founded on greed. Acquisitiveness and self-interest are clearly key to capitalism. But is most people's acquisitiveness really excessive? Is the desire to work hard, to save and to better oneself really "greed"?
... who's to say what's excessive? One man's obsession is another man's passion. We admire obsession in sports, entertainment and the arts. [And let’s not forget science and the obsessions of people like Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman.]
... The only place such obsession is regarded as hurtful or evil is business. Outside business it's regarded as "dedication."
... some participants in capitalism probably are motivated by "greed." But the acquisitiveness that motivates the rest of us is normal and healthy and something we should be thankful for.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Thanks for capitalism
To mark the approach of Thanksgiving weekend William Watson has penned an excellent column, "Giving thanks for capitalism":