Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wall Street to the Contrary, Greed is Not Good

There's some interesting discussion of price-gauging over at Caelum et Terra. I don't know as much as I probably should about economics. It seems to me that things work better with a free (or mostly free) market, but I think it's crucial that we have decent people in the marketplace. The internal restraints that people trying to be decent put on themselves can check capitalism's excesses without having to resort to the nearly always doomed government controls on economic freedom.

I'm reminded of something I read by William F. Buckley:

Every ten years I quote the same adage from the late Austrian
analyst Willi Schlamm, and I hope that ten years from now someone will remember
to quote it in my memory. It goes, "The trouble with socialism is socialism. The
trouble with capitalism is capitalists."

Maybe that doesn't mean what I think it does, but I think it means that if we let our greed and self-interest dominate us we create the ugly side of an economic system that generally works pretty well. Capitalism works because it allows for human nature (our desire to seek our own self-interest, to take care of our own family, to have our own stuff, to keep the fruits of our labors) more than socialism does, but then the trouble with capitalism becomes fallen human nature (greed, selfishness, desire for power over others, choosing temporary goods over longterm goods, general sinfulness.)

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