In our flawed, evil, competitive world, it's ironic that greed can create more good than can "kindness".

If pursuing profit is greed, economist Walter Williams told me, then greed is good, because it drives us to do many good things. "Those areas where people are motivated the most by greed are the areas that we're the most satisfied with: supermarkets, computers, FedEx." By contrast, areas "where people say we're motivated by 'caring'" -- public education, public housing etc. -- "are the areas of disaster in our country. . . . How much would get done," Williams wondered, "if it all depended on human love and kindness?"

Greed gets people to cooperate. If you want to benefit from other greedy people, you have to make sure they benefit from you.

In this context it's important to note that "greed" does not imply a willingness to cheat or break the rules, simply a desire to maximize your own benefit by trading with others who are each also want to do the best they can for themselves.

No one person made my dinner possible. It took thousands of people to get me the food. And none of them did it for me. As economist Adam Smith put it, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

It's a strange system that's far less than ideal, but it's apparently the best system possible considering our innate human failings.

(Earlier Greed Is Good post).



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