Tag Archives: greed

Money Is Not The Root Of All Evil

“Money is the root of all evil.” How many times have you heard this phrase from someone?

There’s a number of reasons why people might feel this way, but none of the arguments amount to anything more than a logical fallacy. But let’s examine the different truths and psychological aspects of this sentiment.Burning Money

One reason for such a belief is from the idea of overt greed that is assumed to go with people who have money—one person, trying to collect it all, often at the expense of others. It’s a popular Hollywood storyline, but is it true?

It’s certainly consistent with dictators who take it all by force, but that’s usually one sociopath ruling over many victims. And I say they’re sociopaths, because they are often committing genocide, or at least routinely kill their ideological components.

But applying that sentiment to CEO’s and other rich people in a free country is usually just the product of jealousy and ignorance. Firstly, America’s richest make their money by providing a product the rest of us voluntarily buy—not compelled to buy, such as the services offered by a tyrant. But also, the rich have historically been quite charitable. And this makes perfect sense.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Humans have two qualities that are fairly consistent among all of us—competitiveness and empathy.  Sociopaths lack empathy, but as near as I can tell, there is no word for people who lack a competitive spirit, but I suppose they could be called competipaths for the sake of our discussion. It is believed sociopaths make up a mere 4% of the population, but who knows about competipaths? No such research exists.

But nonetheless, I highly doubt they’re in greater numbers. Competition fuels adrenaline and provides a rush, leading us to strive to earn more. If you have ever competed in a sports activity and were upset about losing, or mad that a coworker earned more than you, you have a competitive spirit. But even if you’re very competitive, at some point empathy causes us to want to help those when we can.

Many of us want to win, but we don’t necessarily want others to lose. Ever watch two fighters in the UFC’s octagon beat each other to a pulp, then hug each other when the match is over? Then you’ve witnessed what I’m referring to.

While we have an innate self-preservation instinct that keeps most of us from being too giving, some people don’t even seem to have that; exhausting themselves and their resources trying to solve other people’s problems.

Rich people are not a different species, they just have more drive, luck, intellect, or any combination of the three. Some are sociopaths and will never be charitable, but the rich are no more likely to be sociopaths than the poor—they’re just more successful.

But moving from the psychology aspect to the facts, the truth is that money is nothing more than an instrument of trade. If we go back to a time without money, when the barter system would have been the norm, imagine you built wooden widgets from an oak tree you’ve chopped down out of the oak forest in your back yard. Your neighbor, however, builds stone gadgets carved out of rocks from a mountainside on his property.

Now imagine you find that you have a need for a gadget, and because you have an oak forest, you have an abundance of widgets you’ve made. So you go to your neighbor and offer him one of your widgets for one of his gadgets. If he has a need for a widget, transaction complete—all is well.

Bartering
Bartering

But what if you break your gadget? So you ask your neighbor if he’ll swap again, but you’re neighbor’s widget is still fully functional, and he has no need for another. Now you’re screwed if you have nothing else to offer him, and this is essentially how money was born.

Because your neighbor has no need for another widget, your widget has no value for him, but money is a universally accepted instrument of trade that has universal value to everyone.

In truth, money only has value because we all agree to it, which is an interesting thought in its own right. Some want us to return to the gold standard, but the fact is that gold only has value because we agree to it too. If I were to somehow stumble upon a lode of 50,000 tons of gold, or gold somehow otherwise became undesirable, gold’s value would plummet tremendously.

The reality is that the only things that will always have value are air, food, and water, because we need them for life.

But back to the subject of money. Now that we understand it’s an instrument of trade, let’s get back to the greed aspect.

I know that many in the religious community take issue with evolution, but I think most people understand the concept well enough, and accept the basic principle that animals have evolved. It’s not like we don’t have an abundance of proof. There are new species of animal discovered often, and a significantly great number of extinct species as well. Not to mention, DNA indicates we’re all descendents of what scientists call LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor).

The basic concept behind evolution is the advancement of our species, which means every life form that has ever existed, has instilled within its DNA a need to advance itself. So people think that greed is a uniquely human trait, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a completely natural trait in all living things, some more complex than others.

Certain trees grow taller than those around them so they can “steal” the sunlight from shorter plant life. My cats hiss at each other when one tries to eat the other’s food. Studies found that Capuchin monkeys would get mad when they felt they weren’t given their fair share. (See video above) But as long as they were given enough food to survive, why be greedy?

Many people want to believe that this monkey experiment showed a desire for fair share, effectively arguing the monkeys are socialist. But this is actually quite wrong. Yes they wanted a fair share, but the monkeys don’t want other monkeys who didn’t do anything to get free treats, and they certainly aren’t interested in giving the treats away to welfare monkeys. They want paid for the work they did and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Those monkeys are capitalists.

So money isn’t the root of all evil, it’s an instrument of trade for people who are willing to produce and be a productive part of society. It’s the statists who exhibit traits we would sometimes call evil, they want money for what they didn’t do. If anything is unfair, it’s that.

 

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The Myth Of Greedy Capitalists

I have this horrible recurring dream that millions of college students die from alcohol poisoning after playing a drinking game during an Obama speech. When he uses the word “fair-share,” they are required to drink a shot. (Please kids, don’t try this at home)

It is a well-known psychological trick that overuse of a word is often done with the purpose of being permanently associated with it through subliminal suggestion. I don’t profess to know what is in Obama’s heart, and you should be wary of anyone in the media who says they do. But I don’t believe it is an accident that he uses this word over and over again so that he may mildly brainwash everyone to believe he is the only candidate who cares about you getting a fair shot. Political strategists certainly know and would advise him to use such a tactic. Disingenuous or not, it is effective.Obama-golfing[1]

However, let’s take a look at this from a skeptical point of view and analyze what it presumes. If he is saying this as a means of promoting himself above another candidate, then that means he is also saying other candidates do not want you to have a fair shot. If they all believe in fairness, then there’s no more point in bringing it up, right? For instance, no candidate campaigns on the platform of prosecuting murderers because we all want that, and saying so, would not set that candidate apart from their competitors.

So this then means that, in selling himself as the candidate of fairness, Obama is asserting that Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon who donated his father’s inheritance to the church so that it could be used to help those less fortunate and so that he could earn his own way instead, somehow only wants rich people to succeed and poor people to stay poor. Is this narrative starting to sound pretty ridiculous yet?

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Let’s dig a little deeper. How do rich people get rich? They sell products or services. The richest of the rich sell products to the masses. The late Enzo Ferrari likely made a pretty centesimo, but he was nowhere near the financial status of a Bill Gates for instance. If poor people stay poor, can they buy a Windows computer?

So if some conspiracy theorist is ignorant enough to believe that all rich people get together in some sort of bourgeois yacht club meeting and collude to keep the proletariat down, then explain to me how they benefit by impoverishing their intended customers.

The idea that rich people benefit from everyone else being poor only works in a socialist model where the rich can forcefully take from the poor, and force them into servitude, not a capitalist one where the rich depend on the masses to buy their goods.

I am to wealth what a McDonald’s Hamburger is to a steak. But I am increasingly disgusted with the idea that the boogeyman is synonymous with a capitalist. Because, while I may not be rich, I have goals and dreams that include becoming wealthy one day, and I’m not about to be told I’m a bad person for wanting it or that I’ll be a bad person if I attain it.

I believe everyone is a greedy capitalist. Some aren’t willing to work as hard as others, some aren’t willing to work as honestly as others, and some refuse to believe that people richer than them deserve more for their efforts. Apathy, jealousy, complacency, and sometimes just dumb luck prevent most of us from achieving our dreams. But we all want more than what we have, we all want success. Then, once we’ve achieved it, we all want control how it is shared with others.

So while I credit Obama with a smart tactic, and let’s not lie to ourselves, it is working with those who don’t bother to put a critical eye to it as I have done, it is still just a psychological trick, not an indication of someone who understands how to make America better through hard work, critical thinking, and an honest assessment of the historical evidence of socialism versus capitalism.

We know socialism has no successful models to point to, yet he promotes socialistic policies. We know that over-regulation causes business owners to pull their money into their proverbial turtle shell until the “predator” passes by instead of investing, hiring, and growing the economy, yet he pushes the EPA and OSHA farther and farther into territory they were never intended to occupy at the peril of every entrepreneur trying to become a productive part of America. We know that forcing people to be self-sufficient by kicking them out of the nest works, yet by advocating more entitlements instead of less, he continues to enable those who would rather be on a permanent government funded vacation.EPA-Logo

Ronald Reagan humorously quipped, “The best minds aren’t in government. If any were, business would hire them away.”

President Obama telling Romney how to help businesses grow, and vicariously our economy, seems to me like Obama telling Tiger Woods how to fix his golf swing. So you can vote for the guy that says he’ll solve all your problems for you, but I’ll vote for the guy who honestly says, “I don’t understand your problems as well as you do, so let me get the hell out of your way.”