You can tell when the economy hits a bump in the road. All the politicians start blaming greed as if they just woke up and realized that Wall Street is little more than a feral pack of money grubbers. They’re like Captain Renault in Casablanca who tells Rick he’s “shocked” to discover gambling on the premises.
Greed makes a convenient whipping boy. The only problem is that it’s the wrong whipping boy. The problems run a little deeper than that.
The role of greed as the driving force of our economy is built upon a flawed model of the “Economic Man,” that creature driven by a rational self interest guided by a mystical “invisible hand” that keeps the market in balance.
Rational self interest is a sham. It’s disproved every time someone plunks down $150 for a pair of sneakers that cost three dollars to manufacture. Were rational self interest life’s sole driving force, there would be no wars because war, in the end, is an exercise in economic self destruction, as we are finding out after sixty years of keeping our economy on a war footing.
Silly me—here I am using a complex idea like “invisible hand” while you are standing there scratching. Let me give you a concrete illustration of just what the invisible hand of the market looks like.
Place you elbow on a table with your forearm perpendicular to the surface of the table. Now, make a fist. Finally, extend your middle finger heavenward, and there you have the invisible hand of the market.
But, I digress…
No, George, it’s not greed that’s gotten us into this mess, it’s a condition I call Socially Acceptable Sociopathy (SAS). Normally, society shuns sociopaths as being a threat to stability and order. There are, however, two areas in which sociopaths are not only accepted, but are rewarded--business and politics, where sociopaths find themselves on a fast track to success. Those who succeed are those sociopaths who are able to behave in a socially acceptable manner. (In business and politics, socially acceptable behavior is anything short of murder-- the bombing of wedding parties being the sole exception.)
The money means nothing to them; it’s the thrill of creative destruction that drives them. Oh sure, they build their massive McMansions and are chauffeured about in their oversized vehicles, but these are little more than symbols of their underlying mental instability. Were they to inherit their fortune, their lives would be empty and meaningless.
It’s all about control. Given a choice between money and control, they would opt for control every time.
Speaking of our economy, I am glad to see that as debt wraps its hands even tighter around the American throat there is already grumbling about Medicare being too much of a burden on the economy. You would do well to keep the attention there and away from our trillion-dollar-a-year defense budget.
We refuse to sacrifice Joe Lieberman’s 2.5 billion submarine just so poor children can have access to health care. Too many people in the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Corporate Complex are making too much money to allow an economic meltdown to threaten it.
When the shit hits the fan, the spray falls on the base of the pyramid, not on its apex.