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May 12, 2008


Stephen Downes

Graham, I really hope that such simplistic and ill-considered nonsense is not what informs your thinking.

The author paints a series of flat absolutes statements that are, at the very least, unclear, and at worse, outright false.

The proposition that we should govern ourselves as "greedy, self-serving humans who only think about themselves" is empirically false and pragmatically destructive.

It is also morally offensive, but I need not even consider that aspect.

Most people - indeed, everyone except a small number of very self-centered people - do not thrive by looking out for their own interests, but rather, by looking out for the interests of others.

These others may include loved ones or families, but may also include nations, gods, or ideals.

This turns out to be pragmatically necessary.

In a world where people only served their own self-interest, no interest could be served that extended beyond the life-span or physical range of the person involved.

This results in behaviours that are destructive to those outside one's immediate physical environment. Thus, for example, we get societies that eliminate all the natural resources, or send sewage down the river where it is no longer seen.

A successful society means that we need to think beyond merely serving out own needs by serving the custo This, indeed, is the sort of behaviour that precipitates such thingmer. We need to be motivated by things other than greed. Because greed, unrestrained, eats everything in its path, and eventually destroys society.

The narrow doctrine of capitalism you link to ignores any concept of social order, rolling all such thought into a unidimensional and caricature portrait of 'evil government'.

Such posturing is harmful and dangerous. It is an attempt to legitimize a behaviour that is essentially predatory.

A Citizen, San Francisco, CA

Dear Graham,

May I recommend the Wikipedia entry titled 'Critique of Capitalism.' It seems to corroborate and lend support to Stephen's reservations and concerns regarding the destructive, plundering, pillaging, exploitative, robber-baron aspects of capitalism.


Graham Glass

Hi Stephen,

I'm pretty sure that the article was written tongue-in-cheek.

I certainly don't think or advocate that people don't care for others and I doubt the author does either.

I do, however, agree with the main point of the article which compares outcomes when services are provided by the private sector versus the government sector.


Graham Glass

Hi "Citizen of San Francisco",

Thanks for the link. I read the article and it was interesting.

However, nothing in the article persuaded me that Capitalism is not a very good thing.

For the record, I do not believe in "unbridled" capitalism where businesses can pollute the environment, pillage the land, etc. without penalty. Neither do most capitalists. I believe that the Government should enforce laws that protect the environment, punish those that violate the law, and use those fines to repair the environment when it is damaged.


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