Re: Greed

Peter C. McCluskey (
Sun, 8 Feb 1998 14:21:34 -0800 ("Mark D. Fulwiler") writes:
>Doug Bailey
>> wrote:
>> I find it extremely ironic that on a list that looks to the future (whe=
>re the
>> concepts of sharing information and resources is generally viewed as op=
>> that the spectre of individual greed rears its ugly head.

>As for greed, what's wrong with it? What's ugly about it? The idea that=20
>the only people who do any good for others are the altruistic Mother=20
>Theresa types is nonsense. If I provide you with a product or service at=20
>a good price and I do it solely to add to my bank account, what's the=20
>problem? I'd like my (unfortunately low) standard of living to increase=20
>and keep increasing. What's evil about that?

The word "greed", at least as it is used outside of Objectivist circles,
refers not just to a position on the selfish to selfless axis, but also
to an area on the negative-sum game to positive-sum game axis. Supporting
the welfare state is one alternative to greed, but there exist perfectly
selfish strategies that most people will classify as not at all greedy.
For example, the Linux software development model, or Eric Drexler's "get
rich slow" scheme (make everybody rich through nanotech, and since he's
somebody, he'll be rich).
I see nothing wrong with the sentiments expressed in the part of Mr.
Bailey's message that you quoted. However, his implication that taxation
promotes sharing is pretty questionable. Taxation is almost always a
negative-sum strategy, which tends to foster greedy attitudes among
the people it affects. In contrast, adopting new positive-sum sharing
strategies tends to foster further support for more sharing.

>in prison for victimless crimes.) As for Bill Gates, I believe does much=20
>more to help people by running a successful business than he does by=20
>giving away computers to schools, admirable as that may be.

That was probably true at some time, but now that the Linux model for
producing software has shown itself to be superior in many cases, I think
it is perfectly resasonable to critisize Microsoft for being more greedy
than is in it's customer's best interests.

Mark, what was the purpose of your libertarian rant? Do you think Mr. Bailey
was unaware of libertarianism? I find it improbable that his support for
taxation results from ignorance of the ideas that taxation is immoral or
that selfishness is good, yet your message seems to do nothing more than
repeat those ideas.
There's a reason why debating the basics on this list is discouraged: few
of us learn anything from it. This is especially true of messages that agree
with the prevailing ideology on the list.

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