RE: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri Jul 20 2001 - 17:14:13 MDT

Miriam writes

> The main problem remaining is social justice: how to ensure that a child
> born to parents who didn't want and couldn't afford children would not be
> condemned to second-class citizenry for their parents' mistake, or that a
> genius with a genetic disease would not be cast out of the medical system
> as uninsurable. This wastes very important resources.

There is still this tension between what is good in the short
run and what is good in the long run. We might approve of a
dictator that prevented (somehow) all such waste, but we'd fear
that in the long run his rule---in ways that could not be
accurately forseen---would be even more wasteful.

Our traditions that encourage the maximum of self-reliance in
people have proven their worth in the long run. But it is very
tempting to stop thinking about the long run and deal with the
here and now. Which of us has not rewarded, with an act of
charity, some kind of mistaken behavior on someone's part?

Many people on this list are under the influence of some powerful
memes that have proven their value over hundreds, if not thousands
of years: never steal; never encourage indolence or lack of
success; always mind your own business; never lie. Societies
that follow these maxims prosper, and those which do not---or
at least don't follow them to the same extent---as a number of
third-world countries, do not prosper.

We all have sympathy for the downtrodden. But some of us are
more likely to give into temptation, in defiance of the memes
that I was talking about, and reward irresponsibility or lack
of foresight, more than others of us.

I would approve of people seeking a middle-ground: we have to
publicly retain the traditions that created success and wealth
in the first place, but also exercise charity in those local
situations about which we are very knowledgable, and judge
that it can do some good.


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