The Poor Masses

David Musick (
Sat, 28 Sep 96 19:00:48 UT

Suresh Naidu writes:

"I hate and fear government as much as anyone, but I also fear corporate
tyranny, and as long as private interests are this selfish and greedy, I will
pay my taxes to help out my fellow man."

"I think a rwandan farmer should have the same opportunity to become a nanogod
as the CEO of some big company. I realize I`ve probably contradicted many
extropian political opinions, but I do embrace the hope for technological
advancement helping out all of humanity instead of just the rich."

First off, I also am very interested in the well-being of all humans, and also
hope that all humans benefit from technological advancement. However, I don't
see the selfish and greedy interests of private business as conflicting in any
way with the general welfare of humanity. In fact, I see the selfishness and
greed of the business world as the driving force of technological progress,
the provider of nearly all the wealth that we enjoy, and I think that selfish
and greedy business people are the most likely people to actually help the
poor, even though other people have much more compassion for the poor in

First of all, a business cannot make money except by selling what people want
to buy. So, a selfish, greedy business person, who only cares about making
lots of money is driven to provide the best products and most appealing
services in order to make lots of money. They are in the business of
satisfying people's desires, and the ones who do it the best make the most
money. But there is a great deal of competition in business, and the
businesses which are more efficient than other businesses can sell products at
lower cost than their competition while receiving the same amount of profit.
Thus, they will usually tend to make more money than their competition. Also,
those which are more efficient can provide higher quality products at the same
price as their competition and thus outsell them.

Greedy, selfish business people are constantly driven to outdo each other in
providing higher quality, less expensive products and services. Thus, their
greed and selfishness itself drives them to help people more than their
competition, to be better at providing people with what they desire (and
fulfilling people's desires is the best definition of "helping people" that I
know of).

But to provide better products and services at lower prices requires making
progress in technology, improving manufacturing methods and so forth, and this
is the basic driving force behind nearly all technological progress. Their
greed drives them to develop better technologies. Nearly all the wealth we
enjoy comes from our technology. Even the money you are willing to pay in
taxes to help the poor exists because of the efforts of many greedy, selfish
business people. Without all the greedy, selfish business people, we would
all be very poor indeed. If people weren't so greedy, they wouldn't compete
so fiercely and refine the quality of their products so quickly and
competently. In fact, I wish people were *greedier* and *more* selfish, in
general. If they were, they wouldn't tolerate the government taking away over
half their income, we would all be making way more money, businesses wouldn't
have to pay so much in taxes and could afford to lower their prices
considerably (they would be driven to lower them, through competitive greed).

As far as greedy, selfish business people being the ones who will bring
prosperity to the poor of the world goes, remember that businesses always seek
to increase their number of customers. When the market gets too difficult to
enter in rich countries, like the United States, then poorer countries will
look more appealing to the greedy business people. At first, they will use
the poor people for cheap labor. And, at this point, the bleeding-hearts in
America start crying, "Exploitation!" But we must remember that the poor
people wouldn't work for these businesses unless they were being paid more
than they were before. They're still in a bad position, yes, but less so than
before, because they're making more money than before, and they're gaining
skills. Then, other businesses will want to sell their products to these poor
people, who can now afford a little more, and now that they have more skills,
other greedy business people will want to come in and offer them jobs which
pay a little more than they are getting from their other jobs, so that they
can attract the best workers. So, slowly, slowly, through the efforts of
greedy, selfish business people, the poor are raised from their poverty and
taught how to work and how to maintain a prosperous community. Remember the
early days of the Industrial Revolution? Remember all the poor people working
in the factories and all the cries of exploitation? Well, look at the world
today. We are much richer now than ever. And it is because of all the
greedy, selfish people that exploit us whenever they can, as mush as they can.
But to exploit us, they must provide us with something we want, and then
their competitors will try to outdo them and offer us something even better,
and it goes back and forth and all around until eventually everyone is very
wealthy. But we must give it time to run its course. The poor won't become
wealthy overnight, but they are becoming wealthier than they ever were before.
We are making progress, and most of our progress comes directly from the work
of greedy, selfish business people.

If the governments would just get out of the way and let the greedy, selfish
people do their good work, the prosperity would be spread around much faster.
Coercive, meddling governments are slowing down progress and the advancement
of prosperity considerably, and they are the biggest enemies of poor people

A lot of the reason people are against greedy, selfish people is because they
imagine that there is only a limited amount of wealth to go around, so if the
greedy people take more, there is less left for everyone else. Considering
that nearly all the wealth we enjoy now was not around a few million years
ago, or even a few hundered years ago, this view is patently absurd. Wealth
is constantly being created, and most of it is being created by greedy,
selfish people, and that creation of wealth benefits us all.

Another point to make is that while greed and selfishness are extremely good
qualities for a business person to have, they are extremely dangerous
qualities for anyone involved in the government to have. This is because
business people _make_ money through voluntary transaction (if they don't do
it voluntarily, I don't consider them business people, I consider them
thieves), while the government _gets_ its money by forcefully taking it from
people. Thus, greedy politicians will cause even more money to be taken from
people and cause tyranny to grow while greedy business people will create more
wealth and cause prosperity and abundance to spread to everyone.

- David Musick