Greed and wisdom

Adam Smith

Economic driving forces predominantly influence the social structures of modern society. Naturally, this has played a significant role in creating our present situation. Despite the fact that political forces attempt to maintain influence in this sector, most of us are aware that corporate interests control the global economy, or significant portions of it.

Today some of the single largest global economies are private, owned by MNCs (multinational corporations) rather than by nations. Their position as dominant institutions in society entail an enormous amount of responsibility for ”the greater good of all” on the part of their owners, board of directors and executive management. But how are they doing in this respect?

The systems that we rely on today in striving to build a wealthy and productive world tend to reward greed, short-term considerations and fear; this is mainly an outgrowth of the economic game rules we so freely accept. There is just no way that we can continue ”Business as Usual”, not if we’re hoping that future generations will be able to enjoy the fruits of enterprise. Let’s not forget the fact that we are the ones who determine what the future holds.

The old man Adam Smith, often presented as the architect behind modern capitalism, actually commented on this potentially upcoming challenge under the headline “The theory of Moral Sentiments” in his greatest publication “Wealth of Nations”. This was 1776 (!):

”This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.”

 It is time to understand what Adam Smith and many others understood a long, long time ago.

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  • commented 2013-08-20 18:09:19 +0200
    “The systems that we rely on today in striving to build a wealthy and productive world tend to reward greed, short-term considerations and fear; this is mainly an outgrowth of the economic game rules we so freely accept.” They say the best exceptions prove the best rules. Conversely, the best rules get proven by their exceptions.
  • commented 2013-05-13 10:38:02 +0200
    Greed only gets greedier. Does it.?

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