"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Friday, April 20, 2012

G Is For.......Greed

Gordon Gekko rocking his "mobile phone"
I first saw the movie Wall Street on video as an impressionable young college student. I loved it. I reveled in Gordon Gekko. I was a bit upset that by the end it became pretty obvious to me that he was supposed to be the villain. Gordon Gekko was so cool! We are supposed to be rooting for that wimpy-ass Charlie Sheen character over him? Please. As I've gotten older and wiser, it's become clear to me that most movies with a "message" are written by liberals for liberals, and Wall Street was a message movie. When Gordon Gekko uttered the line that made me love him, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good," liberals all over America dove behind the couch in abject terror like I did when the girl's head turned all the way around in The Exorcist. I wasn't a liberal even then, so it made me love the guy. I missed "the message," that self-interest is bad and capitalism is driven by self-interest and so it also is bad. Gordon Gekko made sense to me. Here's the whole quote from that little speech. Warning to liberals, hold someone's hand before reading this, it's gonna be scary.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.

You know, I just love that. Even today, 25 years later and after Enron and the tech bubble and the housing market collapse the too-big-to-fail bail-outs, I still love it. I don't see greed, or using the better word Gordon was lacking, self-interest, as the cause of any of these problems. They were caused by dishonesty, stupidity and too much government interference in the free market. You can be greedy and honest. You can be self-interested and generous. Wanting to achieve all you can, however you define happiness and success, doesn't preclude you from being a good person or doing good things. I would argue that it helps. The rich man can be generous with his own money, the poor slob who majored in Philosophy and as a result works pouring other people's coffee satisfies himself with being "generous" with other people's money. Voting to force your neighbors to fund high speed rail and wind farms when you won't or can't invest your own money in such things doesn't make you a "good person," it makes you a prick. Gordon Gekko was better than that.

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