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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

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… from page 117 of David Mamet’s 2011 book, The Secret Knowledge [2]:

The Left’s current sentiment for the confiscation of benefits legally earned, but to them offensive, is Greed.

DBx: Unlike some economists and advocates of free markets, I do indeed believe that greed, as such, is bad; greed is not good. What is not bad – what is natural and unavoidable – is human self-interest. But self-interest isn’t greed. Self-interest is the sentiment highlighted by Adam Smith in An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [3] as motivating butchers, brewers, and bakers – and, we might add, also book sellers, baseball players, bond traders, and everyone else earning a living in private markets – to improve their own lots in life by helping countless fellow human beings improve theirs.

In contrast to self-interest, greed is an anti-social sentiment. For you to be greedy is for you to demand more than you deserve – a demand that can be satisfied only by leaving other people with less than they deserve. We all, quite rightly, disapprove of greed and of greedy people.

How ironic, then, is the popular notion that business people who relentlessly work hard to satisfy consumers in order to earn more wealth – and who protest attempts to seize some of their wealth – are “greedy” (and, hence, deserving of our disapproval) while politicians, pundits, preachers, and professors who clamor to seize some of this wealth in order to give it to people who didn’t earn it are selfless public servants (and, hence, deserving of our admiration)?

For the likes of demagogues such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to call for the seizure of some of the wealth of very successful business people is loathsome, as are similar calls by academics such as Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. But to then regard these and others who advocate the seizure and ‘redistribution’ of wealth as selfless public servants who fight greed is downright Orwellian.