Friday, October 10, 2008

Oh my

The John Templeton Foundation asked a bunch of cool people to answer the question of whether the free market erodes moral character. I was just getting started on the essays when this bit from John Gray crashed onto my retina
The traits of character most rewarded by free markets are entrepreneurial boldness, the willingness to speculate and gamble, and the ability to seize or create new opportunities. It is worth noting that these are not the traits most praised by conservative moralists. Prudence, thrift, and the ability to press on patiently in a familiar pattern of life may be admirable qualities, but they do not usually lead to success in the free market.
This is so ridiculous that it caused me to wonder about my own sanity. Willingness to speculate and gamble is rewarded in a free market but it is also punished. Are people spending years studying and deferring consumption to become lawyers, engineers and doctors not showing prudence and thrift? Or are they not successful in the free market?? Or perhaps success just means the very most successful, incredibly high living standards just doesn't cut it. What?

Say that everybody in the world earned the same amount of money. Half spend it all on lottery tickets while the other buy food and clothes etc. The richest people will be lottery players but it's stupid to conclude that lottery ticket buyers in this world are more successful.

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