These days have me questioning our current predicaments: Why did we get to where we are at today? Two answers, two sides of the same coin: Greed and need.
Consider also Austan Goolsbee’s observation:
After a certain point, people generally don’t try to make more money so they can buy more things with the money. They make more so they can have more — keep more — to lord it over people. It is basically an explanation for the economic consumption function. This happens in two ways:
- Symbolically: apparent social status (expensive cars, nice clothes, perceived importance), networks (access to other forms of power) and
- Financially: Loans and interest, also known as usury. Leverage human resources and capital for their needs or another’s needs (social debt).
That is to say, wealth itself is an effective tool — a means — to power and influence in our society. Why would someone want so much power and influence?
- Perpetual insecurity — some people never feel OK no matter how much they have, and always need to have more “just in case.”
- Inflated self-importance: Some people want to be king, and believe it is in everyone’s best interest for them to have more influence over matters. Please note that ego and insecurity are themselves often two sides of the same coin.
So, what is the remedy? What is the alternative? It’s a society with less greed and need than ours currently has. Which means fewer extremely wealthy people, fewer extremely poor people, and a much larger middle class. We also need to achieve this internationally, so that there are no extremely poor and extremely wealthy nations.