Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pure and simple greed

Matt is exactly right,
But it’s a sign, I think, of a kind of sickness running through American society that we’ve lost the willingness to just say clearly that ceteris paribus greedy behavior is not virtuous behavior. In the spirit of decency, of course, we recognize that none of us are without sin. It would be crazy to try to condemn everyone who’s ever done anything greedy to the gallows. But the fact still remains that greedy behavior is not admirable behavior and that, as Krugman says, it’s very unlikely that the “best” young people were going into finance. And to say that they’re not necessarily good people need not entail that they’re criminals. Simply the fact that the best people are people who aren’t primarily driven by greed.

I don’t think Barack Obama should orient his policy agenda around that kind of moralizing. But it’s not an observation we should consider shocking to make in civil society.
I really struggle to understand people who are indignant at the suggestion that they should not make many millions of dollars in compensation from a business they literally drove into bankruptcy.

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