In my family of origin, father did not consider it irrational–or unethical—to…act out…politically, contrary to long-term self-interest. Buss did so, repeatedly. It had profound consequences for his wife and kids, however.
Adam Smith, capitalism’s founder, was a moral philosopher, actually. He asked and answered questions about what constitutes moral behavior; both for individuals and for society.
Surely, Smith would have saluted an ancient Chinese parable that goes like this. The good society, it admonishes, is one in which old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit. Smith, I think, would have encouraged Buss—indeed all of us—to pursue some shared sacrifice for the good of the whole.
Consider the narrative. At times, the parable admonishes, it becomes necessary to curtail one’s self-interest, to enable those who will come after us. Our children and our children’s children. Stewardship, if you will.
How often do you see people coming forward now, advocating shared sacrifice? Calling upon others for belt-tightening, today, so coming generations may live more abundantly, tomorrow?
Uncommon rhetoric, now, for sure. Why is that?
In contemporary America, the unbending pursuit of self-interest seems to be snuffing out willingness to accept healthy responsibility for others, especially for others who may be unlike us.
Donald Trump, developer and financier, operates from high-octane business strategies hell-bent on this: screw everyone who isn’t smart—or cunning enough—to get there ahead of him.
Given the chance, Buss would have been an Ayn Rand-style financier. He would have acted—then—as Donald Trump acts now. His mantra, I think, would have been: take the money and run. He might have liquidated forests, so to speak, and never looked back—introspectively—to consider unintended consequences.
Many voted for Donald Trump to even up the playing field as they understand it. Buss would have voted for Trump, also, in retribution against others—in his eyes—who cost him the American Dream. Now, as then, of course, his actions may have unintended, long-term consequences.
From Boulder, Colorado, this is Jim Sawyer for capitalism in crisis dot org.Follow Capitalism In Crisis