The world as people write about it

As I’m slowly recovering from a very serious case of self-inflicted caffeine overdose, I’d better not try to write anything too great myself right now. Instead I’ll just point out two of the best articles I’ve read recently: The New Invisible Competitors by Tyler Cowen on the Wilson Quarterly site and this piece by Takuan Seiyo on the New English Review which resonates quite well with my own thinking on what’s wrong with people these days.

I’d say Cowen’s article is quite spot on when it comes to pointing out what kind of people and opportunities new technologies like web-collaboration tools benefit and provide. Of course Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat is pretty good reading on the same topic too. The second article by Seiyo is a lot gloomier. In this age of affluence the wealthy aren’t exactly doing what would seem to be prudent in the long run to say it as meekly as possible:

As if a hugely inflated money supply were not enough, finance people with lots of smarts and no wisdom have commoditized and leveraged debt via $415 trillion in derivatives, which is 789% of global GDP and tethered to unpayable mortgages for real estate dropping in value. When “investment” funds bear names like Bear Stearns’ High Grade Structured Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund, it’s time to notice that we live in a house of cards.

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That the mass market tends to cater to the lowest tastes and impulses is not the fault of capitalism. It’s modern liberal democracy, with its emphasis on egalitarianism and “nonjudgmentalism,” that leaves it to the marketplace to define all norms and values. And these are shaped by man’s eternal psychic diseases of greed, envy, lust, and sloth, and by those modern afflictions that Solzhenitsyn has noted: hastiness and superficiality.

Although I think capitalism is definitely the most ethical system I can think of, I do definitely think those-other-crazy-consumers should in general think a little harder how to spend what they have earned and cease their evil ways if they are parasites who spend other people’s money and vote for leftists. As I’ve probably written previously, I do think natural selection would be fixing the problem quite well if redistribution wouldn’t be happening on a massive scale, but today’s world is sadly too much like the world in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: ‘destroyers’ everywhere, good people nowhere to be seen.

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