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  • Money and Power, Continued

    Posted by David Foster on October 14th, 2009 (All posts by )

    There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money

    –Samuel Johnson

    I was reminded of this quote by something Irving Kristol wrote:

    In New York the ruling passion is the pursuit of money, whereas in Washington it is the pursuit of power. Now, the pursuit of power is a zerosum game: you acquire power only by taking it away from someone else. The pursuit of money, however, is not a zero-sum game, which is why it is a much more innocent human activity. It is possible to make a lot of money without inflicting economic injury on anyone. Making money may be more sordid than appropriating power—at least it has traditionally been thought to be so—but, as Adam Smith and others pointed out, it is also a far more civil activity.

    In a previous post, I quoted Benjamin Franklin:

    There are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects.

    The whole direction of the country, under the direction of Obama/Pelosi/Reid, is toward the uniting of ambitiona and avarice in precisely the manner feared by Franklin. When moneymaking is principally accomplished by grabbing hold of the power of the state and using it to club rivals over the heard, it is no longer innocent in the Johnsonian sense.

    Kristol link via Newmark’s Door.

    Dr Johnson quote from this site.

     

    4 Responses to “Money and Power, Continued”

    1. david foster Says:

      Also (via an article on Kristol by Mona Charen) the following, written by Kristol in 1972:
      ***
      ‘All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,’ wrote Oscar Wilde, and I would like to suggest that the same can be said for bad politics. . . . It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves. Indeed, the outstanding characteristic of what we call ‘the New Politics’ is precisely its insistence on the overwhelming importance of revealing, in the public realm, one’s intense feelings — we must ‘care,’ we must ‘be concerned,’ we must be ‘committed.’ Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.
      **
      Charen’s whole article is worthwhile reading.

    2. Seerov Says:

      Here’s the resource allocation competition continuum:

      Economics —-> Politics —-> War

      Allowing people to compete for resources via economic activity is the safest and most efficient way to allocate resources. War is the least safe and least efficient way to allocate resources.

      Whoa to the politician(s) who pushes up barriers to capitalism. For thou pushes us closer to war.

      Capitalism is humanity’s only hope for peace on earth.

    3. SgtDad Says:

      Uniting avarice and ambition is also the road to serfdom. Just a thought.

    4. Seerov Says:

      “Uniting avarice and ambition is also the road to serfdom. Just a thought.” (Sgt dad)

      Where? How come? Explain this?