Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Sean McElwee discusses the crucial distinction between wealth and merit - while recognizing which actually serves to improve the condition of those around a particular individual:
Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes,
Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)
Here we see the Randian vision in all its idiotic glory. If you could make a profit by pressing puppies into coffee, you deserve more moral praise than someone who dedicates their life to the poor. As E.F. Schumacher observed about capitalism, “Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be ‘uneconomic’ [unprofitable] you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper.” To justify their wealth, the titans of industry must make themselves the center of economic progress and society, but the dirty little secret is that they aren’t; they’re just along for the ride. As Richard Hofstadter observed about American capitalism, “Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men.”
It seems almost axiomatic that no good person has ever done something great merely for a profit. They seek something more important than material possession. So why should we fear if the wealthiest left us? I would fear for the world if the empathetic, the intelligent, the compassionate, the fearless and the creative left us. We don’t celebrate these virtues unless they somehow lead to monetary gain, but often they don’t. Norman Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” that by some estimates saved 1 billion people from starvation and who was hailed as “… a towering scientist whose work rivals that of the 20th century’s other great scientific benefactors of humankind,” didn’t work for money; he worked to help people. A Dallas Observer story about him noted that he,  “rarely indulged in the comforts of the industrialized West for any extended period of time. His choice has been to immerse himself in locales where people stare death in the face every day.” When a reporter saw Mother Teresa helping a disfigured leper, he said to her, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Mother Theresa said, “Neither would I.”
- Meanwhile, Konrad Yakabuski convenes a panel discussion on inequality in Canada. And Justin Ling comments on the differing views of inequality and plutocracy at play in Toronto Centre.

- Tim Harper discusses how the Cons' tough-on-crime standards don't apply to Rob Ford (or anybody else within their political tent). Ivor Tossell recognizes that Ford has always preferred celebrity status to political responsibility - and that his consistent abuses of public office only feed into the former even as they make him unfit for the latter. And Tom Mulcair rightly points out that the Cons' constant support for Ford means that they own his reckless behaviour.

- Finally, Margaret Munro reports that the Cons' philosophy of not letting bad news get out has led them to suppress information about antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Canadian hospitals - making it far more difficult for health care providers to actually limit the damage from superbugs.

1 comment:

  1. Happy you included us in your post. Have you considered including us in your list of National News and Information?