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September 17, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

We benefit when others succeed

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In response to the column by Lewis Diuguid, “Wealth and a silent addiction for more,” I find the writer to be woefully misinformed about how a private economy works.

Everything we purchase and the services we consume are generated because of someone’s desire for wealth. It is not through some sense of altruism that the baker gets up early to bake the bread that we eat. It is from a desire to enrich himself and, yes, a desire for wealth.

Why do we have iPhones and better technology? Is that because Apple has some sort of altruistic nature? No; it is a desire for wealth. As a byproduct of that desire for wealth, we get better products, better services (iTunes) and tens of thousands of jobs.

I am thankful that Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs had a desire for wealth. Without that desire, if they would have stopped when they were assured of making $200,000 per year, the world would be worse off because their gifts of organization and creativity would not have been exploited to be enjoyed by the rest of society. Nor would the jobs have been created that are the byproduct of their desire for wealth.

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  1. Agreed! These folks had something mora too--a vision and passion for creating change in the way we all live and work. America possesses the free markets, legal system, incentives and other intangible institutional framework to permit people to creeate these innovations and market their products and services. In order to continue to promote these innovations these freedoms, incentives and institutions must be friendly to wealth creation.

  2. If the business is a private worker coop, they share the wealth, creativity and innovation, as well as have a shared risk and interest in the success of the business. It can be a different way of thinking about business.

    They can choose to contribute in a just way to the economy, while having a sufficient income to meet their needs and wants. They can choose to be an asset to the community in many ways, in accord with their shared values, democratic process of one worker, one vote. It is more horizontal than vertical.

    So not all business is like the standard models we are accustomed too, with a few getting filthy rich and the others working as servants of the owner(s).

    While private worker coops are not large segment of business, they are gaining more attention by some people who are fed up with the business model of large wage to profit disparities.

    The challenges may be initially more difficult, but for those who persist, the rewards of security and personal value is well worth the effort.

    It is times like this the seeds are planted of a different way to participate in the economy.

  3. The writer oversimpifies human motivation and boils it down to a quest for wealth as the simplistic and solitary motivation of all of us. He ignores many instances where the innovation or invention or benefiting society is the main motivator and money is sometimes, but not always, only a byproduct of that activity. He specifically mentions Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as role models. Buffett has lived in the same middle class neighborhood in Omaha for decades. He and Gates have both committed most of their wealth to charitable purposes.

    Our motivations are as complex and different as we are as people.

  4. I'll agree with Houstonjack and Future, but add this caveat:

    When people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and many others build enterprises that become gigantic...and gigantic is never gigantic enough and wealthy is never wealthy enough, a point is often reached where too much effort is directed at protecting their enterprise by barring others from the market and using unfair means to prevent others from succeeding in what they now 'consider' their space.

    I look around and see all the wonderful things free enterprise and a market economy provide and wonder why so many Americans are losing faith in our economic system. What I just said in the previous paragraph IS part of the reason.

    Michael

  5. President Obama impugns success and wealth with statements of misfacts [Roanoke Virginia, July 13, 2012]. Instead, he praises a government whose role is to add more people to its assistance roles to live and exist. President Obama, by Executive Order, revoked the welfare to work requirements [based on a law passed with bipartisan support in 1996]. His reasoning is self-evident. In his second term, if he is lucky enough to secure one, those on government assistance would be denied when they can't find jobs. He doesn't want them complaining.

    CarmineD

  6. Mr. Morris,

    Kudos for stating the simple truth!! Adam Smith and Milton Friedman are smiling at you from up above.

    Warm regards,
    Purgatory

  7. Mr. Tanner,

    Its been widely reported that Jobs did not desire wealth. I just used Apple and Mircrosoft as examples of large enterprises. If you understand my point, why not comment on that rather than assume I was attacking Mr. Jobs or Mr. Gates?

    Michael

  8. The problem with the market economy is the increasing level of disdain due to the lack of understanding how capitalism and the profit motive benefit society as a whole. Although while Marx himself admitted his economic system was a failure, his propaganda has survived for over a century. The success of the Progressive movement has been to instill the anti-capitalist mentality through mass-media and the public education system so the "intellectuals" and the "elites" could have control and implement this "planned economy". Our government adopted an economic doctrine that believes the market economy is inherently unstable and unjust, and therefore requires intervention and redistribution through taxation and regulation. Although this economic doctrine has been thoroughly exploded for decades, still it persists because it gives legitimacy to the ever-expanding federal leviathan that continues to choke the life out of this country.

    The system is manipulated through political opportunism as government and our elected officials have allowed the will of the few to affect the freedom and sovereignty of an entire nation.

    Monetary policy and government intervention ALONE, have brought our free market economy to the edge of this abyss, and the two-party shell game has kept us divided and ignorant to the economic reality that's about to bite us in the arse.

    Now, we are expecting QE3, and they're telling us how it is going to help the economy. But it won't work. It doesn't work. It has never worked.
    It's just another nail in the coffin of the American economy being lowered into the $200-trillion abyss.

    Oh, well. Look, you're all entitled to your opinions which you sanctimoniously present here as "fact". That's cool. I just hope when the time comes you're all smart enough for a little critical introspection.

  9. Pat,

    That's an excellent synopsis. I am just waiting.... as both the R's and D's spin their fairy tales about how we can tax cut our way or spend our way out of the abyss. At the same time we argue over many things that don't matter, more and more Americans are being convinced that Capitalism is nothing more than a failed economic system. We may have already reached the point where a majority believe that. Either way, a correction will come. It will either be reluctantly agreed to by us for forced upon us by circumstance.

    Michael

  10. Vegas_Pat -

    Excuse me, but didn't you just "offer your opinions which you sanctimoniously present here as "fact" "? That's cool.

  11. The letter writer is another example of someone living in phantasmagoria. In theory he is correct. The problem is so few are able to succeed that it's just this side of impossible. If you exclude generational wealth transfers only a few million in the entire country are able to make it. If your a doctor, lawyer, contractor, professional athlete or entertainer the American dream is within your grasp. If you're not your chances of ever having two dimes to rub together are pretty slim.

    The affluent can take care of themselves. The problem is what to do about the other 300 million people.

  12. After a couple hundred years of American-style capitalism nearly 70% of the people in the country can't come up with $1000. That statistic alone is a major condemnation of our entire economic system.

  13. Buffett, Gates and Jobs do not represent America. There are billionaires popping up all over the world. They represent what a person can accomplish by getting a good education, having a great business model and being just plain good at making fantastic amounts of money. There are a handful of these folks all over the world. But keep in mind there are over 6 billion people in the world. The vast majority of which will never be multibillionaire's.

    The vast majority of the people in this country and in the rest of the world are relatively poor. It was that way a couple hundred years ago and it will be that way a couple hundred years from now. Becoming a super achiever is not in the vocabulary of most.

  14. "That statistic alone is a major condemnation of our entire economic system." - zippert1

    I am going to take issue with that. It is not so much a condemnation of our economic system as it is of our education system and the apparent lack of value a large segment of the population puts on having more than just the raw basics.

    If our schools would place far more emphasis on critical thinking then I believe we would have an electorate that would stop voting people into office who's primary intent appears to serve the interests of a very select few. Don't get me wrong, I do NOT want our schools to emphasize one system over another, but rather to teach our children to think logically!

  15. The zipperts of this world simply are loath to admit some people are more intelligent, resourceful, talented and adept than others. The "cream rises to the top" is not just a some silly adage; it's the truth. All folks are born equal, perhaps, but that's where the similarity ends. Churchill put it this way, "Capitalism is the worst system ever devised by mankind except for all the others." Regardless of poohba's such as zippert, you, as an American, can go as far as your talents and drive will take you. However, you can be just like Osama Obama - when you fail, blame it on someone else. Taking responsibility is not one of Osama Obama's strong suits. That, too, is human nature.

  16. There are 412 billionaires in the US. You need more cream than that in a country of 312 million for the system to thrive.

  17. Jerry.. I look at the economic data when it's released and then report what I see. Americans have saved almost nothing for retirement, very little for their children's educations and very little for unanticipated medical expenses. Basically the domestic savings rate over the last few decades has been lousy. Its savings and investment that lead to wealth creation. Very little of that is occurring in America. I may be a "Pooh Bah" but that's the reality of life in America.

  18. "Private worker coops" are acceptable for food banks but don't EVER start the marketing for a NEW invention. Do you have 20 friends and neighbors that can each throw in say $50K so I can run with my idea? I don't think so. Groups are NOT innovative. A rare individual is innovative. Groups latch onto a proven idea or method.

    We benefit when others succeed and hire, expand, invest, manufacture, market. We benefit when we are not FORCED to pay for slackers. We benefit when good workers are rewarded while non-so-good workers are fired. We benefit when they are kicked off programs and forced into the work force. We benefit when those kicked off but don't perform are fired and NOT covered by a safety net--but they have to support themselves if they want to eat.

  19. Jeffrey B. Morris would have been more informed about Steve Jobs if he had bothered to read the biography on him. My wife just finished this book and verified that wealth was NOT the driver for what Mr. Jobs did.

  20. Thank you, Mr. Morris. Refreshing letter.

  21. Zippert: "Americans are saving little?" And, who's fault is that? American's smoke, drink and gamble an awful lot. If they were truly concerned about the future, they would "curb their enthusiasm" for those "pleasures" and put some of that money aside. They must take responsibilty for their own welfare; not by burdening some sucker born years after them with their lack of self-control, self-reliance and their shameless self-indulgence. Social Security was meant as a "safety" net, a "floor" to be built on; not a path to wealth. What we are doing to our descendants is a disgrace and we ought to be ashamed, instead of making excuses. It's long past time to tighten the belts of those creepolas in Washington D.C. who increase tomorrows taxes to buy votes today.