Friday, 12 June 2015

A Brief Conversation About Extremes

A brief conversation I had recently that highlights a common error of judgement seen in many of our politicians:

ANTI-CAPITALIST BLOKE: The most efficiently greedy people are, of course, psychopaths - so would you say James Knight that psychopaths are the best people to run businesses and countries?

ME: Of course not. Here's an equally silly question: Precipitation is a vital provision source for our agriculture. Do you think farmers prefer steady precipitation rates or rainstorms that flood their land?

ANTI-CAPITALIST BLOKE: But if we accept the premise that "greed is good" then it follows that the most greedy (psychopaths) would be the best people to run businesses, and by extension, countries.

ME: I'm afraid not - your premise is flawed to begin with. Just because something is good, doesn't mean we can't have too much of it. What you're missing is that things can be good *because* there isn't too much or too little of them. Being able to drive on the roads is good; if everyone drove at the same time the experience would be less good. Roast dinners, chocolate, and warmth are good - but it doesn't follow that if you have too much of them they will be better. The same is true of the free market - all innovators need drive, enthusiasm and keenness to make a living - but they also need to come up with something that people want, be it a new invention, a good set of songs for an album, a better version of a product already on the market, a service people would value, and so on. The right amount of commitment, diligence, inspiration and hard-work will do you good. But if that spills over into unhelpful greed, cupidity and status-mongering, it won't just be bad for the individual's psychology - it will probably affect his or her ability to be innovative too. Striking the right balance is the key.

*Conversation then ended*.

* Photo courtesy of