A few weeks back we received a "video" featuring the late Milton Friedman. Friedman was a Nobel laureate economist whose basic economic premise was one of individuals acting in their own self-interest. He argued that the best system was one where individuals were allowed to choose their own paths - ones that were beneficial to their futures and in their own interests.
Some call Friedman's theories a defense of greed. We'd argue that greed only exists where there's an absence of the ability to choose another course of action - an absence of liberty.
In a market driven society, parties enter into agreements voluntarily - agreements that benefit the self-interests of both parties. If one party fails hold up their end of the bargain thereby harming the interests of the other party, their transaction fails. As a consequence, the failing party is punished by a market that will increasingly refuse to enter into transactions that benefit their interests.
There's an old saying in business... make a customer happy and they'll tell ten people - make a customer unhappy and they'll tell a hundred. Such is the nature of the market. Punishment is meted out almost immediately, while good reputations are earned over time.
Government cannot and does not stop the natural human pursuit of self-interest. In fact, government amplifies its effect. By definition, government employees and officials have authority over the governed. Each and every one has the ability to impose their individual will upon those whom they are supposed to serve. Sometimes they are serving the "public good." Other times, they are following orders. And still other times they are following some arbitrary whim. But in each and every case, they are serving their own self-interest.
"The world runs on individuals pursuing their self-interests." It really doesn't matter whether or not you live in a communist, capitalist, socialist, or fascist, society - people pursue their self-interests as they understand them.
Often people wonder how so many Germans could stand by and watch so many Jews being slaughtered at the hands of blood-thirsty Nazis. The answer is simple. The German population, not targeted by Nazi hatred feared for their lives. They believed that it was in their self-interest to look the other way.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where those in power "never want a serious crisis to go to waste." We as citizens have chosen a group of leaders who believe that the answer to our county's crises is to take ever more control of our country's financial and business institutions. They've pointed the finger of blame at business while at the same time preventing those same institutions from bearing the consequences of their bad actions.
From bailouts to treaty violations (NAFTA) to healthcare to taxes on bonuses to global warming for God's sake, the answer is to give more and more authority to an ever more tyrannical government. And make no mistake - government is acting in its own self-interest.
Milton Friedman believed in freedom - freedom to choose and freedom from government. The more we ask of government, the more it takes from us in the form of money and in the currency of liberty. In the end, the only ones who are empowered to be truly greedy are those who are empowered to deprive others of their freedom to choose another course of action.