I saw the film Inside Job this morning and it gave me a few notes to take. It’s about the 2008 economic crisis.
I’ve always believed that there must be something wrong if more than half of the society consider it perfectly normal to get something out of nothing. No system works in the long run following this line, be it weight loss, gambling, physics or our financial system. People who “earned” millions a year by transferring money, did not create direct, solid wealth, e.g. food or clothes or cars. Their action, put plainly, was to take money from group A who wanted to “earn” something out of nothing, and give it to group B who gladly took that money and spent it. Apart from the rare occasions where group B were actually people who did create wealth, and the bank did create indirect value by making that action possible, the dealers’ work is, most of the time, worthless. But of course, surely that is their job, right? To tell good investments from feeble ones, not to pump as much cash into the system as possible, so as to give their wallet a nice boost.
No it isn’t.
Greed is not a trait to blame. It is merely any animal’s best guideline to survive. However without a better system to guide that greediness, it could go as wrong as it did back then.
It is a fact, that all creatures are egoists by nature. And it works a charm in a jungle of competitors. We defend ourselves, both as an individual and as a society, to maintain our existence on the planet. Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Because guided naturally, egoism leads to healthy competition as well as cooperation.
We comb each others’ hair so we ourselves feel warm and loved inside. We trade food for clothes so that people with a specific skill could spend their fixed amount of time creating more wealth, thereby benefiting the whole society.
But how to guide our natural little gift so as to make the world a better place instead of a worse off one? I don’t have an exact cookbook of answer for that. However I do believe the possible solution lies somewhere near education. And the core point is to help most of us human being establish the correlation between hard work and awesomeness.
If a large portion of our children and grandchildren could:
- Enjoy the sole wonder and amazement while they’re halfway building a sand castle or a real castle, because it’s hard work and hard work is fun
- Lose themselves in creator’s high when they’re smacking the keyboard to create a social networking website, because it’s hard work and hard work is fun (Quote Mr. Zuckerberg, on the film Social Network, “basically the framing is that the whole reason for making Facebook is because I wanted to get girls, or wanted to get into clubs… They [the film’s creators] just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.”)
- Maybe feel happy growing food to eat because it’s hard work and hard work is fun
- Or sometimes enjoy annoying others because it’s hard work and hard work is always fun
- Most importantly, as a book the Mindset suggests, get praised for hard work instead of cleverness.