Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Radioactive Greed Dragon Shallows the City on the Hill

I mined my journal to get ideas for today's poem. In the section I read form the wandering mensch of my mind, I considered the the claim about the value of greed by Milton Freidman. It was later satirized by Michael Douglas's portrayal of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. (Ivan Boesky delivered a speech that echoed Friedman's thoughts.) Many have taken the idea of the virtues of Greed and Competition as Gospel, but without critical thinking. Have our advances in sciences, technology and agriculture been due to greed. I think of Norman Borlaug. Did he accomplish all he did, leading the green revolution, out of greed. Clearly not. Nor did Einstein. Jack Kilby, no. Yet just those three have effected life far more and any of the current Goldman Sachs executives. In fact in you can combine all of the achievements Goldman Sachs executives and multiply by a billion (everything Goldman touches in measured in billion) and they do not have as much positive influences of either Jack Kilby or Norman Borlaug. Neither of the later two are household names like Donald Trump, but both will continue to influence the world long after the Trumps of the world are long forgotten. And they were not driven by competition or greed. With Dr. Borlaug, he was motivated by compassion for poor Mexican farmers. Jack Kilby was driven by curiosity to invent the computer chip. Both compassion and curiosity have lead to more innovation than greed. Should we, then, cultivate discovery, compassion and wonder? I believe so, and the evidence is clearly on the side of cultivating a culture of classic virtues and reject the glorification of greed.

Soliloquy to Wonder

To compete or not to compete, that is what to consider.
Whether it is right to claim that game theory, with its winners
and losers, captures the human reality completely, or
does taking up wonder, awe, and adventure creates
the ocean of discovery. The two oppose each other.
To compete, to compete, to compete and sleep red
in the tooth for the blood of fools weaker than you.
Their heartache, the thousands of losers, claiming moeny
not theirs. But here is the rub, those who create do so
from a love sweet as a poets description of the female
topography,. The ridges and plains of innovation comes
less from the fierce but the joy of Ah Ha. Yes, give pause.
The creative coil, the human struggle against death, gives
us a perchance to dream. Competing makes a calamity
of long short life, winners alone at the top, and losers lusting
after with resentment over what could have been. Yet,
think. The creators, Picasso, Borlaug Einstein, and Jack Kilby,
create and don't compete. Drive by wonder and not
the glories of swords. Yes, those who compete might win.
But remember all their sins. The light bulb was not theirs.
The the feeding of the hungry is not theirs. The creation
of the computer chip is not theirs. Overpriced cars, Champagne,
and the vampire squid of greed such the life of anything
that smells of money. Yes, that is the competitors accomplishment.
Love, wonder, and awe are beyond their small minds.

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