When Greed and Stupidity Are Both Pretty Stupid
When given only two very bad impulses to guide human behavior, which one would smart people choose?
Times Columnist David Brooks answered the question by wading into the battle of ideas between greed and stupidity--specifically the role greed and stupidity played in the great financial unraveling of 2008-09. Brooks decided that stupidity wasn't all that bad compared to greed.
Perhaps it was just the (much disputed) conservative in Brooks kicking in to say one of these equally nefarious motivations was necessary to embrace if we want to preserve a political and economic culture of minimal government oversight friendly to cowboy finance. We've known Brooks was a free marketeer for a long time, but until now, he's always seemed like a smart one.
The Brennan Center's Monica Youn explains schoolingly that choosing between greed and stupidity implies an ultimately false dichotomy. In reality, both of these baser instincts were necessary, in great abundance, to create the financial debacle which we will be cleaning up for a long time to come. Youn writes, "discarding the greed narrative in favor of the stupidity narrative is the old tale of the blind men and the elephant—a refusal to recognize that both trunk and tail are parts of the same animal."
Micheal Lewis would likely agree with Ms. Youn in her rebuke of Brooks. When he spoke to Big Think about the free market and morality he had a lot to say on greed: "I think greed is sort of a professional obligation on Wall Street. Not being greedy on Wall Street is like not wanting to be funny for a comedian."
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
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- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
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