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Greed: A treatise in two essays



Booklet contains the two previous essays,  Greed I and Greed II.   Click to bookseller.




- New essay -  

© Copyright: Julian Edney 2007




by Julian Edney

Cheating and corruption widespread and widely accepted today. Mandeville’s theory, inspiration for Adam Smith, argued crime and corruption are good for the economy.  Is a society ever under control? Ferguson’s theory: societies cannot be steered; but greed and love of luxury always predict national decline. Malthus’s essay, with contempt. Inspiration for Darwin, it established the suffering of the poor as a good. The modern disappearance of the common good:  Ayn Rand in our crosshairs. She vigorously campaigned for selfishness and for the demolition of the common good, and her ideology  saturates modern policy making. Materialism: research establishes its threat to family values and to the individual. The zero-sum debate. An American theory explaining how the wealthy enrich themselves at the expense of the poor: Henry George explained how progress produces poverty. Recent research shows that social inequality kills. In cities or nations with marked social inequality, there is less happiness, more violence, shorter life expectancies. The discovery of a class living sub-poverty. The rich now retreating into gated communities.



         After thirty years of deregulation, cutting back social programs and promoting free market ways, elements of a frontier-style economy are reappearing in America. The profit line, and uncertainty, rule. This, according to Peter Gosselin, is the result of laissez-faire ideal which has been promoted since the 1970s and was accelerated under President Reagan (1). Its drive to privatize and to lighten government has been so effective as to change the way we earn our living. Americans now find their personal finances going through wild swings. Work has become precarious.

        More Americans find they cannot rely on their employers. Some, even executives, suffer layoffs in cycles. To stay employed, many have to change their line of work four or five times in a lifetime. At the same time support and retraining programs have been scaled back, and the worker has to dig into his own pocket to finance these layoffs. In the past he might appeal to his union for support, but union power is at low ebb. There is little security and even less sympathy for today’s workers, with fewer companies paying medical insurance, and no honor for time served. Pensions are a crap shoot.

        Free marketers proudly point: there is freedom in this new volatility. It is a more open system so each person can rise on his merit. But these personal boom-and-bust cycles leave less in the bank. Caught in a downdraft, with rent or mortgage still due, the worker must borrow. Across the nation, personal debt is up.

        This unpredictability breeds anxiety; survival means a short-term mindset.

        Grab what you can, while you can.




         We are a punitive society. We use the death penalty and routinely issue long prison terms for drug offenses. Three-strike policies can mean a life sentence for a petty crime. We make a lot of moral talk about pedophilia, drug use, teen pregnancy and welfare dependency. But nobody talks about the epidemic of cheating.

      David Callahan, in his book The Cheating Culture, says everybody’s doing it: job applicants, brokers, golfers, reporters, taxpayers, lawyers, insurance payers, employees, athletes, salesmen, students. A cheating culture has emerged (2).

     Cheating has always occurred, but Callahan traces a marked increase since 1970s. He says it’s connected to the free market ethic. It jumped after President Reagan was elected in 1980 and in the subsequent hands-off policy, led by the belief ‘business knows best,’ it has infected all sectors. Now there is a kind of lawlessness in economic life.

      It’s not just erasing inconvenient numbers on a tax form. Callahan cites evidence that eighty percent of high school students with A averages admit to some kind of academic cheating. And a fifth [!] of all job applicants’ resumes contain fictional college degrees.

     It’s odd. Organized crime is down, and drunk driving down, but now everybody is cutting corners to get ahead. And this, he says, represents a profound moral crisis.


                                                        Rot at the top


       What are the causes? We face ever-rising costs of living. Anxiety about money is rife. If the average person sees everybody else doing it, and getting away with it, temptation is up.

       Also the average person is especially likely to imitate the “winning classes.” So when lawyers’ overbilling becomes routine, when accountants, who are supposed to be strictly impartial, make money as consultants showing companies bookkeeping strategies, when doctors get caught up in pyramid schemes and pressure patients into buying extra medications, and when high profile athletics coaches cheat, the public copies. It’s trickle-down corruption.

      Among our middle social ranks, extra pressure is on because doing the right thing just doesn’t pay the mortgage anymore. The middle class, once famous for its stability and work ethic, is turning to every man for himself, sinking into dog-eat-dog ways.  

      All this, Callahan says, is daily stirred by the intense visual imagery of television which breeds a “grotesque materialism” which has overrun our morality.

     Callahan says cheating is now “normalized.” We have a new national moral standard: ‘whatever it takes.’ And we have a vast betrayal of the public trust. It is eating up our famous social contract (3).



       If we are trying to fix a society long fueled by greed, we should be aware of the immensity of our task. We are up against a national ideology. It sits on top of some theories which are incontestable.

      This third essay rounds out our tour of landmark theories which aid and abet greed.

      At the end of this book is a separate list of practical remedies. Necessarily, the remedies break custom because our current ways are leading us into jeopardy.

      This essay includes a couple of historical giants, and I revisit Darwinism to build my argument that it is more than a scientific theory. It serves our national ideology. Both Darwinism and its half-brother Social Darwinism are partly political theories, derived from Malthus’s opinions. Malthus’s essay greatly satisfied the wealthy because it takes the blame off the wealthy for poverty, and cast the poor as having only themselves to blame. Secondly, and immorally, theses theories imply nothing should be done.

     Biological science contributes hugely to technological advances and to health support. But it has never supported the struggle for justice.

     This essay also dismantles the zero-sum argument. A zero-sum exchange is when one person wins what another person loses; the win and the loss sum to zero. Capitalists rabidly insist our economy is not zero-sum because that would mean the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor. Instead, capitalists offer trickle down theory. This essay argues trickle down theory is fairy dust. If it ever did apply, in small and slow communities, it is now overwhelmed by the modern winner-take-all theory, working in the opposite direction.

       This essay defoliates Ayn Rand. Rand, I argue, is no spent force. She spent most of her life spreading propaganda which has helped corrupt popular thinking. Her prescriptions still inspire the young, damage public morality, and contaminate America’s economic policies.




       The free market system, which generates great wealth, is running on a clutter of bizarre contradictions. Our nation is touted as a nation of abundance, and it is a nation in which scarcities are common, and man-made, because scarcity creates value. It is a nation united, and the country is cleft. Everybody benefits from America’s business, but the poor are paying the price of the success at the top. It is a nation founded on the notion of happiness, and anxiety abounds. A nation in which teamwork is urged and individual competition is urged. A nation which ships out surplus food, and has hungry people. It is a nation which touts itself as cultured and humane, in which ruthlessness and winning is openly prized. In a nation which claims to be given over to democracy, half the working population spends its days in business workplaces which are dreaded and sickening little dictatorships.

      Compared with our bright founding papers, this is a foul outcome.

      The greatest casualty is justice. The nation now runs less on justice than on wealth.

      A second grievous casualty is the national intelligence. To placidly accept all these contradictions, and not be all-day nauseous that something is horribly askew, requires that we stop thinking. Actually, that possibility is not extreme. If we watch copious television, if we immerse in shopping, we swim in the new materialism and the new self-centeredness, we will not notice.

      A main point in this essay is that these contradictions are possible if we are educated into certain theories. We routinely teach them in our schools. And they are possible if we scrupulously avoid certain other theories.




      These essays sometimes present digests of some thick, forgotten books; they all bear on the problem of greed.

      First, a theory that is hardly ever mentioned.

      It may help to glance back at our starting point.

      A basic puzzle, as philosophers see it: how do we reconcile the selfish nature of people with the good of society?

      Small hordes of writers have filled books trying out solutions that involve economics, biology, God, sociology and politics. It turns out, there is no simple answer.  But writers keep trying, because the implications of no answer are dire. The absence of an answer implies humans cannot live in societies.    

     The history of this problem contains some bold attempts. The next answer we visit is so original that the author was hauled before a judge. This is also a theory which modern economics would prefer remain buried. So I will winch it up out of the mud.




       Poetry and economics rarely meet, but they did in England in the spring of 1723. One Bernard de Mandeville was circulating a piece of verse so scandalous, he was hustled into court to be censored as a public nuisance. He was delighted. People were finally paying attention.

       Mandeville was a Dutch-born physician who augmented his professional fees by writing erotica. He remained obscure until old age (then 53) when his legal problems with the poem suddenly pushed him into the big time. This was 36 years before Adam Smith started publishing. Smith read the poem, and acknowledged Mandeville’s influence. (Adam Smith’s theory could not have existed without Mandeville).

       The poem rippled through the literate population of England. For three generations it was snickered over in clubs and savaged in drawing rooms. It was satire, in easy English, a sketch of the way society really works. It pulled the covers off the right hypocrisies. It was scandal, yes, but it provided later Enlightenment thinkers (Smith, Hume, Kant, Ferguson) with a gem of an idea.

       The court deliberated, and declined to censor. But Puritan clerics, the religious police of the time, started putting his name about as “Man-Devil.” They called his morality mutinous.




       The focus of all this was The Fable of the Bees (4). It is twelve pages of rhyming couplets with a heavy metrical swat. It sounds quite old fashioned but the topic is entirely modern. How does corruption, covert viciousness and crime mesh with a vibrant economy, society’s opulence, and its growth? Mandeville: there is no contradiction, they are a match.

        Immorality, crime and wrongdoing all translate into business energy - exactly what a free economy needs to flourish. See that rascal selling stolen goods? See that tradesman cheating? See that flatterer ply his lies for gain? They all work so industriously. See that lawyer splitting cases to create more work and more enmity? It’s all business. It’s all good for the economy.

      Mandeville saw society as an energetic hive of bees. Bees were thought to be selfish and gluttons for sweet nectar. So the more their industrious selfishness, the more the hive grew.

       The hive contains the grubbing poor, “wretches” who slave for a living and who are unintelligent and who only want small pleasures and who are easy to exploit. And a higher class, the more intelligent, who manipulate appearances, flatter, know how to use vanity and deception to become opulent. They rich browbeat the poor into making them believe their poverty is sinful.

     Paradoxes are everywhere. There is a great show of Christian goodness which is never practiced. Observe the Bishop who pontificates on Christian humility. His own humility must be very ponderous if it needs that big coach and six horses to pull it around. Or the nanny who pretends to love a child she despises so she can keep her job. Thieves were even useful because they kept locksmiths employed.

       Mandeville said, it is not civic commitment nor social pleasures that welds a community together, but the vices. Civilized man has need for esteem, power and carnal satisfaction, and he covets what others have. It is as much envy and competition that keeps people together - and keeps them busy.

     And what about the final arbiter, Justice?      


                                       Justice herself, fam’d for fair Dealing,

                                       By blindness had not lost her Feeling;

                                       Her left hand, which the scales should hold,

                                       Had often dropt ‘em, bribed with gold.


      In sum, a vibrant economy is driven by sin. Vice is given a social place.

      The poem fits quite comfortably over modern times. What if we were a community of people so well behaved on the streets there were no accidents? – the auto insurance industry would fall apart. What if everybody got along without quarrelling? – lawyers would go unemployed. 

      A harmonious community is not a driven community. Its economy would falter and wilt.

      We can hardly teach this to our students.


                                                             Watered down


         Adam Smith was a generation behind Mandeville. Smith’s theory follows the same principle. He just watered it down. Instead of listing forms of licentiousness, instead of glorifying fraud, Smith said gently, let people do whatever they want, it is somehow all for the common good. By making Mandeville’s theory genteel, it pegged Smith a place in history.




     Big ideas seem to come in clusters and there are periods in history when genius flows, and there are fallow periods. Adam Smith happened to live and write at the same time as several other great minds, a cluster of geniuses who made up the Scottish Enlightenment which lasted a few decades each side of 1760 (5).  It included Hutcheson, Smith, Reid, Hume, and Ferguson, and it happened a lot around Edinburgh.

     These men knew each other, argued, and borrowed ideas. Creative surges imply tolerance, but the Enlightenment was partly a rebellion against an intolerant Church. The ideas that humans were capable of independent reason (as opposed to going to the Bible for all answers), followed their own motives (were not all instruments of God), were created alike (equality), and were relatively free, enraged church censors because all those ideas put control back in the hands of man,. It allowed an escape from religious terrors, and the Church’s control over eternal punishment.

     But if you invent the idea that humans are in charge of their own lives, then you have to follow through and come up with explanations for how they live together in nonreligious terms. So this period saw an outpouring of big theories about man-in-society. They filled the vacuum where everything was previously God’s will.

     Making new philosophy was actually risky in those days. Smith, Bentham, Mill (the original utilitarians), Hume and Ferguson were all narrowly skirting charges of heresy. But they were provocative and interesting, and a lot of people jumped in. The Enlightenment expanded into a public battleground of ideas (6).

      Following is another bold attempt on the original question. How does the natural selfishness of humans reconciles with the good of society? Ferguson was one of these philosopher-rebels and his original opinion, in his Essay on the History of Civil Society, is that they don’t reconcile for long (7). In simple: humans need society in order to survive. But then they always screw it up. Materialism and greed get the upper hand.




        Adam Smith, Ferguson’s contemporary, was saying, people want pleasure. They work hard, and they continually try out new methods and improve things, for their own benefit. Those improvements spread through communities. So, people chasing after personal pleasure, through the mechanism of the marketplace, eventually adds up to an improving community. There, we have a cause and an effect.

       But Ferguson’s point was unique: people don’t cause anything in a lawful way. They most you can say is, people play bit parts in an awesome, unfolding drama of the rise and fall of nations, which is both mysterious and never ending. This is not God-inspired, but it is nature.

      Ferguson said: nature is a mystery. New societies start, springing up like the wind. And each society’s history is a train of events from savage and crude beginnings all the way up to refinement.  It always looks like civilization is the goal; but in fact there is no goal, no guaranteed path to an elevated happiness. Because history is open-ended; anything can happen.




        That is the Scottish theory of unintended consequences. It is one of the original ideas from the Enlightenment. It says, there is no cause and effect. Nature is too big to reduce to principles that simple. So, Ferguson said, no matter how hard you try to control things, or steer a society, things will backfire on you. Societies are afflicted by a kind of cosmic Murphy’s Law, and you cannot govern (cause) to produce progress (effect). If progress happens, it is accidental. So Ferguson scoffs at Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ causally linking selfishness to the group’s good. If the group does benefit, that is an accident. And there is no ‘forward’ we can rely on.

         So there is no reconciliation between selfishness and the well-being of society.




      Ferguson also said, there is only one regular pattern in the life of all civilizations. They rise, then they fall. And they do not fall because bigger civilizations step on them, but because internal events bring them down. What looks like a spontaneous return to savagery is a predictable collapse, due to flaws within. (And we should concede to Ferguson the historical fact that all civilizations have died, except the present.)

      Here is the repeating cycle.

      First, a small clan appears. It is the start. It is ‘rude’ and vigorous as it fights for a foothold. Whether it battles the elements, or takes new ground against neighbors, it is full of common purpose and it is tough, Spartan and scrappy. The people value courage above all. They will not submit to anything and they are naturally egalitarian. In fact, they are contemptuous of wealth and possessions, which slow you down. In these early times, ability is a virtue.

        If the clan survives, it digs in. It starts to apply its energy to farming and building. Keeping weapons close, everybody pitches in to lay out fields and to plant. Then harvests come, so people have possessions. This is a free and equal group. If the group thrives, and if they stay this way, all seems to point toward democracy.

        But over time, personal fortunes grow. There maybe excess. Some people become wealthy. They can relax. Wealth catches the people’s eye.

        Later, subtly, it is not bravery but possessions that attract attention.

        Excess is admired. Ornament creeps in. Subtly the standards shift and whereas hard work was everything, now repose is admired.

        Social rank appears – it is connected to possessions.  So people do work for possessions, but they also learn tricks at the market. Buying and selling increases, commerce grows. People seem to have ever-growing appetites for possessions.

        But not everybody advances. Jealousy stirs. Laws are devised to protect possessions.

        The community swells. It will be a big commercial society. It will become a republic. It will become wide and picturesque, eventually it may become flamboyant.

        And at this advanced stage, nobody admires hard work any more. The society takes pride in being polished. People dress conspicuously and imitate certain ways of expression.

        It is the beginning of the end, say Ferguson.

        The next stage is both unplanned and inevitable.

        Now the citizen rarely thinks about the whole. He becomes concerned with himself and where he stands. A certain despair settles among those who have been left behind. Now inequality is conspicuous and everywhere. And the poor come to depend on the rich, which is not freedom.

       Now, all is social rank, for which people become avaricious. Sometimes they are willing to trespass on the rights of others, even become corrupt. Luxury draws attention to trifles, to delicacy, to languor: luxury excites people to be excessive and vicious. The right appearances are desperately sought. Luxury itself is the source of corruption. It takes the market, which turns into a system of impositions, snares and traps.

       Now in a continual state of suspense and anxiety over their positions, people both hope to climb, and fear losing what they have. They become careful. Vanity is everywhere. To maintain popularity men become craven and anxious, and this eventually “infect[s] all orders of men with venality, servility and cowardness”(8).

       Moral decay has begun; it spreads rapidly.

       Now where is vigor, where is vibrancy? Instead, everybody admires flaccid wealth. People “flatter imbecility under the name of politeness.”

       Fascination with material possessions has undermined this community. Generations of this, and society effectively is de-boned.

       So when a despot pounces, the people are so self absorbed and anxious, they are helpless.

       The trade of soldier has been neglected, the people cannot fight back. The next inevitable step is dictatorship; and the despot rules with cruelty.

      There are no virtues now, only force and fear.

       Decline hastens.

      What eventually comes is a return to greater chaos than the beginning – a spontaneous return to obscurity, and weakness, under an ever more erratic, harsh and corrupt government.

      The very last stage is riots.




      Between Adam Smith and Ferguson, Smith’s theory was the clear winner. It was optimistic and it said you can steer things, and that sells more copy. Today nobody talks about Ferguson and his ideas that the wealth at the top of a society does not benefit all, and that actually the rich begin the decline, and that no matter what you do, luxury, then radically unequal distribution of wealth, will eventually topple the republic.




       The theory of unintended consequences still lives. It plagues economists. It means their attempts to steer society sometimes have the wrong effect. It sometimes makes their policies perverse.

       This essay describes one of the biggest blunders in two hundred years, a result of economists trying to control things, a result of continually promoting the free market system, a blunder of dimensions so large it will hard to reverse. One of the products of capitalism is inequality. Inequality is valued by capitalists. It is now coming to light that inequality is a killer.




      In both Mandeville’s and Ferguson’s work, corruption is directly connected to the pursuit of possessions and wealth.

      Materialism is an integral part of our economy. Is materialism natural? Is it good?

       According to most major religions, a focus on material goods is unnatural. It creates a loss of balance, and blocks spiritual growth.

      Analyst Arvid Straube says that at this point in America, all of us are driven by this culture’s materialism. It has risen to the point of idolatry (9).    

      Colloquially, if you frequently glance at the things you own, to validate you – house, new car, expensive appliances – you have found where your soul is located.


                                                      Self-defining moments


      This society has long been materialistic. Materialism is also a growing trend.

      This will not reverse soon. Psychologist Jean Twenge, in her recent book Generation Me, reports on the generation of Americans currently growing up, and now in schools and colleges. She does a thorough job cataloguing the new generation’s qualities. The young generation is confident, assertive and independent. It puts self first, puts personal happiness before the group, and before duty. People in this age group do what will make them feel happy. They are nonpolitical, they don’t follow the news, they don’t want to vote. Unconcerned with developing a personal philosophy of life, they seem primarily concerned with making money. They are materialistic(10) (and this is from an insider; Twenge is young enough to include herself as a member of the generation).

       Materialists act as if happiness lies in possessions, particularly money. The belief that money can solve all problems, and the equating of money and self esteem, are two facets.




       It goes further. In this society money defines friendship patterns. Commentator Sean Mitchell says choosing your house and car have become self-defining moments in America because they determine who you will be, and who you will be associating with. Money and material possessions are bigger than all of us. They override our education, our heritage. Families are split because some members are wealthier than others. But this is never talked about in polite conversation (11).

       At the same time psychologist Jean Twenge finds the new generation is more anxious and depressed (12 ).

       I’ll break sequence of the historical landmark theories for some recent research on materialism, and the materialistic personality.

      What research evidence is there?




        Psychologist Tim Kasser, in The High Price of Materialism (13), studied the type of person who puts high income and prestige above close friends and marriage, and who makes commodities his friends – the materialist. This research is not pretty.

        It emerges that materialists are forever focused on self, trying to maximize their own status at the expense of empathy and mutuality. This draws deformities in personal relationships, and materialistic values are generally correlated with shorter, and more negative, relationships. Materialists generally are likely to flee from intimacy, and on personality tests they score as more antisocial. In dating relationships they are more conflictual and aggressive.

       Further, he found materialists to be chronically dissatisfied with themselves. They constantly compare themselves with the lush, brilliant imagery on TV and come off worse. They have more problems with anxiety, depression and alcohol. They have more dreams involving death (14).

       The things materialists acquire are never enough. It is a fundamental point of greed that he more you have, the more you want. They may be driven, but they are like greyhounds chasing a metal rabbit they will never catch.

       The connection between money and happiness is being promoted in every minute of commercial television, and Kasser found that materialists watch copious amounts of TV.

        Because it interferes with personal relationships, materialism conflicts with the stuff of community. Kasser: “When materialistic values dominate our society, we move farther and father from what makes us civilized ” (15).




       Yale’s Robert Lane has also weighed in on this problem. It’s not just that some people get focused on money at the expense of relationships; it’s that in general, materialism and companionship are opposed.

       Lane’s points: humans naturally get their happiness from family and companionship, not from money. Companionship naturally involves trust. But business is indifferent to people. It erodes trust. If you mix friendship and money, friendship loses.

       In the larger scope, the market and happiness are opposed to begin with. So on the other side of this society’s ever-mounting wealth, we are not surprised to find a rising tide of distrust and depression.

       And it’s not just friendships that suffers. Money corrupts marriages too (independent statistics show money arguments are the second  biggest cause of divorce after adultery (16), and Kasser also reports materialists having higher divorce rates (17).)

       So materialism is opposed to family values. Lane puts it this way in his book Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies: as the nation’s wealth grows there is a “titanic conflict between the oldest institution and the newest – the market.” And the family is losing (18).


                                                            Grand sequence


        This essay now returns to time line. We now open one of the darkest theories in the history of ideas.

        Twenty-two years after Smith published Wealth of Nations, another man had a go at the original question, can we fit together the selfishness of people with the good of society?

        Malthus’s essay is part of the grand academic sequence of ideas supporting modern capitalism.



        Rev. Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. It achieved immediate notoriety.

       Unlike Adam Smith, who was a seasoned philosopher before he penned Wealth of Nations, and unlike Darwin whose theory resulted from years of travel and painstaking observations in remote parts, Malthus’s essay was dreamed up at an English fireside one evening, in a moment of opportunity.

      At the time, an idealist named Godwin was riding around English towns as a popular circuit speaker. Godwin was afire, inspired by the recent French Revolution. People crowded to hear him because Britain seemed to be a similar predicament, it had a teeming, starving peasant class, and Godwin’s oratory reached desperate ears. He said that the suffering of the poor came directly from oppressive treatment by the ruling classes.

        Malthus was young, a recent Oxford graduate, and he loved debate. He saw an opportunity to pull Godwin off his horse.




        Malthus’s argument: why do the poor always suffer? It is not from mistreatment or oppression. It is from overpopulation. The poor breed so fast they outrun their own food supplies, and now they starve. So they bring it on themselves. The wealthy are not to be blamed.

        Malthus started his essay with two points he says are self-evident truths (not only applying to humans, but all forms of life). First, populations, if unchecked, naturally reproduce so as to double themselves every generation – a geometric expansion. But the food they eat reproduces at a slower rate – at best, arithmetic. Very soon, a population finds itself in dire want. Its numbers outrun its food.

        We may not see starvation everywhere because other things also cut away a populations: war and disease, so that the population growth is checked before it reaches the point of total famine. Among humans, moral restraint, vice and misery also discourage people from breeding, and the population restrains itself. But the bottom line is that for any living species, populations always press the limits of their food. It is a severe struggle for existence. It is a constant source of misery, in which death is the punishment of defeat, life the prize of victory (19).

       In this timeless drama, the weakest fall first, leaving the strongest. The remaining people are also goaded to extra effort to avoid misery. This effort promotes the general good.

       All of this is natural, said Malthus. It is divinely ordained.

       Next: why does this misery always fall unevenly on a community? Because some people are more productive, self-restraining and prudent than others.

      Malthus says, there may very well be a surplus food at the top and want at the bottom, but that is better than feeding all who are hungry, equally, because the want of the poor is endless and their demands would drain the community. In practice, inequality of distribution preserves the whole.

       So, he said, we should not provide welfare. If we support the poor, it encourages the weak, and promotes dependency. Rather than protecting indigents, we should protect property rights. The people with real estate and wealth should be supported by the law.

      He goes on: the civilized state depends on self-love; it is one of the things that motivates people. And the other thing is pain, which goads people from their sluggish and slothful nature. Since the evil of want prods people to industry, evil turns into good, and “moral evil is probably necessary to the production of moral excellence”(20). And this was all God’s will.




        Malthus’s essay established social inequality as good. The good of society includes suffering. And there is nothing wrong with selfish greed. Wealth is self-justifying.

        It is obvious why this theory was so popular with the landed gentry. But if you are interested in justice being part of how people live in society, Malthus’s theory really twists things up. The word justice does not even appear in the index to Malthus’s book.




       Today, Malthusian principles are beyond dispute. But at publication time, Malthus was widely rejected. His biographer, James Bonar, documents that for the first thirty years it rained refutations (21). The three main reasons: first, the essay is saturated in moralisms (such as prudence and self-restraint against vice and sloth; at one point Malthus says “poverty ought to be held disgraceful” (22)).  Second, the essay was obviously political.

        But the third reason is fatal. It is Malthus’s two mathematical ratios. They are figures of speech. They are fantasy. Malthus drew evidence for his ‘geometrical’ increase from the rate at which human population in the new America was spreading, but he fails to mention that the large part of that was not reproduction, but immigration. And his ‘arithmetical’ increase of food is nowhere explained or justified, nor supported with any data. It was a fireside dream.

       His argument confronts elementary logic, because in the world of living things, many species are both populations and food at the same time. They form food chains. Insects are a small bird’s food, at the same time the bird is food for larger birds. So the small bird is both population and food – how can its population increase at two different mathematical ratios?

      These flaws were known. So why did the essay find eventual acceptance?

      Because the writing was immensely reassuring. It seemed to weave the terrors of starvation, war and disease into a grand system, and to give them a predictable place. Pain is not what it seems, because God’s will is not misery, it is actually the larger good.

       It also meant the heat was off the ruling class. 

       And importantly, the theory meant people didn’t have to do anything.




       This is intellectual stuff. We pause here to adjust our burden, and to glance at the path ahead.

       The major point ahead is that Smith’s, Malthus’s and Darwin’s theories are not lights hanging in isolation. Darwin acknowledged Malthus as the influence for his theory of natural selection (23). But Malthus’s theory also complements Adam Smith’s, with the idea of a society thriving on selfishness. The three theories form an arch.                                               

        Malthus’s argument is contemptible. Not only because he passed off a mathematical metaphor as fact, but also because he spun evil into good. He was a religious authority using divine will to explain inequity and injustice.

       Henry George (following) had the insight that Malthus’s theory is the keystone keeping that arch intact, with economics on one side, natural selection on the other




       Our textbooks educate us into the understanding of a well-ordered society in a way that use Malthus’s opinions as a truth. That understanding is an edifice which sanctifies a contradiction: an enlightened, humane, advanced society which breeds overflowing wealth, sitting on top of suffering.

      Malthus’s justifications created both an intellectual and a moral tragedy. They excuse policy that means the continued infliction of pain.

       If you knocked that keystone out, it would threaten an intellectual dislocation in two academic disciplines.


                                    Henry George                                         


      The scenery ahead takes a more familiar coloring: the next theories are American.

      Here is a hundred-year break in historical sequence, and the next landmark is Henry George.

      An American, George was on the other side of the political fence. He put his work together with utter lack of support. He was self-educated, in poverty at the time of writing, and he was without academic backing. He became nationally known in his lifetime, but he is now not remembered – perhaps because he was just an intellectual upstart, perhaps because there was no rioting nor bloodshed after his book appeared.   

       In 1879 George was a young and unknown San Francisco printer. Seeking his fortune, he traveled to New York City. Walking around, he was stunned by the sight of juxtaposed riches and poverty, by “such heaped wealth interlocked with such deep debasing want”(24); the sight of starving people shuffling on streets built in towering magnificence. He eventually came to the idea that advancing wealth and deepening poverty were connected.




     In his time, the Gilded Age, the America’s wealth was rapidly expanding, and in the biggest cities opulence and extravagance were flaunted by those who had it, and the have-nots suffered on the street. George pondered: but why is labor always struggling at the fringes of existence, barely able to make ends meet, even as the nation’s productive power was going up and capital growing?

     George read everything he could find on economics in the public libraries. He wanted an explanation for what he saw with his own eyes: the rich were getting richer, yes, but the poorer were falling further behind. He was looking for a specific mechanism. He read Smith, Ricardo, articles by contemporary professors, documents from foreign countries and government reports. Received economics said: wages are paid from capital; the growing capital trickles down, feeding everybody, making workers wealthier. The money made by the rich is good for everybody.

    George reflected. Then he turned on it all with ferocity. The basics of classical economics were all wrong.

     He wrote a book Progress and Poverty and published at his own expense. The book is lucidly written (unlike the constipated prose of trained economists).

     In summary: it is a fallacy that the free market system drives a wedge under society, lifting all. It drives a wedge through society.




       George started by contradicting known principles, point by point. To begin with, he said, wages do not come from capital, they are taken from the fruits of labor. In practice, labor is always paid at the end of a work period (week or month) when the employer has already sold the product. So labor pays for itself.

       Growing capital is not given back to labor. It is invested in more equipment, but primarily in land. There is a vigorous competition to own land, and not for any use, but for a rise (speculation). Money can also be made if you charge labor to use the land.

       The ownership of land is a waste. Land by itself does not make anything. Land does not do anything except excite competition, and as population grows, the landlord can charge more and more rent. Labor always needs a place to work, so they have to pay rent. As the value of the land goes up, so rents are raised. In fact, rents are always raised to keep pace with land value and profits.

      But the laborer’s wages are not raised.

      Rent is always charged in advance. So in practice, the laborer has whatever is left over to spend on food and necessities, an amount that decreases as rents rise. Over time he must work harder and harder to make ends meet. So production goes up, profits go up, and at the end of the month he is poorer.

      Rent unlocks the puzzle.

     “The increase in land values is always at the expense of the value of labor… rent swallows up the whole gain and pauperism accompanies progress”(25).




      If rent is the pivot, we should scrutinize. Exactly what is rent?

      Actually, Adam Smith had drawn the first definition. It is as crisp as it is indifferent, and it survives today. Rent is the money left over after a producer sells his product and subtracts his costs of production and the costs of his existence, and his landlord can claim it. So if you are a farmer, or if you have a workshop where you manufacture things, all the money you make, minus your costs, can be claimed by your landlord. That seems like a lot. But we remember that the landlord has the power to shut down your operation: he can evict you.

      According to Adam Smith’s definition, then, rent can keep you in poverty.

      Subsequent economists added to his definition. If the land is good, tenants will pay more for it, and the landlord can calculate what would be the highest and best use of the property. Ricardo pointed out, however, that if a landlord owns all of the land in town he will jack up his rents, just because he can. Tenant is now paying the price of monopoly. Even if there is no monopoly, individual landlords watch each other and raise their rents in concert, and the effect is the same: the tenant has to pay.

     Note that by Smith’s original definition, rent is calculated at the end of a production period, so it should go down and up, depending on how good the farmer’s season. No, said George. Since rents are pegged to land values, they do not go down and up, they go up and up.

      Rent is the intimate connection between wealth and poverty.

      In George’s view, “Rent is robbery.” But this robbery “is not like the robbery of a horse or a sum of money, that ceases with the act. It is a fresh and continuous robbery, that goes on every day and every hour…it debases, and embrutes, and embitters.” “Fortunes are necessarily made at the expense of labor”(26) and rent-produced poverty is an open mouthed, relentless hell that yawns beneath civilized society. As this inequality grows, he said, there will ultimately be de facto enslavement of those who have to live on land owned by others, and a general subjection of the many to the few.




      So George gave rent a moral value.

      And is private property the foundation of civilization, as other philosophers asserted? The reverse, said George. It is the source of its worst injustices.

      Henry George did not advocate the abolition of private property. He believed the solution was to tax land-values so heavily as to make land ownership unattractive (in fact, he advocated that land-value taxes should be the only taxes.)




      Nowadays, the idea that rents should be controlled is so disreputable that rent control is usually the first example given in economics textbooks on how to disrupt the magic of laissez-faire. Any connection between rent and poverty are seldom made.

      But a recent Los Angeles Times article makes this connection, arguing that an increase in child poverty in the city should be blamed on housing costs (27).

       Currently in California, while living costs are spiking, real wages are down. The asking rent for Southern California residential units now average $1,413 per month, far above the reach of a working class family. To keep a roof over their heads, many families are moving to unsafe neighborhoods like Central- and South Los Angeles, working multiple jobs to pay rent, and living in badly overcrowded units. The children are suffering (28).

     This has been going on for years. Indeed, South Los Angeles demographics now resemble those of a third world country. Poverty rates are over 30% in some zip codes. Our national child poverty rate has been reported variously at 17% and at 20.3%, but in Los Angeles County it is 24.6%. In South Central, where rents are lower, the children's schools are abysmal, child disease rates are high, and violent crime rates are high (29). Fear, poor nutrition and bad education are all childhood experiences that all ripple forward into adulthood. And that perpetuates the poverty.




        Renters are everywhere in America. 61% of Los Angeles families are renters. Los Angeles rents have jumped 82% in the last 10 years.  But if you try to bring this connection up in casual conversation, you will see the fog roll in and somebody raises the liberal line that nobody really understands the causes of poverty. We point elsewhere: it’s part of a national problem, and you can always see more expensive rentals in New York, or worse health sinks in New Orleans.

        But from the point of view of the working class, it’s very clear. You work and work and work, and then the landlord reaches in and says, that’s my money.

       I suspect that among people who benefit from this silence are some landlords who consider themselves sensitive to social issues. They do not want to talk about rents.




       The next landmark on this tour is some written work which crosses the line between theory and propaganda. This crossing is important to watch. A few introductory lines: 

       Any national system is a mixture of actions and ideas. My theme is that this nation, too, has a hoisted scenery of big ideas. This ideology justifies, and directs, our customs and our ways.

       Scenery is a word from the theater. Scenery is enclosing. These ideas surround us. They work as a kind of prompt, reminding us which play we are acting out, and the lines we are supposed to say. These ideas are carefully taught from childhood, and now they immerse the average adult mind to the point we go about our days believing in this theater. We are so immersed, we no longer aware that these ideas are ideas, any more than a fish in the middle of the ocean realizes that its environment is wet. Part of our amazement when visiting another country is realizing that a different set of scenery can work just as well.

    These big ideas come in different styles. If they are real theories, they are worded dryly and correctly. If they are dogma, they are worded stridently (religions are theories, of course, so they function like idea-scenery too) and rhetoric replaces logic. If the ideas are faith, they come with the assertion that the theory is true even if the evidence shows it is false; those ideas are presented by authority and we are not allowed to question the authority. Further, if the ideas are propaganda, the wording is strident, not scientific, and it is still a big idea, but it uses motivating drama with an obvious push to convert people. Propaganda is set of ideas used by some people to gain rapid power. Propaganda appears whenever a group, or community, or nation’s aim is to expand fast.


                                                       Language of control 


        When a large power keeps growing and growing, it sometimes develops messianic tones. Nations: all nations encourage patriotism, and that is not bad, and it is nice to have love of home and country. But if a country develops and swells and grows again it may decide that its success is because it is ‘chosen.’ It may next decide its methods should be applied other countries. And then people start talking their ideas in an especially driven way; they may become fanatic. Fanaticism has a few symptoms. One is the drive to put everything under “one” (leader, truth or principle). Plus, there is rhetoric about saving the world for its own good. At the same time, dissent is squashed; and there is righteous punishment for anyone who says different. This is a special treatment of ideas. Humans work themselves into these moods now and again, and sometimes the end results are horrific slaughter. Another examples of these ‘large powers’ are religious organizations.

      I argue, massive corporations are another example. Some corporations are now big enough to be communities. Some have more money than some national economies.  They are responsible to nobody but their shareholders. They moving mighty amounts of capital around, and that is their power. Increasingly, they call the shots for governments.

     Watching the largest corporations, we are anxious that they don’t at some point take the next step in the growth of power, developing shadowy propaganda about saving the world, and about bringing benefits to reluctant cultures which are still too backward to understand. Because this is also the language of control. When we watch television commercials accompanied by deep, powerful music which explain that a corporation’s reason for existence is to solve the world’s problems, or to shape the future, we can be nervous.

       All ideologies select some ideas and omit others. We hear what corporate ideology always contains: profits and expansion. And we note what it always omits. While it claims it will expand freedom, perhaps democracy in the world, it never includes building equality.

        (Perhaps we should be grateful that so far, none of the big corporations have sprouted private militias.)

        As Lord Acton observed, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.




          The next landmark theory shows how power becomes its own justification in a business environment. It is filled with propaganda-like language. It is another attempt to answer the question how the selfishness of individuals reconciles with the good of society. But the historical timing of this theory is important. It preceded the explosive expansion of American corporate power we are witnessing today.


                                                              Ayn Rand


        Ayn Rand carried the torch for laissez-faire capitalism in America from the 1930s to the 1980s. She published two books of essays, Capitalism and The Virtue of Selfishness. She roiled the public’s imagination with two novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (30-33). Many American baby boomers have copies of her books on their bookshelves. Rand actually sold over three million books in America, more than any philosopher. One of her biographers estimates books written by her and her followers are still selling at 400,000 a year worldwide (34).

      Rand was short, argumentative, vitriolic and charismatic. She was militantly capitalistic. Her works are saturated in Social Darwinism (35). She influenced some major government policy-makers (the Reagan Administration was largely Randian). Alan Greenspan, ex-Chief of the Federal Treasury, was one of her followers (he contributed three essays to Capitalism). Over the years Rand’s books have influenced in the life, and faith, of millions of readers. Some of these books are now taught in schools and universities.

      Rand excoriated communism, which deeply satisfied America of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

But some of her shouted-up public speeches were beyond antisocial, they were quite poisonous – in general, she urged against compromise, because it was a sign of weakness. With her public rhetoric she scrambled to establish herself as a philosopher with a work she called Objectivism. Philosophers have rejected her. Economists have not.

      Her work endlessly promotes selfishness. “It is only on the basis of selfishness . . . that men can live together in. . . . society”(36). And it indefatigably puts down altruism as a vice.




       Rand imported her ideas from Friedrich Nietzsche, a European who was obsessed with will power. Nietzsche divided humans into two categories: rare, superior personalities who are born leaders, this includes military conquerors, captains of industry, and geniuses; through history they have lead mankind’s advances. And the rest: bumbling, average people.

      Nietzschean values are war-like. Nietzsche was openly contemptuous of the average masses, they are like sheep, they exist to be exploited for the dreams of Supermen. Supermen play by different rules and they are above the law. What they do is not really right or wrong, it is just awesome. But average people drag. They are teeming, petty, judgmental, and they are scared of change, and in their small-minded large numbers, they try to smother progress with bureaucracy and democracy and laws. Helping the teeming masses is counterproductive, said Neitzsche. It weakens the culture; and altruism in the form of welfare only encourages people who stumble around bleating Christian virtues.

      Rand’s world copies this. It is a world of strong versus weak. She pulls all this together as a moral defense of capitalism. Personal freedom must be undiluted to allow super-talent to surge. Anything that subsumes the individual to the group is wrong because it hinders personal freedom. So, collectives are wrong, as are community spirit, taxation, conscription – they all have rules which drag super-talent down. The ‘common good’ likewise; it should be abolished. In fact there should be no such thing as ‘society.’ It is an inhibiting collective.

      Altruism is opposed to individual rights and is the enemy of advancing civilization.

      Absolute laissez-faire was Rand’s ideal, with no government constraint on business and no assistance to the poor. Only glorious liberty.

       In Rand’s work, society and altruism seem to originate together, and she puts them both through her meat grinder.

      All this, she said, is also rational.




        Malthus’s theme runs through both Neitszche’s work and though Rand’s rhetoric. Writers like these three, who describe the world as a drama of remorseless forces of survival and extinction, of grand powers and dark conflicts, always justify their work by saying it is just a depiction of reality. An important difference is that Ayn Rand is prescriptive. She said, that is the way things should be.     

       Rand’s work is perniciously inegalitarian and profoundly undemocratic. It contradicts all major religions which hold selfishness to be evil, and which promote selflessness, charity and self sacrifice as the highest virtues.

      Her biographer, Jeff Walker, researching her personal journals, found an entry written when she was 30. “ One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one’s way to get the best for oneself. Fine!” (37).

       All this toxicity in the pursuit of happiness.

       Rand thought of her own work as propaganda (38).

       It is incendiary in parts. Walker has done a painstaking word count in Atlas Shrugged and found the phrase “shock to the system” nearly every eight pages, the word “zap” 130 times. The word “evil” appears on the average every 4.9 pages - more than in the Bible (39).

      Some critics dismiss Rand as a historical footnote, since she was trained in film school and worked as a scriptwriter. But she was an effective demagogue (40). The damage Rand has done to this society, I argue, may be enormous. Following her demolitions, we have in fact witnessed, over the last 30 years, the disappearance of the concept of the common good. Nobody talks about it any more. Modern Libertarians embrace her (41). Modern Americans now care less about morality, more about strength. And many young readers still find her message inspiring.

     I believe we can throw Objectivism under the bus.


                                                      Secession of wealth


        We are marching toward greater inequality, therefore further from democracy (democracy has two prime values: freedom and equality.)

       Free market capitalism does two things. It grows wealth, and it grows inequality. So people in a society based on market principles will, over time, find themselves becoming increasingly disconnected. And not just individuals. Differences between groups will also grow.

       The next point is that disconnection breeds opposition.

       Step by step, inequality breeds competition. In his Scientific American article, Robert Sapolsky puts this in economists’ terms (42). He says the more unequal two groups are, the less inclined is the stronger group to help the common good. Spending money on universal health care, public transportation, and public schools would help raise the quality of life for the average person. But the less the wealthy identify with those below, the less they use those amenities. It benefits them not to pay taxes but spend on their own private schools, private transportation and private medical systems.  So “the more unequal the income is in a community, the incentive the wealthy will have to oppose public expenditures benefiting the health of the community”(43). In effect, the rich wield immense means to subjugate the poor.

       And inequality is not self-curing.

       Social psychologists have long known how easily competition easily slides into open conflict. This process is hard to reverse ( 44).

       So while trickle-down theorists strut around, grin and give the thumbs-up, we should look a little closer.



        The underlying issues are hot. We suspect the experts try to smuggle ideas under thickets of their special jargon. We would like to see.

         Inequality and competition are the issues.

        The core question: Is this a society in which for one person to rise, another person must fall?

        Social scientists have a way of talking about these things. They describe a little exchange between two people: if you and I compete, and what you win is exactly what I lose, the sum is zero. An exchange has happened in which we have just moved the goods around. It is called a zero-sum exchange, and it results in pure inequality (the ‘have’ over the ‘have-not’). And notice, nothing extra is produced by that exchange.

        A true zero-sum exchange produces a perfect hierarchy. A winner and a loser.

        But if in the exchange we both gain something, or if you gain, while I suffer some loss and some gain, then the sum is not zero. It looks like we both gain, at least something. It is called a non-zero-sum exchange; and you could look at it this way and say that since it is better than zero, perhaps something extra is generated by the exchange.  (And it might have created an inequality, but less steep.)      

        From the math to real examples: if two people are competing for a dollar, or a pencil, one will get it and one won’t. A zero-sum outcome will occur, but it is not serious. But if two people are competing for a place on a crowded lifeboat, the outcome can produce emotion, perhaps panic or fury. 

        It gets a little more realistic if this exchange is played over and over. Day after day, a person has to compete with another to get a seat on a bus. A person is trying for housing in a tight market, and every time he tries, he loses to another person.

        Those examples involve two people. Now we can think of several people, exchanging at the same time. This might mean several people trying to get one item, or it might be two subgroups, and the gain of one group equals the loss of the other. 

       Dog-eat-dog competition is an example of zero-sum. Only one is going to win.

       When the stakes are high, zero-sum can be exciting (ball games) or humiliating and despairing (two transplant patients waiting, but there is only one liver).

        In theory we also start with the assumption all parties are equal. But in the real world one party often starts with an advantage: larger physical size, or extra wealth. Then the win/loss can be predicted ahead, which breeds cynicism (legal contests between rich and a poor) and over time these contests are degrading.

        And if these events are repeated over and over, trust is destroyed. In the long run, zero-sum exchanges are toxic because they prevent future cooperation. Applied to a society, they lead to worsening divisions. The people see that justice is replaced by might. And it destroys the common good.

        Competition is not good for all.




       Whether our economy is zero-sum is rabidly argued. The stakes are so high. It may attract little attention when two people compete for something. But if two groups, or two levels of society get into a win-loss, that could later lead to a whole section of society coming back and looking for justice. 

      The free marketer’s argument takes a different tack. It insists, freedom comes first. It claims that exchanges must be good for both parties so long as the parties are free. If everyone is free, people wouldn’t get into exchanges unless they both got something out of it. Example if you give me a dollar, I give you shoelaces. We are both satisfied, so the exchange is a win-win. It is non-zero-sum because we both feel better off.

       There may be a side competition, capitalists say, when two shoelace manufacturers vie for your business. That prods both into inventing better shoelaces, they say, and that is good for everybody.



         A lot of the time, free market capitalism is explained using those petty little examples.

         In fact, those points may be true when a person freely buys shoelaces or pencils.

         But to be more realistic, other money exchanges (rent, or wages, or medical services, or insurance) are never so free. We are seduced, or partly coerced, into an exchange, either numbed by fear of consequences if we don’t, or eased in by a contract with a small debt which later grows snowballing interest, which require us to keep paying and paying long after we realize the exchange was a bad idea. A lot of salesmanship uses a win-win teaser; later we realize it is much more like a win-loss, but we are out of choices.

       Another real world example: the item is a house. A freely-acting buyer and seller may both feel improved by the exchange. But if two house sellers are competing for one buyer, somebody is going to get hurt: supposing the losing seller needs the money to prevent foreclosure, then that example is still the machinery of free market, but not everyone will benefit. There will be despair.

       No matter what Adam Smith said, it is not good for all.

       How do economists deal with that inconvenience? By denial. Economists generally will not talk about the fear, despair or greed, or other feelings in these exchanges, referring to emotions as “externalities.” (And if there was any choice, they deny any economic coercion.)




      So we get a feel for what is being smuggled through here.  

      Above all we want to preserve a veneer of civilization. So free-market supporters endlessly talk about freedom, and deny that the economy is zero-sum. They muscularly stack the tables with economics books filled with little trade examples which are non-zero-sum. They shut out the sighs of the debt-burdened, they omit the stares of the frightened. They will not talk about exploitation.

     But Ayn Rand’s ideology is saturated in zero-sum. She reveled in that. And destroyed large parts of morality with it.

     Competition cannot be good for all. If you have a boat with people rowing toward a goal, progress is made if they all cooperate, but the boat will stop in the water if the rowers fall to fighting with each other, like a small dog-eat-dog society.

     Free market economists insist our economy benefits everybody. And we wonder about all this professional terminology. What about exchanges between management and workers? What about landlord and tenant, or rich and poor?

     Fundamentally, all we want to know: is the exchange just?

     Next, any economist who steps in on the other side, and challenges win-win faith, will attract risky attention.

     Continuing our historical sequence, the next author bluntly attacks free market dogma.




       Robert Frank argues in Luxury Fever that belief, rather than actual evidence, is running our economic policies (45). He says there is a small cluster of unshakable free market beliefs. First: the core doctrine: inequality benefits the system. Second, the belief that the top people in the hierarchy are the producers and taxing them would stifle effort and risk, and third, the belief that they do everybody good when their wealth trickles down.

       But, Frank says, Adam Smith’s invisible hand can only work for noncompetitive choices only, where a person thinks only of himself, not about others, it is “valid only in the special case in which each individuals rewards  are completely independent of the choices made by others” (46).

      Adam Smith intended his argument to be about farmers and small manufacturers who are simply minding their own affairs. Their efforts sum up, and are good for all.

      But in a dog-eat-dog, status-seeking, rivalrous world the focus is on producing an inequality. The deliberate goal is zero-sum. Says Frank, that produces no invisible hand.

      And we are awash. In fact, we have a particularly virulent form of zero-sum which is not just a two-person, but a multiple person variation. One person takes the pot and everybody else gets virtually nothing. Publishing, entertainment, and corporations are like that now: the very top writers, film stars, and CEOs are earning lottery-like money, but the middle level performers are just getting by. This type of market is spreading through society, so in broader terms, the middle class is getting hit and the poor are getting hit worse, while the few at the top are overflowing in riches. This change has been marked over the last three decades. It is a winner-take-all exchange, and it breeds stark inequalities and a relentless drive to come out on top.

      (You can also see winner-take-all behavior in microcosm, in small group games such as the Nuts Game).

      Instead of the these stark inequalities helping, they are damaging the economy. Because there is a “burgeoning empirical literature”…showing a “negative correlation  between income inequality and economic growth.”

      Winner-take-all is the opposite of trickle down. And compare the power: trickling is languid and passive; winner-take-all is combative. Frank says, “the fundamental premise of trickle down theory is not merely wrong. Rather it has matters precisely backwards”(47.)

      In The Winner Take All Society, Frank and Cook say the appearance of this type of market in America is the largest shift any society has endured without a revolution or military defeat (48).


                                                           Positional concerns


      The second contemporary economist weighing in to this dispute is Juliet Schor. In The Overspent American, she says large parts of the economy looks zero-sum (49).

       She continues: we are trained to be consumers. We ingest commercials from the age we can first watch television, and the end result is that our lives are about consuming. We learn to express ourselves by shopping. These are economic choices, but because of the way products are advertised, consuming has little to do with rational choices. They come from “postional concerns” – which is all about comparing ourselves with other people, and the struggle to rise, and the fear of falling.

        Products are sold in the media by showing owners as better people. The owner of this year’s car, mortgage or exotic vacation will be one-up, the envy of his coworkers. Appearances are everything. So people spend money on things that will make them look good by comparison. (It has no nutritional value, but Americans spend $2.5 billion a year on bottled water. In 1995 alone Americans spent $7.6 million on residential lawn care (50)).

      Advertising, Shor says, is deliberately designed to stir competitive inequality. Far from being good for everybody, consumers are making exchanges precisely because they know other people cannot afford the item. Once we get started, we push ever upward, wanting to buy things we know others can’t have. And acquiring the product never solves the problem because there are always others above us.

       Schor names the emotions. The concept of zero-sum, of course, is dispassionate. But the long-term experience of zero-sum is never so. “At some level a structure of inequality injects insecurity and fear into our psyches”(51).

      And it is not for the common good. Not one dollar of this is going for keeping up the streets or for public education.

      Positional concerns divide us against each other. They are anti-social. And the advertising industry is trying to make consuming zero-sum as hard and fast as it can.


                                                        Stuff of struggle


         This culture breathes competition. Competition fills films, fantasy, and people’s dreams. It washes the roots of beauty pageants, careers, higher education, the arts, sports and fashion. Indeed, conflict and competition are the heart of all narrative plot in this culture.

       The stuff of struggle is still what feeds our ideas of virtue: bravery, courage, persistence.

        Once upon a time, a winner was also a morally good individual. But these days goodness is no longer required. We have a mutant morality in which nobody asks a winner how he made his fortune. The only remaining moral imperative is never to be caught a loser.   

       Consequently our culture breathes inequality.

       Western civilization’s three most powerful theories about society have made inequality quite acceptable. Adam Smith’s, Malthus’s and Darwin’s work all have similar coloring. And in self-styled democracies which loudly announces that all men are created equal, these three are largely unquestioned.

        In Darwin’s theory, species also struggle mightily against natural forces. Plague and disease was everywhere, pests, droughts and other destructive weather and acts of God all made life temporary and terrifying. These forces separated the fit and the unfit. Nature usually won.

       That was man against nature, but Darwin’s theory adds this facet: the animal kingdom is made up of predators and prey. Look for the strong to exploit the weak, it is what they usually do, and that is natural; so don’t cry about injustice.

       Importantly, these theories name original causes which are beyond man’s reach. Smith’s ‘invisible fist’ was God, or something mystical. The death which befalls the prey, the misery which visits the weak - these are the peculiar ways of God, or ruthless Nature, or the gusts of Fate - under which we are powerless. It is therefore senseless to try to do anything. These theories bring a kind of fatalism.

       I argue that these theories serve a political purpose. They discourage action. They tell the reader it is futile to try to change things.

      They help us to justify continuing policies that create pain.




       Continuing a theme I started in the second essay, I now focus on Darwin’s theory, with its political meaning, because his part of the arch (from Smith to Malthus to Darwin) is already beginning to slip. Darwin’s theory, blaming misery and injustice on hostile natural forces, is in a predicament.

        The days of hostile natural forces are passing. Improvements in science, technology and medicine over the last century have eradicated most of the diseases that routinely decimated.  Most of the crop-easting pestilences which could bring a nation to starvation in a single season are now under control. Agriculture is exponentially more efficient. Cloud-seeding even hints at weather control; wild animals are no longer a danger. We build protective buildings so weather extremes don’t kill us. Of course we still suffer earthquakes and tornadoes.  But our personal biology is so well protected by new hygiene, nutrition and medications, that we no longer expect to die before our forties.

        In short, many of the routine environmental dangers are in check. What does that leave?

        Biologist R.D. Alexander in The Biology of Moral Systems says it means “… humans have become their own principle hostile force of nature. Most of the evolution of human social life, and I will argue the evolution of the human psyche, has occurred in the context of within – and between – group competition, the former resulting from the latter”(52) and  “The most pervasive hostile force that remains, for any human individual or group, is other members or groups of the human species itself,” and there is “an unprecedented level of group-against-group within species competition. It is this competition that draws us towards strange and ominous consequences”(53).




        We are our own most hostile force. That is not a new idea. Richard Dawkin’s book The Selfish Gene, loved by many a laissez-faire businessman, explains that we have serious problems with each other (54). But we should understand that politically, Dawkins is in the same camp as Ayn Rand. We’re going to eat each other alive, and now there’s a genetic justification.

      Today some of the best minds in biology are treading oh-so-cautiously around here. The academic stakes are large.

       Morality is made from how people treat one another. And politics is that social morality writ large. What we’re approaching is a genetic justification for one side of politics or the other - with the same implication: we can’t do much about it.  We will see more articles on the genetics of morality (one article has appeared justifying conspicuous wastefulness through the human evolution (55)). If we see more writing justifying predators, if sociobiologists write that democracy is not in our genes, we should understand we are in dangerous waters.

       We should keep a careful eye on these scientists.




       I selected R.D. Alexander for his radical tack. If selfishness if the problem, what is the solution?

     Trust. It is the social cement.

     Alexander says “In humans, the cement of social structures is reciprocity. This requires honesty, sincerity, trust”(56). Those would also be evolved.    

      His argument: there’s competition between groups and between communities. (A minority of biologists are arguing the group-selection way – heirs of V.C. Wynn-Edwards (57).) Obviously the group that has reciprocity and trust will do a better. It has teamwork. The group that is riddled with selfishness and competition will be divided and weak. So trust will be selected for, selfishness will selected out, and groups are fit or less fit, depending on how well their members support each other.

        Trust is the core. 

        Without trust, no well-ordered society.




       Biological theory and conservative politics have been sharing the same bed for a long time. Natural selection, as a theory, provides the powerful classes with what they want to hear.  

       But we have progressed. We have improved. We have shown our ingenuity taming the hostile environment, which is to say, we are getting Nature off our backs. But inequality and injustice are still marked, so we are still looking for causes. With our attention taken off Nature (or Providence or God), it must come back on ourselves.

      Malthus’s theory is the pivot. If it is false, then it is not the poor who are the problem.

      If Malthus’s Divine explanations are gone, if Darwin’s hostile forces fade, we are left looking at each other. The rich are, once again, part of the problem. 

      And without Fate to blame it on, we are again face to face with the realization that we can, and should do something.

      Our terrors will be back.


                                                       How inequality kills


       Next, human communities (including cities, states and nations) can be compared with each other by how unequal their members are. Some are egalitarian. Some are hierarchical. And this comparison is not a curiosity. It reveals a killer.

       I am going to describe some research that has been accumulating over the last 20 years, produced by many epidemiologists and health researchers. The findings have been replicated internationally and it has full scientific credibility. It is roundly and profoundly ignored in our commercial media. This research will be the scourge of free market theory.


                                                          Pits of mortality


      It all started with a 1977 article in the New England Journal of Medicine describing a district in Boston where life expectancy was so low and infant mortality so high, the numbers looked like rural Bangladesh (58). Another high mortality pocket was found in Harlem (59). These pits were astonishing for being in the world’s wealthiest nation.

      Health researchers began digging through masses of health data, trying for explanations. Eventually they stumbled on an odd correlation. The researchers’ surprise is evident in their early publications; they almost didn’t believe their own results and stood waiting to see if anybody else found the same thing. The replications trickled in. What they found was that people in hierarchical communities were unhealthier and living shorter lives than people in more egalitarian communities.


                                                            Robin Hood


      Researchers use different ways to measure social inequality. One is the Gini Index. It runs on a scale from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality) and in the U.S. it has been increasing steadily, and stood at 0.47 in 2005 (60). If it gets big, the Gini Index predicts social unrest (61)).

      Another measure is the Robin Hood Index. This asks, how much money would you have to take from the rich give to the poor in a community and keep doing that until everyone was equal? In communities that are mostly equal, not much. In unequal communities, a lot (62). Then you can correlate this index with anything else.

     So Bruce Kennedy and his colleagues (63) calculated the Robin Hood Index for each of the 50 states. They vary considerably, with Louisiana the most unequal, New Hampshire the most egalitarian. Next they compared the index with mortality rates. A clear correlation jumped out. By knowing the state’s degree of social inequality, you could accurately guess its mortality rates.

      Social inequality shortens lives. It also predicts other health problems, and it predicts crime rates.

    Another research group, George Kaplan and his associates, went through the archives and found income inequality correlated with all of the following: low birth weight, homicide, violent crime, work disability, expenditures for medical care and police protection, rates of smoking, unemployment rates, food stamps, and imprisonment (64).

      And this inequality is separate from the effects of poverty itself. 

      Next, John Lynch and his co-workers analyzed 282 US cities. They found if you add the ravages of poverty to the life-shortening effect of social inequality, the combination is “comparable to the combined loss of life from lung cancer, diabetes, motor vehicle crashes, HIV infections, suicides and homicides” (65).

      Is this because sick people fall to the bottom of society, causing deeper inequality? No, analysis shows the reverse. The path is from inequality to bad health.

      And if you compare nations, Robert Sapolksy shows in his Scientific American article (66),  richer nations don't have the longer life expectancies; egalitarian nations do.

      And the damage affects people at all levels of a society.

      It just seems nobody tried these correlations before.


                                                        Stress hormones


      Researchers are now looking at the inner workings. Their conclusions so far:

       What keeps people alive and healthy is friendships and social contacts. People immersed in stable relationships develop cohesive communities, and they seem to experience better health and less violence (67). These relationships involve an easy reciprocity, they also involve trust. These groups and communities are also egalitarian.  

        That should not be a total surprise. Plato once observed that equality and friendship go together.

        On the other hand, the researchers say, people living in hierarchical relationships aren’t so friendly. The inequality destroys it. And their communities are untrusting. The more vertical a relationship, the more the people are concerned about superiority/inferiority. People don’t talk to each other because they are constantly watching themselves in relation to others; they focus on who has control, and on disrespect. Mutuality and reciprocity is replaced by anxiety about status and dominance. And this chronically raises our stress hormones.  (This happens in animal groups as well as humans (68)). The chronic stress in dominance hierarchies is what eventually leads to breakdown, disease, and earlier deaths. A remarkable piece of research done by Michael Marmot in British government offices shows this even applies to hierarchy in the workplace (69).

      Researchers say high trust, cohesive groups and communities have high ‘social capital’

(70). They are the egalitarian, healthier ones. The unequal, distrusting communities have low social capital. Richard Wilkinson’s book The Impact of Inequality details these points (71). (A separate published collection of reports (72) contains the basic research.)




      Since free market practices regularly grow inequality, the free market is steadily ruining the quality of our relationships, taking away our happiness, dissolving trust, alienating us from each other and harming our health – a stunning record.  

     The lateness of this research in our history, I presume, is because these researchers, besides being scientists, are also regular people swept up in a national enthusiasm that the free market system is the best that any society has produced.

     Nobody ever thought to look for these consequences.   

     If this damage had been inflicted on us by a foreign power, it would be called an act of war.




      All this takes the heat off the environment and puts it back on us.

      There are plenty of theories to explain person-in-society. We ignore many. We teach in our schools a selection of classical ideas which justify injustice and enable greed. In particular we ignore any theory with outrage at man’s exploitation of man. Formal education leaves us with select beliefs.

       These points are worth the summary:   

        In this society the rich get richer and the poor are getting poorer and this is not a coincidence. The rich depend for their existence on the poor; the poor often pay the price of other people’s success. 

        That sets up a national contradiction. We want to know ourselves as an advanced, humane society which offers all its members the best of world conditions.

        We are taught from a very early age to accept many contradictions. In school, in their morning biology class schoolchildren learn that life is about predators and prey; biological science explains how the continual misery of some is for the common good. In the afternoon class they learn we are a nation all about justice and equality.

       Being educated into opposites is not just an oddity; it leads deep into the foundation practices of this society. If we are strong and good and happy and humane democracy, why do we have epidemic suicide rates among the young, small armies of homeless, and legions of people filling our prisons?  

       It is never said in the textbooks, but the truth is, injustice haunts us.

       Untreated, these contradictions will not cure themselves. Removing them is the first order of business, because they are dishonesties and without basic honesty, we have nothing (73). They stand in the way of our fight for future justice.

       The news media is complicit. What is news is partly a matter of fashion and controversial events, but the media is selective in very predictable ways. They lionize the rich. They avoid the poor. It is a rare news item which notes that while America is the biggest exporter of food,, hungry people walk here (74-77).

       America is not alone in this feature: many countries have great wealth next to hunger. But America prefers to see this as a technological problem. In fact, neither science nor technology will fix this (78). It is a political problem of unequal distribution. It is a political problem because hungry people are not free people. Underneath is a set of moral dilemmas, so the solution is moral.

        Next, this is an ownership society. We are accustomed to think our basic freedoms are guaranteed what we possess – material goods, particularly money and land.

       We are saturated in materialism. Materialism is psychologically unhealthy, according to research, and of course the major religions warn against it. It interferes with healthy relationships, it breeds self-centered attitudes. It also discourages abstract thinking. After two centuries of growing materialism we can understand why have subsided into a paralysis of debate. Our loss of intellectual edge, including our ability to see contradictions, can partly be blamed on it. Intellectually, we submit to wealth.

       Possessiveness also erodes community.

      We should be educating against materialism. But again here our schools are silent. Consumer spending is about 70% of the economy. If you could erase materialism, you would stop the economy.

       Poverty grows as the natural shadow of capitalism. It is futile to try to cure poverty with more capitalism.

       And if this is a nation founded on the pursuit of happiness it is perverse to use anxiety among the poor to work harder to advance profits. But this practice will spread because a virulent business ideology, Social Darwinism, is on the rise. We hear energetic political speeches on freedom, but there is also a visceral hostility against protecting the weak and poor – indeed the attitude is common that the poor need more discipline.

      That does not sound like trickle down benefits. And it does not build trust.         

      A critical sequence applies to personal relationships, work groups, communities, and social classes alike: greed destroys trust. So it drags down morality, which is a set of understandings that our neighbor will behave cooperatively and predictably. Erich Fromm’s dictum was: greed precludes peace (79). Greed is destructive because it is dog eat dog. It rips the common good.

       Capitalism has little to add to countries with healthy democracies. It damages a true democratic structure because it creates inequality. Ferguson’s theory (above) shows how this happens.

       Inequality slows down economic growth. Free market economists are desperate to refute that point. But where theory and empirical evidence do not match, one has to go. Kang Park’s cross-national study with a sample of 65 countries not only demonstrates it empirically, but finds a two-step sequence. It happens this way: the greater the inequality in a country, the greater the level of political violence. The greater the political violence, the slower the economic progress (80).

       The free market is also toxic because its advance depends on, and creates, indifference.  A democracy cannot run on indifference. Switch our focus to the well-being of persons, and the free market has to suffer.

     Democracy is fragile. We have heard relentless warnings in the media that our democracy is being threatened by foreign forces. But if we want to build democracy, we must grow it from within.

      We recognize this toxin: get a typical job, and find that you have no freedom and no say; that the day is all orders and bosses and sometimes insults and all-day strain. If you work in a profit-making business, the guiding principle is not democracy, but profit. That does not teach justice.  

      So the shadow of battle looms between humane democracy, with equality and free choices, the way the nation is defined, versus the ways of the workplace, where we spend most of our time. As the corporate style grows – with no equality and your freedom taken for a wage – will its dictatorial ways infect the rest of the nation, or will democracy overtake the ways of the workplace?

      Here we have an opportunity to make changes, and make our nation immeasurably stronger. But the outlook does not look healthy at the rate the raw power ideology is taking priority. If, year after year, we do not see democracy in the workplace, we will not notice when it is missing in our society.     

       Detachment will not help. Neither will positive thinking. We want changes.

       Instead of wealth being the highest value of this society, we want justice.

       We want our morality back.


                                                      Inevitability of inequality


       Is inequality “natural?” Is it inevitable?

       While there are no human societies that are without some social differences, there are in fact many egalitarian societies. Some are small, some are larger, complex hunter-gatherer societies. They are not industrial societies. But they should not be dismissed on that point. It was Rousseau’s original argument that only primitive communities can give us a glimpse of our ‘state of nature’ – our original way before we were corrupted by civilization (81).

       Anthropologist Christopher Boehm has published a remarkable study of 48 egalitarian societies from all continents including Hottentots, Navajo, Ngukurr Aboriginies and Cayapo (82).

       His first conclusion is that these societies are deliberately shaped by their members. Equality takes work, and it can be maintained.

       Members show ‘leveling’ behaviors towards people who try to act dominant, grab control, or who start giving out orders. This includes criticism and ridicule of bossy people, and shouting down a leader who becomes overassertive. Sometimes a leader is simply ignored or disobeyed. The !Kung have been reported to terminate extremely aggressive individuals. Other societies ostracize very dominant personalities. Among the Iban, a strongly assertive chief is simply deserted. .

       All of these behaviors are conscious. All of the societies intend equality.

       Hierarchy is not rigid and inevitable; it is plastic.

       And people in those communities, uneducated in Malthus or Darwin, are doing something about it.




      I argued earlier that large amounts of denial keep the free market system afloat. Periodic ‘discoveries’ illustrate this.

      For years, our own celebrated poverty experts have been jetting to far-away Africa to investigate, say, pitiful sub-Saharan conditions, and write about them, and loudly demand American attention and action (83).

      Meanwhile, third world-like poverty pockets in America are ignored

      Now there is a discovery, in America, of extreme impoverishment, a “deep poverty” class. An article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds about 16 million Americans now live lower than half the official poverty line (meaning a person surviving on less than $5,080 per year) and this group has jumped 26% from 2000 to 2005 – faster than any other segment of society – and this in a period of economic expansion. This is an economic sinkhole. It is extremely difficult to get out, because a person’s efforts are all spent in trying to survive. This group faces “enormous difficulties in meeting the most basic human needs”: food, clothing, housing (84).  

     The authors of this article say they could find no references to severe poverty or deep poverty in the literature. 

     If our celebrated poverty experts could first show their ability to eliminate deep poverty problems in America, we might be more willing to give donations to their foreign causes.




        Americans are “forting up”(85).

        City planners E.J. Blakely and M.G. Snyder estimate there are over 20,000 walled and gated communities in America (86). Building big, long walls is very expensive, so they are largely the mark of the upper classes. Among the very wealthy, these enclaves more likely to be fitted with video surveillance, walking guards with dogs, and manned entry points to harden the exclusion. These walls have one goal: control.

        The authors state this architecture is about fear. It is about the level of trust in our society.

        Anxiety rules. People have become preoccupied with violent crime, and the thinking inside these communities is a fortress mentality. With their surveillance cameras and concrete perimeters people want private control against the democratic “all” of the suburbs.

       Throughout history, the throwing up of walls always meant trouble is expected. Examples are the stone castles in Europe, the Great Wall of China, and the great wood-walled forts of early America. They were all built when danger was imminent.

      Are the very wealthy expecting something?

      Of course, there are differences. In mediaeval times in event of attack, the lord of the castle would gather his commoners into the castle for protection. In event of social unrest here, I doubt that the rest of us we will be invited in.

       Blakely and Snyder point out that the setting of boundaries is always a political act. In America, gated communities mean economic and social segregation. It means a splitting of the ideology of the shared American Dream into us vs. them. The gated-in have theirs, and they don’t want to be part of any larger destiny.     

       Or perhaps the gated-in have read Aristotle’s Politics, an ancient tract describing the ways of the world. In one chapter Aristotle described the great variety of revolutions, political struggles and changes. He finds “the general motive is always a passion for some conception of equality, which is held to be involved in the very idea of justice”(87).

       Building walled communities is not civic behavior. We are losing wholeness. With communities fragmented and pitted against each other, socially and economically, it is another stress on our original social contract. Divided we fall (88).

                    Supreme Court moves backwards


       Earlier I made the general point that American capitalism is just getting started on its second Big Bang, an expand-or-die wave, spreading loans, sometimes wars, and then contractors across foreign nations, which is all turned into an exponential boost to profits as our industry rebuilds those distant countries – and all in the American image.

 Capitalism’s expansion has a new dimension, more frightening for the lack of media attention.

      Currently the Supreme Court is retreating from enforcement of anti-trust laws. It is retreating from bars against monopolies and price-fixing.

      Trust-busting was born a century ago in the Gilded Age, which was the first time America experienced radial economic inequalities.

       In the late 19th century people became afraid of unchecked corporate power. The courts began punishing conspiracies between business to fix prices. Since then, we have enjoyed protection against monopolies. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandies led these improvements.  Brandeis feared big business. From 1893 until his death in 1941 he waged a loud and persistent war from the bench against businesses which were colluding to reduce competition that was injurious to the consumer and to the public interest. He opined that union power was not enough to restrain corporations, and that government had to move in. He attacked other lawyers who became tools of corporations. At various points in his opinions, Brandeis declared that big business and democracy are opposed (89).

      As late as 1975 President Ford signed into law a renewed ban on price fixing.

      But with a push from the current Administration, all that is being reversed.

     The Supreme Court now seems to be following free market theory (particularly the Chicago School) that the markets rarely fail. Federal law is being brought in line with thinking that regulation of business is bad (90).

      This is a remarkable shift.

      A decision relaxing a bar on a joint venture between Texaco and Shell, another decision allowing lumber giant Weyerhauser to buy up raw materials to put a competing mill out of business, another allowing a manufacturer of leather products to fix prices with retailers, are all examples that would have Justice Brandeis turning in his grave. But today’s court sees Brandeis’s standards as outdated.

     Mark Cooper, of the Consumer Federation of America, says “Antitrust is in a sad state in America”(91).

     The corporations never ask the public’s opinions, and these moves are not publicly advertised in advance.

      If business behemoths are allowed to build coalitions, they become entities too huge for anybody to influence. Historically, unions were the classic counter, but union power is now weakened to a low mark.

      These court decisions will shape the future. There are now few barriers to the growth of corporations.

       One thing is assured by these decisions: more inequality.






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2.  Callahan, D. The Cheating Culture   2004. NY: Harcourt Inc. Pp.13-14.

3.  Ibid. p. 278.

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6.   Ibid.  p. 142.

7.   Ferguson, A. (1767)  Essay on the history of civil society. Oz-Salzberger, F.(Ed).

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8.   Ibid.  P 242

9.   Straub, A. Interviewed in S. Mitchell, “Hemmed in by the thin greed line.” Los Angeles

      Times 9/25/05

10. Twenge, J.M. Generation me.  NY: Free Press 2006.

11. Mitchell, S. “Hemmed in by the thin greed line.” Los Angeles Times 9/25/05  P. E 4.

12. Twenge p. 5.

13. Kasser, T. The high price of materialism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2002

14. Ibid.. p 38.

15. Ibid. p 91.

16. Amato, P. R. and Rogers, S.J. (1997) A longitudinal study of marital problems and

      subsequent divorce. Journal of marriage and the family  1997, 59, 612-624.

17. Kasser, p. 88.

18. Lane, R. E.  The loss of happiness in market democracies. New Haven, CT: Yale

     University Press, 2000. p. 33.

19. Malthus, (1798)  An essay on the principle of population  London: Penguin Classics.

     1988.p. 84

20. Ibid    p. 209

21. Bonar, J. Malthus and his work  London: MacMillan, 1885. Reprinted: Whitefish, MT: 

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      by his contemporaries.

22.  Malthus  p. 12.

23   Darwin, C. (1859). The origin of species. Reprinted: NY: Gramercy Books. 1979.

24.  George, H. Progress and poverty (l879/1937) N.Y: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

       p. ix.

25.  Ibid.  p. 347

26.  Ibid. p 389.

27.  Rosenblatt, S. (2006) “More youngsters in L.A. County living in poverty.” Los Angeles

      Times, 19 October 2006,

28.  Haddad, A. (2006) “A home market that’s tight: rentals.” Los Angeles Times, 19 October

       2006, p. C1.

29. Housing and poverty report from the Weingart Center, Los Angeles:

30. Rand, A. Capitalism: the unknown ideal. New York: Signet Books, l967.

31. Rand, A. The virtue of selfishness. New York: Signet Books, l964.

32.  Rand, A. The fountainhead. New York: Signet Books, l968.

33.  Rand, A. Atlas shrugged. New York: Signet Books, l996.

34.  Walker, J. The Ayn Rand cult. Chicago, IL: Open court Publishing. 1999.

35   Ibid. p. 235

36.  Virtue of selfishness.  p 32.

37.  Walker p. 230

38.  Walker p. 288

39.  Walker p. 102

40.  Ryan, S. Objectivism and the corruption of rationality. New York: Writer Club Press.


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      IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 102.

42.  Sapolsky, R. Sick of poverty. Scientific American 2005, 293, 92-99.

43.  Ibid. p. 99

44.  Myers, D.G. Social psychology. New York: McGraw Hill, 2005. pp.528-530.

45.  Frank, R.H. (1999) Luxury fever. NY: The Free Press.

46.  Ibid.   p. 271

47.  Ibid.  p. 232

48.  Frank, R. H. and Cook, P. J. (1996) The winner-take-all-society. New York: Penguin


49.  Schor, J. B. (1998) The overspent American. NY: Harper Collins.

50.  Ibid  p. 103

51.  Ibid p. 97. 

52.  Alexander R.D. (2005) The biology of moral systems. N.J. New Brunswick: Aldine

      Transaction. p. 79.

53.  Ibid. p. 228.

54.  Dawkins, R. (1976) The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

55.  Miller G., “Waste is good.” Prospect.  February 1999. p 18-23.

56.  Alexander p .71

57.  V. C. Wynne-Edwards was an orginal genius and his work is widely rejected, largely by

       people who have never read it. His theme is quite readable in this short article: V.C.

      Wynne-Edwards, (1965) Self-regulating systems in populations of animals. Science 147:

      1543-1548 and expanded in V.C. Wynne-Edwards (1962) Animal dispersion in  relation

      to social behavior. New York: Hafner, also Evolution though group selection.

      Oxford: Blackwell

       Scientific Publications (1986).

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59.  McCord, C. and Freeman, H.P. (1990)  Excess mortality in Harlem. New England

      Journal of Medicine, 322, 173-177.

60.  The Gini coefficient of inequality is summarized in:

61.  A correlation between inequality and political violence appears when the inequality

       is chronic (extends at least 10 years). Political violence was defined as armed attacks,

      deaths from domestic violence, and internal war. K. H. Park (1986) Reexamination of

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62.  Atkinson, A.B. and Micklewright, J. Economic transformation in eastern Europe

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64.  Kaplan, G.A., E.R. Pamuck, J.W. Lynch, R.D. Cohen and J.L. Balfour, "Inequality in

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65.  Lynch, J.W., G.A. Kaplan, E.R. Pamuk, R.D. Cohen, K.E. Heck, J.L. Balfour, and

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       American Journal of Public Health 1998, 88, 1074-1080.

66.  Sapolsy, R. (2005). Sick of poverty. Scientific American, 293, 92-99.

67.  Ibid.

68.  Marmot, M. (2004). The status syndrome. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

69.  Ibid. 

70.  Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B.P. and Glass, R.  Social capital and self rated health. In

       Kawachi, I., B.P. Kennedy and R.C.Wilkinson, (Eds.) The society and population

       health reader. New York: The New Press, 1999.  Ch. 23.

71.  Wilkinson, R.G. The Impact of inequality. New York: The New Press, 2005.

72.  Kawachi, I., B.P. Kennedy and R.C.Wilkinson, (Eds.) The society and population

      health reader. NewYork: The New Press, 1999.  Ch. 23.

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74.  New York Times Almanac 2004. NY: Peguin Reference, 2003. Section: US Agriculture.

       p. 304.

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76.  Nord, M., Andrtews, M., Carlson, S. Household Food Security in the United States,
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77.  Havemann, J., and Alonso-Valdevar, R. “US poverty rate rises again in 2004.”

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78.  For more commentary on the ironies of American hunger see:

79.  Fromm, E. (1976) To have or to be?  New York: Continuum International Publishing

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80.  Park, Kang H. (1996) Income inequality and economic progress: and empirical test of the

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81.  Bair, L. (1974) The essential Rousseau. New York: New American Library.

82.  Boehm, C. (1993) Egalitarian behavior and reverse dominance hierarchy. Current

      Anthropology 1993, 34, 227-240.

83.  Sachs, J.D. “Can extreme poverty be eliminated?” Scientific American, 2005, 293,

      56-65. (Special issue, September).

84.  Woolf, S. H. Johnson, R.E. Geiger, H.J.  (2006) The rising prevalence of severe poverty

       in America, a growing threat to public health. American Journal of Preventive

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85.  Blakely E.J.and M.G. Snyder (1999) Fortress America.  Washington D C : Brookings

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86.  Ibid. p. 7.

87.  Barker, E. (Trans).(1946) The politics of Aristotle. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

88.  Blakely and Snyder. p. 175.

89.  Strum, P. (1995) Brandeis on democracy. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

90.  Savage, D. G. (2007) “Antitrust law losing its teeth” Los Angeles Times (Valley Edition)

      19 March 2007, p. A.1.

91.  Ibid. p. A.11.





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