Greed twists eternal in the human breast
But the market has no brain
It doesn’t love it’s not God
All it knows is the price of lunch
-Bruce Cockburn, You’ve Never Seen Everything (2003)
Somewhat unintentionally, my visit to Brazil this time has been a very thoughtful event. I have had very enlightening conversations about the seasonal ‘EI’ workers in Rio de Janeiro (sounds a lot like New Brunswick, I’ll tell you the story sometime), corruption, self-sufficiency, profits, markets and culture.
All content for future blogs, I guess. But after a marathon session of Bruce Cockburn on my Ipod I remain convinced that artists play a critical role in ensuring we think about life beyond the purely economic. In Maslowian terms, self-actualization is not an economic construct.
It would be a bland world without open criticism and ultimately one where power would be abused.
I don’t like it one bit when people distort facts, drag reputations through the dirt and do just about anything else to manipulate public opinion but it remains a fundamental part of the society I want to live in.
Ultimately good ideas will win in the end. If they don’t, that is the price we must pay in a democratic and open society.
I believe in the critical role of markets to facilitate economic transactions. I believe in the role of profits to incentivize hard work, innovation and risk-taking. But I do not believe these two in and of themselves are enough to have the kind of society I want to live in.
I want to live in a society where there is no grinding poverty – even if it requires straight income transfers. I want to live in a society with little crime even if we have to carve off more of our income to make it happen. I want to live in a place where entrepreneurs can thrive and willingly turn back some of their wealth into the community.