Moral Compass

Ooo! Evil Goldman Sachs! Evil, nasty, money-grubbing Goldman Sachs! They’re just in it for the money. And did I mention evil?

OK, I’m getting really tired about how people are demonizing Goldman Sachs specifically and Wall Street generally. Demonizing Wall Street is a transparent attempt of the Obama administration to discredit them and drum up yet another crisis. And once they have properly ginned up this crisis, then government will ride up on its white horse and “fix” the crisis by taking control over the financial sector of the economy. And every time people like cartoonist Bruce Beattie demonize Goldman Sachs, they play into the power-grabbing government’s hands.

But it’s clear to me that Beattie doesn’t understand the nature of business. Goldman Sachs isn’t in business to do some moral good. It’s in the business of making money because making money is what businesses do. Businesses that don’t make money just don’t last long as businesses.

Do you think Apple makes iThis and iThat because it loves the public, or does it do it because it loves the revenue that comes from each sale? Obviously, it is the latter. And it is precisely the love of profit that drives Apple to improve and innovate their products to the benefit of people. Adam Smith explained it centuries ago, and it is just as true today.

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

Yes, a business has a moral compass, and it points towards money. That’s what a business does, and if it is successful in achieving money, it has done so by pleasing and benefiting people. If a business has done something illegal, then the government certainly should step in to enforce the law. But just making money isn’t illegal, regardless of President Obama saying, ” I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

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