Evolution of Greed
The evolution of humans has taken millions of years. As a result of natural selection, we now stand at the pinnacle of evolution. Despite our evolutionary position, we are not without predators. Our major natural predators are fast-mutating bacteria. These bacteria, capable of mutating and evolving in only a few weeks, are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, while using our bodies and the environment to spread. The simplicity of these predators is their strength. There is a social lesson in this biological reality. The greatest risk to America lies in those that would abuse our social, political and economic system from within. Financial engineering, and not product development, drives the decision making in all too many of America's corporations.
In the past, the biological principles of natural selection have been misapplied to social, political, and economic reality. "Social Darwinism" was used as a justification of class stratification. Sadly, those who attacked Social Darwinism were often ignorant of the biological truth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution and did not understand that acceptance of one did not lead to acceptance of the other. The infamous Scopes Monkey Trial pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow. Bryan, a defender of a literal interpretation of the Bible, won the support of evangelicals. Darrow, a defender of evolution, earned the support of scientists and supporters of academic freedom. Rightfully, history has been kinder to Darrow than Bryan. Lost in this truth, however, is that much of Bryan's motivation in prosecuting the case was an admirable desire to stunt Social Darwinism.
Over 75 years later, science is still fighting politicians playing the God card to appeal to the masses. I offer as evidence Joe Lieberman's sad performance in response to the 9th Circuit Court's decision that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violated the constitutional protections separating Church and State. A simple deletion of these two words, added in 1954 by Congress, would return the Pledge to its place in schools and other government-affiliated settings. Without this phrase, America countered its greatest threat ever, the threat of fascism in the 1940s. Lieberman, jumping on an opportunity to get on his moral high horse, claimed that "there may have been a more senseless, ridiculous decision issued by a court somewhere, but I've never heard of it." Senator Lieberman has lost his memory, his intellectual compass, or both. Lieberman would have a hard time convincing me that he never heard of Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, or George W. Bush v. Albert Gore, Jr.—the decision that kept Lieberman out of the Vice Presidency and that is responsible for putting American prosperity and freedom at risk today.
Business works best when it develops products that people need. Our economic system worked well in fostering the growth of the computer industry. That industry developed and distributed its products to more people faster than any industry ever by turning free great minds and allocating to them the necessary financial resources. Competion in this industry benefitted mankind in unimagined ways, not the least of which is the democratization of information.
Now, our social, political and economic landscape is littered with greed, not need. Many of America's largest corporations, invaded by greed, are on Reagan's "ash heap." Why? America forgot that the evolution of any complex system requires real checks and balances. Instead, these checks and balances—the accountants, independent directors, bankers, politicians—ere infested with the bug of greed that had already consumed the senior management of corporate America. America's caretakers, those who so often climbed the bully pulpit to praise rising CEO pay ratios, obscene stock options, and the concentration of wealth, sold their souls for a buck. Do any of these men and woman really believe that soldiers gave their lives so the elderly could live in poverty while the rich got richer? Do they believe that working men and women should be satisfied with the praise of beer and truck commercials and post-September 11 memorials? Do they really believe that economic security for working men and woman is un-American? Do they not know that their greed is a greater threat to America than any threat from outside terrorists?
Who will be the leader that tells this truth? Who will be the leader that reigns in the CEO class, the "New Robber Barons"? It won't be George W. Bush and it won't be Joe Lieberman.
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