Originally posted February 26, 2013.
Of all the books you want to read this year, be sure you make some time for The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope, by John Allison. You’ll get into the mind of one of today’s great thinkers. John Allison gives you the inside scoop on what really happened during the financial crisis.
Mr. Allison had a front-row seat. For example, as president of BB&T, he describes how the government strong-armed his bank to participate in TARP even though it didn’t even need the money.
You’ll also read about the virtues of being selfish. It’s a belief in stark contrast to the government’s mantra of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. I’ll share one of my favorite parts with you here about how kids are made to feel bad for being selfish.
In fact, a very commonly held belief in our culture today is that as human beings, we are born bad— because we are selfish, and being selfish is bad. We learn this belief at a young age.
Johnny, age three or four, is in the sandbox playing with his truck. He is not bothering anybody. He is having a good time playing with his truck. Along comes Fred. Fred would like to have Johnny’s truck. Johnny does not want to give Fred his truck. A discussion and then an argument ensues. Mom, Dad, or the kindergarten teacher gets involved in the discussion. Mom says, “Johnny give that truck to Fred. You must share. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be bad.”
Two great moral lessons are being taught right there in the sandbox. The first lesson: where did Fred get the right to Johnny’s truck? This lesson from the sandbox is the moral justification for our social welfare system. Johnny has a truck. I do not have a truck. I want Johnny’s truck. Why should Johnny have a truck when I do not have one? Johnny is greedy. He is selfish. He is bad. Give me his truck. I will vote for Barney Frank. He will get me a truck from that greedy Johnny.
How about the moral lesson for Johnny? (And the people who are reading this book are far more likely to be Johnny than to be Fred.) What lesson did he learn? Do not go for what you want. Other people’s needs are more important than yours. You must consider others as being more important than yourself. After all, Fred “needed” that truck. Your life is secondary. Everyone else’s “need” is more important than your life.
It is interesting to reflect objectively on the concept of selfishness. An immutable, nonnegotiable law of nature is: everything that is alive must act in its own self-interest or die. This is how Mother Nature designed the system.
If you want more great insight like this from John Allison, read the book. But don’t just take my word for it. “Required reading.… Shows how our economic crisis was a failure, not of the free market, but of government,” says Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO, Koch Industries, Inc.