It's interesting that when people talk about free markets, they so often quote that line from the movie Wall Street: "Greed is good." I recently read an essay by Stanley Weiser, who wrote the screenplay for Wall Street, explaining that he never understood why "Greed is good," became a such rallying cry for capitalists. After all, the character who makes that pronouncement ends up in jail by the end of the movie. And Adam Smith wasn't in favor of greed either. His theory was that economies tend to benefit as a whole when individuals are given the freedom to pursue their separate self interests. But as we pointed out in our program, The Buddha in the World, Adam Smith also wrote about the dangers of materialism:
"Power and riches....are enormous machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniences to the body. They are immense fabrics, which it requires the labor of a life to raise, which threaten every moment to overwhelm the person that dwells in them, and which, while they stand, can protect him from none of the severer inclemencies of the season. They keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much and sometimes more exposed than before to anxiety, to fear and to sorrow, to diseases, to danger and to death."
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