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Money is the New Morality

Money is the New Morality

    The traditional view of money-vs.-morality is that you want to start with a moral foundation and then you can pursue making money in a way that makes the world better. You treat your employees and customers well, act honestly, and perhaps even donate your wealth to those in need.

    That was a good model. I think it served the United States well in its formative years. You can’t have capitalism without some level of trust, especially in earlier times, and morality in the form of religion provided a form of predictable honesty.

    But today that situation is flipped because of the Internet and the free flow of information.

    Today, morality is not limited to what your neighbors are doing. Now we look at the entire globe and see that morality is subjective. In ISIS-held territory it means beheading innocent people. To you it might mean donating time at a homeless shelter. Those are the extremes, but the point is that your neighbor has a different idea of morality. He’s hitting the bong and climbing on top of his friend-with-benefits while you’re in church. The Internet allows us to see just how subjective morality is. Or to put it another way, morality is mostly magical thinking that had utility in earlier times but now seems quaint.

    Luckily we have a better substitute for morality in 2015. It’s called capitalism, social media, and the Internet. Now if you treat others poorly you lose customers, lose job prospects, and lose social options. Capitalism is doing what morality once did – keeping people in line.

    So when you accuse me of putting money above morality (which I do all the time) it’s not because I’m possessed by Satan. It’s because you get a better result in the year 2015 by being smart in business than you do by being morality-driven. 

    If you want to be good to your fellow humans, just make some money and give it to people that need it. That works every time. 

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