The University Near Here manages to make me sad again with
of something called the "Future Leaders Institute". Subtitle: "A Summer
Camp for Ambitious High-School Students." It will run July 14 through
What will our Ambitious Future Leader High-School Students be doing at
camp? Whittling? Canoeing? Learning how to recognise different types of
trees from quite a long way away?
Nah. The camp's theme is "Money, Greed, Corruption." It doesn't
sound like the Future Leaders will be learning any useful wilderness
skills, or having much fun at all. The curriculum will be set up
by faculty members of the Paul College of Business and Economics…
no, sorry, I'm kidding. It will be run by R. Scott Smith,
Associate Professor of Classics, and Nick Smith, Associate Professor of
Philosophy, both of UNH's College of Liberal Arts (COLA).
Let's take a look at the
program description, commenting as we go:
We tend to have mixed feelings about money.
What they actually mean to say: different
people hold wildly different opinions
Ayn Rand once described money as the "root of all good."
She did! Or rather, one of her Atlas Shrugged good guys
did. His speech is reproduced here.
Karl Marx (following 1 Timothy 6:10 and a host of ancient thinkers)
thought money was closer to the "root of all evil."
You see where we're going with this: it's gonna be
Rand vs. Jesus, Marx, and a "host of ancient thinkers." Good luck, Ayn.
[1 Timothy, by the way, is also well-known for being the epistle where
Apostle Paul advocated that women shut
up and know their place and advised
slaves to be respectful to their masters. Bible-thumpers pick and choose which parts
of the book to thump.]
Money provides a near universal common denominator that allows people on
opposite sides of the world to exchange things of value with great
Stipulated. Not even Francisco d’Anconia would disagree. But:
Money drives so much in our lives and it motivates us, for better or for
worse, to do things we wouldn't otherwise do.
Confused drivel. All incentives, including economic ones,
can lead us to make different choices than we would
otherwise. That is the definition
But the paycheck is not the goal, it's not in the driver's seat; it's what the
paycheck allows us to do. (Francisco: "[Money] will give you the means for
the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with
Money can eclipse other values.
Confused thinking ⇒ sloppy writing.
Money is not a value. I think they mean to say: money can motivate
people to perform acts at odds with their values and preferences ("You
couldn't pay me a million dollars to do that. Well, you probably could.")
Politicians are corrupted by love of money; business leaders make
selfish decisions to raise profits—and boost their own bank accounts;
even religious leaders fall victim to greed.
Gee, for guys who like to quote scripture, I really think they should
have paid more attention to Matthew
A brave stand against (unnamed)
corrupt politicians! Hey, I won't defend them.
Although I'd wager
far more politicians are corrupted by their love of coercive
state power than by love
of money. Good luck getting a couple of Liberal Arts profs to
even recognize that, let alone preach against it.
And the (also unnamed) greedy religious leaders? No doubt. Hey, we're
all sinners. But judging by recent headlines, seven-deadly-sinwise,
pretty far down the list, with "lust"
a clear favorite among modern pastors
But the guys in the middle, there between the pols and priests:
those (again, unnamed) businessmen are guilty of nothing except
attempting to run their businesses more profitably than a couple
of COLA profs think they should. It's difficult to work up any
outrage, or even concern, about that at all.
For some, money is the most valuable possession of all.
I suppose it's possible, but so what?
Presumably we're talking about something more
portentious than Sophie
Tucker's (alleged) observation: "I've been
rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better."
But the image the "most valuable of all" assertion brings to mind
is Scrooge McDuck's daily swim in his
Money Bin. Perhaps the profs think that Warren Buffett or Bill Gates
actually do that.
Money can fuel greed and corruption as moral beliefs give way to the
view that all is fair in moneymaking. How often do we hear that it is
"just business" when people treat each other as means to the end of
The honest answer to that question is: "Not often at all. Maybe never."
Note (by the way)
that the weak "fuel" analogy actually cuts against the attempt to
blame things on eeevil money. When bank robbers vamoose in their
getaway car, sane people do not blame the gasoline in the car's tank.
So, how can one live a good life and be a good citizen in such a
Good question, although you could usefully generalize by leaving
off the prepositional phrase. People that blame a "money-hungry world"
for their own poor life choices are irresponsible losers.
Skipping past some boilerplate, we have the movies that may be shown
around the campfire:
Inside Job, Too Big to Fail, The Corporation, The Wolf of Wall
Street, Atlas Shrugged, Wall Street, Roger and Me
It's nice of them to include a mediocre adaptation of Ayn Rand's book
in the otherwise uniform anti-capitalist businessmen-are-scum
I understand The Wolf of Wall Street is pretty good anyway.)
How about The
Pursuit of Happyness?
Looking at "Potential Authors":
Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Aristotle, Plato, Seneca, Karl Marx, Georg
Simmel, Christine Lagarde (IMF leader)
Could be worse. Milton Friedman is
a strong choice. I wonder if Christine Lagarde is there as
an author who's got something interesting to say, or an example
Here's one bit I left out. From up at the top of the page:
Yes, they are charging money to tell the kiddos how awful money is. (Is this
irony? I can never tell.)
I'll close with the final paragraph of Francisco's speech, linked above:
Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you
ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which
men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood,
whips and guns–or dollars. Take your choice–there is no other–and your
time is running out.
I'd put the whole thing on the Ambitious Future Leaders High-School
Students' required reading list. In fact, I'd be happy to give
a dramatic reading of it for the AFLHSS this summer. And to show
what a money-loving greedy selfish bastard I am: I would do it for