Still no sign of a free lunch

This comment from Mike on an Antiplanner post seemed worth repeating:

“Selfishness” is a virtue when it means rational self-interest, or to put it another way “rational egoism.” The rational egoist understands that benefits come with costs; they recognize that TANSTAAFL. The rational egoist acts in accordance with his or her long-term best interests, which may require the individual to forgo immediate pleasure or comfort. Past generations understood this because there was no immediacy of media entertainment or immediacy of revolving credit or ubiquity of 24-hour-a-day goods and services. They had to save up if they wanted something, and bargain for it at arm’s length. In our society’s admirable effort to truly democratize communications and so create the “eternal now,” the notion that one must plan ahead and accept prerequisite costs in money and time has fallen by the wayside.

In the otherwise forgettable movie In the Line of Fire, the villain tells a group of financial brokers “American CEOs plan to deliver good numbers after the next quarter. Japanese CEOs plan to deliver great numbers after the next quarter-century.”

That’s how you know the villain in a financial movie: he’s the guy who tells you the truth. Before Gordon Gekko ever said “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” he said this:

Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated.

I have no idea if this is why they named a reptile after him.

1 comment

  1. Charles Pergiel »

    12 January 2010 · 2:18 am

    “In the Line of Fire” came out in 1993. I thought it was only a couple of years ago. 17 years though, that’s just freaky.

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