Dear readers get a break today.
We’re on our way back to the USA. No time to check the markets…
Here’s something for the “miscellaneous” file, something we found in the paper this morning:
A team of Canadian researchers wanted to know if people who bought “green” products were nicer than other people. They did a study of it and came to the conclusion, as reported in The Financial Times, that “those who bought supposedly ethical products were more likely to lie, cheat and steal and less likely to take the chance to be kind.”
From this, they drew the wrong conclusions. They came to believe that there was a finite amount of niceness in the world and that those who take the trouble to buy ethical products use up much of their allotted stock.
Of course, even horrible people can be nice. And nice people can be horrible. After all, Hitler was nice to his secretaries and his dogs. But that doesn’t mean that those who are nice to their secretaries and their dogs have to incinerate Jews and gypsies. Or even yell at waiters.
Where the researchers and commentators go wrong is in the beginning. They think that buying an ‘ethical’ mutual fund…or a ‘green’ car…is a form of being nice. It is nothing of the sort. It is a substitute for being nice. Being nice is not always easy. Many people have a hard time with it. Others judge it not worth the effort…or even counterproductive. Niceness was probably as useless to Attila the Hun as virtue is to a prostitute or integrity is to a politician.
Still, most people manage to be nice most of the time…and a few – including our own mother – manage to do it practically all the time. We have never heard our mother say a word that wasn’t nice. She has never had an unkind thought, as near as we can tell.
Nice people don’t have to pretend to be nice by buying supposedly ethical products. They are nice; that’s what counts to them. The person who buys ethical products, on the other hand, is a scalawag and a hypocrite. He is not really nice at all, which is what the researchers really discovered.
“Love afar is spite at home,” wrote Emerson. He was talking about people who are nice to mother earth…but nasty to their own mothers. Or people who are nice to ‘humanity’…but mean to their next-door neighbor. Or people who whine about starving children they have never seen and ‘underprivileged’ people they hope they’d never have to meet. He was talking about people who buy a cup of “fair trade” coffee and don’t leave a tip…
Emerson knew there was no limit on niceness. He was talking about dreadful people who weren’t nice. The do-gooders. The meddlers. The improvers. The health care Democrats. And the “no child left behind’ Republicans. He was talking about all the bleeding hearts whose own hearts are as black and hard as a lump of coal.
Speaking of health care…this, from Ron Paul:
Following months of heated public debate and aggressive closed-door negotiations, Congress finally cast a historic vote on healthcare late Sunday evening. It was truly a sad weekend on the House floor as we witnessed further dismantling of the Constitution, disregard of the will of the people, explosive expansion of the reach of government, unprecedented corporate favoritism, and the impending end of quality healthcare as we know it.
Those in favor of this bill touted their good intentions of ensuring quality healthcare for all Americans, as if those of us against the bill are against good medical care. They cite fanciful statistics of deficit reduction, while simultaneously planning to expand the already struggling medical welfare programs we currently have. They somehow think that healthcare in this country will be improved by swelling our welfare rolls and cutting reimbursement payments to doctors who are already losing money. It is estimated that thousands of doctors will be economically forced out of the profession should this government fuzzy math actually try to become healthcare reality. No one has thought to ask what good mandatory health insurance will be if people can’t find a doctor…
Finally, a dear reader from India writes:
India is a very exciting place. Although I am Indian by origin, I made a choice to relocate here because of the opportunities I see.
India will give you the feeling of a true, bottom-up free market. Free markets are chaotic, messy and “unplanned” because they are organic. They are driven by the needs of people, seeking their own aspirations and self interest and are not driven by the needs of some megalomaniac government.
The infrastructure will come, it will come as people will pay for it because someone needs to profit from it. I don’t think you will see too much of “build it and they will come” in India. So no maglev trains in India for now.
Having said that, I think that India will go through its cycles as any free market does. To that end, I think that the risk-reward in the equity markets in India is turning unfavorable for the next couple of quarters. The global demand-supply balance in REAL goods and services was altered in a big way by the financial crisis. The full impact of the shift has not been felt by companies.
I foresee, tremendous pain for companies throughout the world as they come to terms with a world driven by demand weakness in the US, Europe and Japan (and now a potential bubble burst in China).
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