Monday, 27 January 2014

The morality of free markets, capitalism and self interest

Last year I had the very great pleasure of hearing the Ayn Rand Memorial Lecture at the Adam Smith Institute, delivered by Lars Seier Christensen, Co-Founder of Saxo Bank.

I was reminded of this today, when I read about Labour's plans for taxation. I also read Owen Jones' 'Agenda for Hope' (aka Agenda for Ruination), in addition, this particular Tweet caught my eye:
I will be honest, it stopped me in my tracks. I found it completely terrifying. He really believes that he (through the state) has a right to other people's money*.

And so I was reminded of Christensen's speech. His is an important message, and one we should all be spreading whenever we get the opportunity.

It's a long one, but extraordinarily inspiring. A transcript is available here, though I would urge you to find the time to listen to it properly.

I've selected a few quotes, to give you a bit of a flavour. I won't claim these are the most important bits, as the whole thing is important!

"Full blown socialism doesn’t work at all, and lesser degrees of socialism restrict to a higher or lower level the creation of growth and prosperity."

Saxo Bank's company statement includes its values, modelled on Atlas Shrugged - rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productivity and pride - and based on these:

"You may not be guaranteed a successful career or a great life – accidents, illness or other random elements may interfere – by applying the values to your work, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone could live successfully if he or she continuously disregards and violates these values."

"Pick-a-winner, corporate social responsibility, employment rules, affirmative action, the creation of fictional jobs and plain political popularity and obedience will then rule who prospers and survives in all industries, not just banking. Beware of this development,  for it is poison to capitalism and growth and to prosperity for all of you."

"We need to change the values, the morality and the misunderstandings, and to undermine the deliberate lies our politicians feed the electorate about what constitutes solidarity, justice and the common good. Is it solidarity to make people into losers and victims and leave them totally unable to care for themselves? Is the common good to stop businesses and investors from creating wealth and prosperity? Is it justice to regulate every aspect of a normal person’s life and continuously monitor his every move?"

*Note: I'm terrified and I'm not even rich. Or a high earner. Or anything really. I just think people's property is THEIR property. 

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