Capitalism as Charity

There’s so much good about this article. First of course, is the water filter. I want one. And the generator. But second, the capitalism: let’s make these people rich, so we can sell stuff to them.

“We believe Coca-Cola’s business can only be as healthy as the community it is part of, so the well-being of the community is important to our long-term strategy,” says Derk Hendriksen, the general manager of the Ekocenter program. Notably, the company won’t directly profit from the program; each “downtown in a box” will operate as a standalone business run by a local entrepreneur, typically a woman, selected and trained by Coke. (That the soda giant enjoys an image boost in the process goes without saying.)

I can’t find it online, but there’s an anecdote about Milton Friedman debating Ayn Rand on altruism, where he said that if altruism is a deep and abiding concern of one man for the needs of his neighbor, then no one is more altruistic than an honest businessman, because his entire livelihood comes from finding ways to benefit his neighbor. If he can’t find a way to give his neighbor something that is more valuable to him than the cash in his pocket, the businessman has to close up shop.

And here you have a case in point.

I’m not sure what to do with the giant close-up picture of the inventor at the front. If I ever become famous and need to get my picture put up everywhere, I’m going to have to find a way around getting weird pictures taken of me.

Cafe Hayek: Just Nonsense

Just Nonsense.

A faithful Cafe patron sent me this link to a Huffington Post essay by Mary Bottari. I read it, and have nothing specific to say save that it’s nonsense from top to bottom – nonsense of a sort that elicits no reply given that not the faintest whiff of reason wafts through the essay.

Anyone who finds insight in such an essay has as much hope of being reasoned with as a tree stump has of being taught to tap dance.

I confess to suffer occasionally the urge to address every such absurdity that crosses my path. And I sincerely appreciate the Cafe patron sending to me the above link. But some such ravings – such as the above – are simply too ridiculous.

I have on my shelf an unabridged copy of the 1001 Arabian nights. In volume 2, and overlapping into volume 3 is a series of stories about a war between Islamic Persia and the Eastern Roman Empire. It’s actually pretty fascinating to see what kind of romantic tales the evil Saracens where telling about *us* in the 10th and 11th centuries. Somewhere in there, though, we’re enlightened by a description of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the evilest wizard of them all. We are assured he uses black magic with holy scripture and his own feces in order to carry out nefarious plots, often bringing young maidens into indelicate positions, in order to undermine the very will to fight of the righteous armies of Allah. Or something like that.

There’s something of that kind of storytelling in Mary Bottari’s description of Milton Friedman. Black magic, indeed.