[consulting] Returning to a solution

Domenic Santangelo domenic at workhabit.com
Mon Aug 10 20:36:53 UTC 2009

Sheryl wrote:
> Judging by how much Americans
> spend on junk and how little they save for retirement, I'd say that acting
> against self-interest is the dominant behavior.

Your example is good but the conclusion arguable. I think this behavior 
in fact proves self-interest (if we define self-interest as "what's good 
for me, /right now/" or "being greedy"). If someone in America fails to 
plan for retirement, they know that the Government will provide for them 
(albeit at a minimal level), or their family members will kick in, and 
so forth. In this sense, they're acting almost purely out of greed and 
self-interest -- I'll spend my money on the things I want today, and let 
society/my family worry about me later. I would go as far as to say that 
planning for your own later years is /less/ self-interested if one of 
your main motivators is "I don't want to be a burden on my children," as 
it is for many.

A quote from "The Wealth of Nations":
"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, 
that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self 
interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their 
self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their 


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