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Unread December 7th, 2008, 04:56 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Bellingham, Washington
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Default Don't Just Blow Away Smoke--Put Out the Fire!

"Why Wall Street Always Blows It," by Henry Blodget, in the December 2008 issue of The Atlantic, side-steps the humility of personal responsibility, by proposing that "everyone" is to blame for the current financial disaster. The author takes refuge in the assumption of a natural and inevitable self-interest in all people, without contemplating the potential for overcoming that egocentricity. The root of the problem, as well as the solution, is not simply adjusting our economic habits by saving more and spending less, but breaking the psychological glass ceiling of self-interest and aspiring to a new philosophy of enlightened mutual-interest. The Wall Street dream of retiring at 40 reflects a larger American dream of making money without improving the common welfare.

Nearly a century ago, psychiatrist Alfred Adler pointed out that the only road to genuine security and significance for individuals and groups is through social contribution. If we look behind the obsessive accumulations of wealth, as well as the widespread desire for gaining wealth without contributing real social value, we often find the uncertainty of personal value hiding behind a facade of financial worth. After we blow away the financial smoke by implementing economic first aid, we could address the psychological root: encouraging people to transcend the archaic assumption of self-interest and pursue a higher purpose of mutual benefit through contribution. The deeper meaning of democracy is not merely the freedom to pursue personal gain, but to provide for the common good. Imagine a world where this value is reflected in relationships, families, schools, businesses, religious organizations, and government. For an amplification of this perspective, read "A Psychology for Democracy" at
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D,

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Last edited by Henry Stein; February 27th, 2010 at 11:06 AM. Reason: Corrected URL
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