This brings us to a standard denunciation of capitalism: greed. Bill Gates, the legendary software pioneer, reportedly once denounced a business for its lack of aggressiveness. "They have finite greed," Gates sniffed. In the movie "Wall Street" Michael Douglas famously said, "Greed is good."
Greed freaks out people like talk-show host Phil Donahue. He once told Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. "When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have-nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power -- did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed's a good idea to run on?"
Friedman responded: "Is there some society you know that doesn't run on greed? You think Russia doesn't run on greed? You think China doesn't run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy; it's only the other fellow who's greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilizations have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you're talking about -- the only cases in recorded history -- are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade."
U2 frontman Bono, the rock star, agrees with Friedman.
Bono has spent three decades raising money to alleviate poverty and combat AIDS and HIV in the Third World. In a speech last year at Georgetown University, Bono talks about his epiphany: "Rock star preaches capitalism. Wow. Sometimes I hear myself and I just can't believe it! But commerce is real. ... Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce (and) entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid. ... In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid. Free enterprise is a cure."
We end with this quote from Mark Twain: "I'm opposed to millionaires, but it would be a mistake to offer me the position."