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A thought on greed before bed

December 25, 2010

Depending on which libertarian one asks, my employment by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the most or least libertarian thing I could possibly do, or it falls somewhere in between. Anyhow. I worked on the 24th and, in my area, Wal-Mart was the last store to close (8 p.m.). A few of my co-workers attributed the late night on Christmas Eve to greed, which has regrettably become an acceptable explanation. In reality, the explanation exhibits a misunderstanding of the market and conflates greed with self-interest.

The market does not generate or mitigate greed and selfishness; it is an open field where individuals freely interact and exchange to meet and fulfill desires as best they can. Whether individuals pursue virtue or vice in the market is individual choice, as the market connects individuals rather than controls individuals. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” The situation is no different with socialism than with the free market: the market does not guide morality, it is a platform for individuals to act on their desires.

Would I choose to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas? Doubtful. However, any business remaining open on a holiday is supplying the interested public with its goods and/or services, an attempt to supply the demand of individuals. If the only motive prompting a business to remain open on a holiday is its owner’s moral flaw of greediness, long live vice so long as business owners continue to place the material well-being of customers above their morality.

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