CHANGING THE CRITERIA FOR WHO IS IMPORTANT AND ELITEOn December 19, 2008, I was forwarded a piece by Paul Krugman in the New York Times called The Madoff Economy. It describes how our culture of implicit trust in those who make a lot of money has been, in great part, responsible for our current American economic crisis. I completely agree with Krugman, but feel that he missed an important chance to offer a prescription for change, and so wrote him the following:
The key lines in your piece, "The Madoff Economy", are these: "Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis...The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing."
The problem is precisely who our culture makes important and elite. This is the focus of a commentary I just posted at:
We need to start making people important based on the soundness of their ideas, not the amount of money they make. To do otherwise is pure narcissism and delusion.
In reprinting Krugman's piece, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sub-titled the piece "Just because someone's rich doesn't mean he's smart". This meshes interestingly with my previous commentary in response to the question "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?". Our culture badly needs to break through the illusion that monetary wealth in and of itself signifies wisdom in its owner.