Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Role of Trust in Prosperity

The financial collapse is getting people to think about the human factors and values that underpin our formal economic structures. Anne Applebaum writes in Slate that gigantic frauds like Bernie Madoff's add up to make people far more suspicious and thus make it more difficult to conduct business. I was amused by this line:

"In other cultures—maybe most other cultures—very rich people are suspect by definition. Recently, I met a wealthy Russian and automatically assumed he was the beneficiary of some shady scheme: How else would someone from that part of the world get rich?"

There are plenty of people who automatically distrust / disdain the very rich here in America too, and not without reason.

Her line also put me in mind of a quote I read recently in one of my favorite magazines.

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

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