Monday, November 22, 2010

Hard-wired Dana and the S.E.C.

In the NYTimes today I read, "The S.E.C. (Security and Exchange Commission) is considering making stock and insurance brokers put their customers' interests first."

Who could be against this rule? Maybe the stock and insurance brokers. Maybe me.

The problem, as I see it, is that it would encourage too much trust in these guys (and gals). And trust that has not been earned. I'd rather put it out there that stock and insurance brokers are very interested in making lots of money and you should expect that, and carefully chew on everything they tell you.

One of the best teachers I've know hated his job and just did it for the money. But he knew his stuff and knew how to teach. As long as the money came in, he did a great job.

Here's the original article by Milton Friedman where he wrote that the social responsibility of business is to make a profit. This is probably the most controversial and least understood statement that he made.

Continuing on the theme of dana (Buddhist for giving), I heard some interesting facts about ants yesterday.

1) They feel and smell through their feelers.

2) They have two eye sockets, each containing lots of eyes. (Imagine what things must look like!)

3) When they find food, they leave a scent trail so others can find it.

4) They have two stomachs, one for themselves and one for their buddies.

I wonder what we have that is for the benefit of all beings? Are we hard-wired for generosity? How?

8 comments:

Kate Freeman said...

Who could be against this rule? --- Mr. Kim

How is the S.E.C. making stock and insurance brokers put their customers’ interest first? I don’t know how to be for or against something that makes no sense.

The problem, as I see it, is that it would encourage too much trust in these guys (and gals). And trust that has not been earned. --- Mr. Kim

I still don’t get it. I feel like you are suggesting that if the S.E.C. does something (still don’t know what that something is) to make it so that stock brokers are less able to rip people off, people will trust them more than they do now and be more likely to get ripped off? That’s weird. You can completely distrust someone and still get ripped off. And just because something (still unsure of the thing) was done by the S. E. C., it in no way affects the level of trust I place in ‘stock brokers’. As far as I know, it just makes it so I can sue them easier when they rip me off.

I would like to point out that there is ‘profit’ and there is ‘profit’. I encourage the individual who made the company a profit by reducing the amount of pollution sent into the waste stream by selling said pollution to a company who neutralizes it and uses it to make another product. Kudos. I don’t encourage the individual who decided to ensure a larger profit margin for share holders by using slave labor.

I would also like to point out that I still believe that there are people in the world who do not have ‘profit’ as their main motivator. This in no way implies that I don’t want to get paid. It just means that getting paid is not the thing that is first (or even second) on my mind as I perform tasks.

Kim Mosley said...

It is hard to imagine where there is not a conflict-of-interest when one person earns money helping another. Sometimes there is more integrity than other times, but if both parties are not "beware" there is bound to be problems. And, as Kate notes, even when they are aware there may be problems.

Yes, some's "profit" (gain) might not be the primary motivator. Or maybe, sometimes "satisfaction" is a bigger motivator than $$$.

Kate Freeman said...

Satisfaction can be a motivator. Fear is also a motivator. I think a lot a people are motivated by fear.

For example, in the Bhopal disaster many people knew that cutting back on certain safely maintenance saved money. That’s why it was done. Profit was a motivation in this decision. But also fear was a motivation that allowed these kinds of decisions to stand. Workers were afraid of losing employment (livelihood, security, etc.) and they therefore didn’t speak against certain actions they didn’t feel good about. And there were people who were fired for speaking against these cost cutting measures.

One might also argue that lack of an alternative action might have just motivated this disaster along more than fear or even profit.

I would say that for the most part, fear is the biggest motivator of people around me. Nobody is motivated by profit. People are scraped to make house payments. You have to bust even before you can seek profit. Most people I know are in the hole. They are motivated by fear. Fear of losing their job. Fear of losing their house. Fear of terrorist attacks. Fear of overbearing government. Fear of war.

Hell, I’m commenting on your website because my normal Monday night gig was canceled because people were afraid of a maybe approaching storm. (One hour later. . . no storm). People are scared.

So anyway. . . Is the market running the way it does because people are happily seeking profit which in the end benefits us all . . . or because they are too damn scared to test an alternative way of being.

Kim Mosley said...

Fear as a motivator... I like that. Tonight in my Zen Class one of the teachers spoke about how want people to notice us, but we are afraid that they will really see us. Another two-edged sword.

As to what drives people, there seems to be as many theories as people. Maybe in the end it is a combination (sex, power, meaning, fear, etc.).

I'm just not sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. How can you tell?

Kate Freeman said...

I'm just not sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. How can you tell? --- Mr. Kim

The guy with his boot on your throat. . . He’s the bad guy.

Kim Mosley said...

Not so fast. Suppose you were someone prone to deliver evil, and the man with his boot on your throat was preventing that. Judging is a difficult business.

Kate Freeman said...

Nope. Still evil. You are just rationalizing away his evil deed.

Anonymous said...

Mr Kim is a deep thinker. H.