Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creation Myths

Prof Harari points out that civilizations tend to develop hierarchies. Technological changes produce surpluses and some small group manages to grab up all the surplus, while the great mass of the populace is immizerated. A lot of religious and cultural energy is expended on justifying this state of affairs. Hindus, he says, have some creation myths where the privileged were created from some higher parts of an ancient god while the less fortunate came from the feet. Afterlives are another scam of the same sort.

It seems to me that the modern equivalent is the "wealth creators" myth. Wolfgang links to a particularly egregious example.

The scam, of course, is the notion that the guy who winds up with most of the money created it. Walter White was a medium scale wealth creator, and on a somewhat larger scale tax arbitragers and pension swindlers like Mitt Romney convinces themselves that they "created" the money they accumulate.

Of course there really are wealth creators - inventors and technology pioneers - but they are rarely the ones who make the big bucks. And they almost never accomplish it alone.