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Why Are People So Greedy?

January 15, 2011
By Daniel McLaughlin,

I was talking with my son the other day, and the subject turned to events in the news. He asked the question "Why are people so greedy nowadays?" The answer is, of course, that people in general are no more greedy, violent, generous, or kind now than they were 20, 50, 100, or 1,000 years ago. They make decisions and respond to incentives the same way they always have. The technologies and the institutions with which they can do their good or bad, however, certainly have changed over time. The ups and downs of civilizations had much more to do with the laws and political institutions which affected the incentives for the people to be productive and responsible than with changes in the nature of the people themselves.



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