This is how you create drug pushers (criminal or corporate), or ideological shills, or other promoters of societal evil. It's why poverty is perpetuating:

> John Kapoor insisted that Insys hire sales representatives who were “PHD” — “poor, hungry, driven” or “poor, hungry, dumb”— Alec Burlakoff told the FT and Frontline.

This goes far beyond one criminal opiod manufacturer.


Storytime: back at uni, my first-year econ prof was (I realised only decades later) a raging Libertarian ideologue.

Mind, it was obvious from what he presented, and how, in lectures -- Friedman's "Free to Choose", dumping on Keynes, renewable energy, and the like.

But if you're a dumb kid just learning economics and thinking, in error, that it's actually a science rather than a theology, that's going to go over your head.

It's something I see far more clearly now.

He died recently.


Which means I finally got to read his biography, in his obituary.

I'd known him as an already elderly man, patrician-seeming. The first man I was aware of having manicured nails -- distinctly un-caloused.

(I worked construction part of my time through uni, amongst other positions. Wood, hammers and sawdust do a number on your hands. As does falling off rain-slicked roofs to other parts, as one 50-year old worker on our crew did, due to management foul-ups -- plastering before roofing.)


He published very few papers. Stunningly few, actually.

And yet, after retiring, endowed a chair at the department. As in: a uni professor was somehow taking in millions and could finance a major institution.

I figured he came from money.


Grew up in a small town. Dad had embarked on a number of business ventures which failed in the depression, leading to drink and abandoning his family. Raised by a single mother, military service, college degree.


A rather mysteriously vague Year in the Big City, before heading off as one of the founding faculty of an expansion university economics programme at a time when much of the world saw such expansion.

Though most of his published work was through Libertarian organisations. His work -- in natural resources -- was largely on behalf of companies exploiting those. Again, elided in the obit.

In ways, his story isn't unlike that of another Libertarian exponant aready mentioned: Milton Friedman.


Both were poor, hungry, and driven. Neither were dumb. Both were at best ethically unmoored, if not evil.

There are many others in the field of economics who are similar. And of course, other fields -- this happens to be one I'm particularly close to. Law, politics, sales, marketing, engineering, computer science, even sociology and psychology if you look to areas such as criminology, propaganda, advertising, and manipulation.

And of course, there are good people in these fields.


But profit very often favours the amoral.

And those who wish to drive and manipulate such fields and endevours know this -- either consciously (as the Insys quote demonstrates), or innately. Which holds true ultimately doesn't matter -- the _system_ is what incentivises such behaviour, and so long as it's rewarded above moral action, it will occur.

There's an argument if often indirect that alleviating poverty will reduce drive and incentive. That may be true.

But it works both ways.


You also reduce the drive of the amoral. You also create the _opportunity_ for the morally-bound to engage in activities which _don't_ provide immediate personal gain, but which _do_ support the Common Weal. The Common Wealth.

Social benefit.

Not to mention all the developmental effects of growing up in poverty which can stunt mental and character development through no fault of the victims.

But you might want to realise that poverty itself serves the interests of oppressors.


@dredmorbius Many things start to make sense when you realise economics isn’t a science.

@sandyman Quite.

It's a bit like alchemy:

There are bits that are useful.
There are bits that aren't.
It's based on highly-motivated reasoning.
It may yet result in a true science.

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