Let's play a game: spin the wheel, and if you're lucky you come out fabulously wealthy, with a lovely family, famous, worshipped by all and sundry for your brilliance --- but one time in an unknown number of tries you're ruined, your life is wasted, your spouse and children are thrown into poverty and leave you. Is this the kind of gamble that a sensible person would engage in?
What if many other people you know play the game and prosper --- does that make the right decision different? What if the last time anybody failed to win was generations ago? What if articulate individuals present clever arguments that things are different now, that the wheel has been fixed and nobody need lose any more? What if people who win do so without performing any real work or adding any perceptible value to the world --- that is, their riches flow from non-players who are laboring unrecognized day after day?
Logic tells you that this can't last --- it's a Ponzi scheme, a pyramid racket, a chain letter which only moves resources from pocket to pocket. But it hasn't collapsed yet, and there probably are enough suckers to keep it going until you escape with your profits. Talk about temptation!
So what do you choose?
Friday, December 03, 1999 at 21:16:24 (EST) = Datetag19991203