Why we 'really' do what we do

'Third, while we share many of the same ideals, I think the prospect of personal gain is a more powerful driver of co-operation than the idea of the general good. In exchange, both sides benefit – or they would not do it. We only gain personally if we can make someone else better off too. Exchange, though motivated by self-regard, spreads benefit far and fast across the planet. It encourages people to build up and look after their productive resources, allowing goods and services to be produced ever more cost-effectively. It works, even despite the best efforts of politicians to divert it for their own ends. Plumbers get up at three in the morning to fix people's blocked drains because they get a direct personal benefit from doing it. Would they get up at three out of the goodness of their hearts?'

- Dr. Eamonn Butler, 'Capitalism or Socialism?'


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