Mr Burns is my favourite evil business-man. It was a rare episode of The Simpsons that he didn’t hassle Homer, try to dupe his workers, or generally try to suck the life out of the idyllic town of Springfield. But that’s not why I like him…
I like him because he made us question this caricature of US capitalism. He was a powerful symbol of Milton Friedman’s corporate ideology that shareholder profits were all that mattered.
While his excesses may have been exaggerated, it did what all good satire does, it used humour to highlight the dangers of private-business interests coming before the good of society as a whole.
Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in the markets, I’m pro-capitalism, I’m on team-trade!
But as I explore the potential of shifting our economy towards better valuing the things that really matter (GDP is not a good measure of well-being), I’m struck by a looming paradox…
Can you be rich, and still be good?
Can you make lots of money without side-stepping the rules; without stomping all over other people’s rights?
Perhaps the idea there is a trade-off between doing good and making money is the issue we need to deal with.
As the Good Future podcast evolves I’m realising this is one of the key questions I’m exploring. My guests come from many fields, and they’ve arrived on different journeys, but one thing they all have in common is that they’re good. And their lifestyle and their work is in-line with their values.
So from that perspective, they’re all certainly rich.
Let me know in the comments… what constitutes a rich life for you?