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Greed Proof — Not Greed Free

We need to design systems that are greed proof, not greed free. That’s the conclusion of Nassim Taleb.

Two millennia ago, Sallust wrote the following:

“When I was a callow young man, I plunged enthusiastically into public life. Instead of modesty, brazenness flourished; instead of self-restraint, bribery; instead of merit, avarice (…)my youthful weakness was corrupted and gripped by ambition. Although I refrained from the wicked ways of the rest, still the same craving for advancement that plagued them with ill-repute and jealousy plagued me too.”(Bell. Cat., III.3)

That sounds like it could have been written today.

Taleb continues:

22 centuries from now (if we make it), someone will be writing the same. Yet we hear utopianizing idiots (such as the maker of the movie “Inside Jobs”) bemoaning the “greed” of bankers, the bureaucratizing minds of bureaucrats, not realizing that these are embedded in human nature. Anyone who think we can correct humans is similar to those who think that they will get it right “the next time” …

ANTIFRAGILE-The only strategy for us is to build a greed-resistant system… or go further benefit from the greed of humans. And build systems in which politicians are harmless.

This is the philosophy of responsibility. Charlie Munger, talking at Westlake, said “the system is responsible in proportion to the degree that the people who make the decisions bear the consequences.”