October 31, 2009

Entitlement on Wall Street

The travails of Wall Street forces one to think about some fundamental facts.

  • Is there any specific reason why bankers and other financial industry executives should be millionaires?

The New York Times has an interesting analysis about the troubles of the financial industry here ...


  • How much pay do doctors and teachers and research scientists in the physical and biological sciences earn?
  • Does a person need millions of dollars of pay per year to maintain a good standard of living?
  • How does society benefit by having some people who are spectacularly rich while others live in poverty?
  • Do these millionaires contribute anything of value to society that would justify their earning those pay packets?

Of course, in a free market economy, these are difficult choices to make ...

But society can come to a consensus as to what are the really important activities that a society must engage itself in and what are not so important.

I do not believe derivatives trading has any fundamental significance to the future of humanity ... in the way that research into clean energy alternatives has.

One could, in fact, think of many things which have obvious significance and long-term value ...

All sorts of research into genetic medicines which will help us understand cancer better ... not to mention other diseases such as AIDS and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, etc.

Research into GM foods which will help tackle the looming problem of food shortage for the ever-growing population of the planet.

Space science which has many aspects to it ... some day we will find other habitable planets in far corners of the universe which is a must if we ever want to grow beyond living on this tiny outpost in a forgotten corner of the universe ... other space scientists are ever on the lookout to see if any wayward space objects are on a collision course with our planet ... if Armageddon visits our planet again as it did to lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, these scientists will help us survive that.

There's so much pure science research that would help us understand the structure of the universe better.

Perhaps we are lucky that there are people in this world who are willing to devote their lives to these pursuits with very little financial return ... unlike financial industry executives who measure everything in terms of money.

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