Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Good Bandwagon

It's better to hustle and take care of my own business.
It's best if I just make as much money as possible to defend against the horrors of the society. Remember that money can buy an SUV (to oppress potholes), a generator (to give the middle finger to NEPA), a ticket (to win a seriously high-paying job in future elections), a good address (to impress ladies) etc etc.
But before you join the band of hustlers, read this:

I was at a great seminar this week for future parliamentary staff, where I got some good answers to the question that has been on my mind for a while now:
WHy WOrk for tHe CoMmoN GOOD?
I ask this because some wonderful, talented, frankly great people are dropping out of the good wagon. They're looking around and saying, "Oh boy, I'm on my own o. I better just get money." In Lagos, many people already said this long time ago. They have their very good reasons for concluding that individual hustle is the answer, but they may be wrong, and in fact they may be making life worse for themselves by their choices.

Dr. A. Momoh in his answer to my question suggested a utilitarian argument for why common good is worth working for. Here is a scenario explaining the utility argument:

(A) I put in 10 units of effort and get 10 units of good... for myself, versus (B) I put in same effort and get 1 unit of good for each of 200 people, myself included.
Hey, then you see I just created 20 times more good. That's a higher utility/good. For high-minded people, this is a sufficient argument, since more good is created.

But not everybody is so high-minded. For normal selfish people, the question is "how many my share?" The scenario below shows that when we work for the common good, my own share also increases.

Imagine a society of 200 people all putting in 10 units of effort (but we will say later if they are working like A or like B), read on to see the amount of good in their lives:

(A) All selfish people putting in 10 units of effort each, will produce 2000 units of good (the citizens enjoy 10 units each.)

(B) All community-serving people putting in 10 units of effort each, will produce 40000 units of good (the citizens enjoy 200 units each. Wow. Now everybody wants to become a citizen of this community.)

Can you believe that it only takes 5% people being selfless to DOUBLE the good we each get.


If 11 people are community-serving, with 189 selfish, but remember all 200 make the same 10 units of effort, they will produce a total of 4090 units of good (the citizens enjoy more than 20 units each.)

From another speaker A. Sanusi's segment I gained an understanding of what Hobbes' Common-Wealth means. There is individual wealth, there is also common wealth. Join the bandwagon and invest.

2 comments:

DonCasiragi said...

Just thinking, isn't there an intersection between self and the commonwealth? Is it possible to serve one self and the common good the same time? I believe there is...that work which creates out-sized value for the society, while being economically rewarding to self sits at that intersection

Alexander said...

True talk, nicely laid out permutations. I certainly think the ramblings of the one considered a mad man should continue, because it sparks up what could be a revolution when it touches just one more person. great write-up.

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