I’m the guy who lurks
In the heart of every man
I’m the creepy jerk
Dressed up like your dearest friend
I’m the guy who thinks
Of the press and interviews
Like to walk a mile
In God’s favorite running shoes
I’m the guy who wants more and more
And more and more and more
And then when I’m through
You’ll be turned into
An emotional vegetable’
Cause I’m the guy
I’ll tell you how great you are
You’re the best by far
You’re a drop dead centerfold
And your life will be controlled
It’ll be controlled by me
The above lyrics are taken from a song, I’m the Guy, by Spock’s Beard. The song is referencing the Ego, he’s the guy. The ego is an interesting concept, all the major religions teach that the ego is bad for the most part. Yet economics teaches that all human action is motivated by our preferences and the wealthiest society is when we are freest to choose our preferences, some of which are from the Ego. Now, economics isn’t concerned with morality, economists can make moral decisions, but economics as science is concerned with the monetary aspects of relationship, not the moral aspects.
If economics teaches correctly, AND the major religions are correct then the conclusions should arrive at similar lifestyles and policies as they are all part of the same human system. Yet there appears to be dichotomy. If the wealthiest society is created without government forcing or impeding choices then how come religions seem to teach that you should ignore your ego?
Let’s start with the Ego. What is it? Religion typically teaches that it is our selfishness, our desires that have a disregard for others. Using the lyrics above it appears that the ego is practically a separate entity that seeks to raise ourselves up when compared to others. They ego is the part of you that seeks recognition, who thinks one can do it better than someone else.
The Ego requires other people. If it is selfishness, then it is with a disregard for others. If it is as in the song, then it seeks to raise our status with other people. The Ego isn’t about making sure we are the best we can be, but about making sure that we are better than everybody else. It isn’t about doing something worth recognition, or being wise enough to be sought after; it is just about receiving those things. They Ego prefers all these things without work; which often enough means pushing others down or out-of-the-way in order to make temporary gains.
Praxeology is based on the Action Axiom – Human action is purposeful behavior – and teaches that all human action is essentially the most important action to us at that time with the given environment. We act to remove dissatisfaction from our lives. Economics, when rooted in praxeology shows that allowing free choice brings about the most efficient use of resources, and thus the wealthiest society. Economics doesn’t rely on whether choices are made following the Ego or not, and is unable to distinguish between the two for the same reason that freedom brings about the most efficient use of resources: no man is capable of fully understanding the needs of another man and thus able to satisfy his dissatisfactions. Whether we develop our needs and desires based on the ego or other moral principles is economically mute at the foundation.
If freedom fosters trade >> trade fosters specialization >> specialization fosters human relationships then the best trade comes through when individuals consider the needs of others >> so freedom fosters a reduction of the ego because increasingly satisfying our dissatisfactions in a wealthy economy requires increased interaction with others. If selfishness is defined as “stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others.” then freedom fosters “stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a regard for others.” A form of self-interest, selfishness, greed that is relational. Where-as a reduction of freedom reduces wealth and makes trade more difficult, causing the opposite effect of a disregard for others and the strengthening of the ego.
So where do we go from here? We can continue to push for increased freedom in our public policies and governance so the human condition will better and our egos will be reduced. However, the world is still free in many regards so time should also be spent utilizing that freedom to satisfy your dissatisfactions. Learn to satisfy them by utilizing the division of labor and satisfy other’s needs. Keep that regard of others and we will prosper in any semi-free state.
Here’s to keeping the Ego in check and our relationships fulfilling.