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July 13, 2009

Exactly right

From David Klinghoffer's review of a forthcoming book, The Israel Test, by George Gilder:

As Gilder puts it, "The [Israel] test can be summarized by a few questions: What is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishments? Do you aspire to their excellence or do you seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement or do you impugn it and seek to tear it down?"

SOME PEOPLE see wealth-creation as a zero-sum game, where your enriching yourself means that you are taking something away from me. Others see wealth as almost miraculous. Material value is created from nothing - ex nihilo. That is, from nothing material - but from an idea, from creativity, from genius. In this view, your enrichment takes nothing from me. In fact, it creates opportunities for your neighbors to enrich themselves by doing business with you. Israel's Palestinian neighbors, with their pitiful economy, have failed spectacularly to perceive this.

Elementally, there are two different personality types here. Where you come down reveals a lot not just about your politics - though political views flow from it - but about the orientation of your soul.

Zero-sum personalities often resent the rich and the gifted and may succumb to a temptation to punish them. Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments are a frequent consequence. Ex-nihilo personalities have no reason to resent Jews or Israel.


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John S.

Interestingly, many of the people who see wealth creation as a zero sum game have a completely different attitude when it comes to sports. For example, does Jason Kidd's high salary cause others on his team to earn less? Or could it be that they earn more by playing on a team with a superstar?


My father, was certainly not an unbiased person, and he grew up in a place where he never met a Jew until he joined the army. Nevertheless he taught me that anyone with half a brain can see that our nation prospered in part due to the large number of highly educated and motivated Jewish people.

It doesn't take much intellect to look at the list of Nobel Prize winners in science, and other areas to see the mark of Jewish excellence. (I mean back when the Nobel meant something).


Gilder is the classic cult believer, which explains why he's bounced from capitalism to CDMA to now intelligent design.

Klinghoffer puts the faith in ID like this:

"Today's frontier of science, however, reminds us that human and animal life is animated by something totally nonphysical - the information coded in DNA - that, arguably, could not even in principle have arisen from a purely material process."

"Arguably" is bearing alot of weight there.

Jim Glass

"For example, does Jason Kidd's high salary cause others on his team to earn less?"

If there is a serious salary cap in the league, like in the NFL (and to a lesser extent the NBA), it definitely causes other players to earn less.

E.g., when Peyton Manning re-upped with a new contract the Colts cut a whole bunch of players to make room, replacing them with lower-cost players.

But your larger point is correct, those on the left who scream in outrage about high salaries in the business world never seem to complain about huge paydays for pro athletes, move actors, media people, etc., now matter how overpaid they turn out to be.

Kevin Costner/"Waterworld", Katie Couric with ratings lower than Dan Rather's, and don't get me onto some of the players the Mets have signed -- class warriors, where is your outrage?!

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