“The Greater Fool”
I had never heard of this term before watching the latest episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. Sloan Sabbath proclaims a “greater fool” to be an economic concept. He is a “patsy” with the “perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think he can succeed whether others have failed.” Sloan Sabbath, who is the token hot female economist on the show, tends to drop economic jargon shamelessly into the sometimes long-winded dialogue of Aaron Sorkin’s hit new HBO television show. In this instance, however, she might have overreached.
When I went to look up the term for myself, I first found a blog post with the timely title “Greater fools didn’t build that.” The author argues the political implications stemming from Aaron Sorkin’s use of the term. As part of this rant, he also points out:
The greater fool theory is the belief that one can turn a profit by speculating on future prices rather than creating actual value. It relies on the assumption that someone else will be left holding the bag when the bubble bursts.
As far as I can tell, this definition appears to be much more accurate than the idealistic dreamer seemingly implied by Sorkin. In particular, the greater fool in the economic sense is trying to make money through speculation rather than change the world. Nonetheless, Sloan Sabbath is still my favorite character on the show, and I’m sure she will make up this blunder to me next season.
Don’t mistake political diatribe for economics. The article was written with a clear anti-democrat stance by a republican political communications expert. I also think the bar is set pretty low for a political communications experts job title.
The following quotes from the article best illustrate that point.
A: Sorkin — like President Obama — sees the economy (wrongly) as a game of winners and losers.
B: Free-market capitalism is the only economic system ever devised that gives all individuals the opportunity to be economic winners
Seems to me the statements cancel each-other out. The economy is not a game of winners and losers. It’s just a river, and how high the water mark is depends on how much it rains. Or how much dams you built, or how much water you redirect elsewhere.
The actual definition of a greater fool is the purchase of goods for a higher price than what it was obtained for by the previous owner. You are the greater fool if you purchase things for greater value, not by selling them speculatively as you imply. Any everybody does that. Last I checked, sales tax (or VAT - value added tax) is what makes everyone into a greater fool - we are all greater fools to our countries. And that is because government is built on - taxes.
There is a long list of things the Republicans got wrong. A company is not a person, voting is not a privilege - it’s a right, and in fact: your country was built by greater fools. If you can feel pride for your country, then you can also take pride in being one of the greater fools that makes it happen.
Think with your head.