In an interview broadcast on Al Jazeera English, Noam Chomsky argues that people who have the most privilege owe the most to society. "The more privilege you have the more responsibility you have," says Chomsky, "It's elementary."
Asked why the opposite seems to be true in America, where many wealthy people refuse to give up their time or money to help those in need, Chomsky replies that the lack of public responsibility among many elites makes sense; after all, if you've devoted your life to enriching yourself and wealth is what you value the most, you don't care as much about other people. But it goes beyond that, argues Chomsky. "It's also institutional. In its more pathological form, it's Ayn Rand ideology: 'I just don't care about anyone else. I'm only interested in benefiting myself. That's good and noble."
"It's responsibility to yourself. You're maximizing your own short-term gain."
Beyond the financial crash brought on by Wall Street greed, another area where short-term gain presents a dire threat to humanity is climate change. "It's imminent that global warming will cause a major catastrophe ... if you don't pay attention to it because it's an externality: 'I'm interested in gain, not what happens to my grandchildren' -- then you're going to accelerate the disaster."