I always hear people talking about greed as if without it the world would be a beautiful utopia where everyone would be happy and lead perfect and wonderful lives. I don't understand this thinking. While I won't deny that greed has led to a great deal of horrible things throughout history, it's also responsible for pretty much everything good we have.
Look at your local supermarket. There is significantly more than enough food there to feed everyone living within several miles, with more food trucked in on a daily basis, because thousands of farmers, packagers, truck drivers, entrepreneurs, and who knows how many others, coordinate to make, process, package, and ship the food, all of whom have the exact same thought in mind; make money. You don't get this kind of effective coordination without the people involved being personally motivated to get their jobs done properly.
Throughout history, millions, maybe even billions of people have died from thirst. Today, we get an infinite amount of water pumped into our homes, and we don't even have to think about it aside from the monthly water bill. Why? Because there are people whose paycheck is dependent on water making it through underground pipes and into your home.
How about this fucking snow? Thousands of tons of society-crippling frozen death falls from the sky, and before the storm clouds roll in we have trucks dumping sand and salt on all the roads, and when the snow falls we have snow plows roll out and make the roads usable and safe. Why? Because every town has an asshole politician or two that know that they won't get re-elected unless they get someone to organize all of that.
Your favorite book? Printed, packaged, shipped around the country, and possibly even written, because some people wanted to make a lot of money off of it.
Vaccines. Antibiotics. Cancer treatments. Your computer. Your favorite video-game. Your car. Your home. The clothes you're wearing. The condom that broke and got your mother pregnant with you. Every necessity in your life. Every luxury in your life. All of these things exist simply because someone, somewhere, wanted a fat stack of cash in their pocket.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that greed fucking rocks, and stop hating on it.
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Exactly correct, and I agree with you 100%.
Which is also why I agree with Kenny. Greed is not the problem. It's what you do with it that becomes morally questionable.
Okay, again I'm replying without reading all 17 pages of posts before this, but a quick skim seems to avoid this point: "Greed" is harming others to obtain excess for yourself.
The many (MANY) merits of a free market economy which operates upon a profit-motive exist without true greed.
Paying workers as little as possible to make goods that you sell for as much as possible is NOT greed.
Forcing people into slavery to produce those goods IS greed.
Passing measures, bills, etc. that can help get a politician re-elected is NOT greed.
Raising funds and having a thorough ad campaign to get re-elected is also NOT greed.
Rigging an election or having your competitor assassinated IS greed.
Saving your extra income for a rainy day or to pass down to your children or buy a giant golden statue of yourself is NOT greed.
Stealing money from a charity (or pretty much anywhere) IS greed.
Also, just to make clear, just because something isn't immoral doesn't mean it is moral. A great many things are amoral.
Ok, but how about this
Is it greed for instance for a business to fire employees once they reach a certain age, because at that age they would legally be required to pay them more? The employees do their job well and work well but are that age, and the business wants to keep its costs down.
Dictionary.com: Greed: excessive or rapacious desire especially for wealth or possessions.
Merriam-Webster.com: Greed: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as of money) than is needed.
OK: so in both cases we're talking about excess. Dictionary.com doesn't spell out excess of what but Merriam-Webster indicates that this excess is having a desire for "more than is needed".
Begging the question: How much is needed? The answer, of course, is relative. In order to define greed, we have to define need, which is almost as slippery a term. What do you need to survive? What do you need to enjoy life? What do you need to advance in your career? Beyond the individual, what does society need? What does humanity need? How do we differentiate between legitimate needs and wants. Now in order to define greed, we need to define not just need, but also want, and therefore, also the line that falls between the two. Are there any absolute guidelines for where that line should fall or is it going to be entirely relative from one person (or business) to the next?
If we do start drawing absolute lines, then we better be sure those lines are in the right places, and the only way to do that is to be drawing those lines based on absolute principles of morality. Unfortunately, morality isn't based on principle in North America anymore; it's based on opinion. Christianity has a set of morals, Islam has en entirely different set, Buddhists have an entirely different set, atheists have an entirely different set, and the common ground is almost non-existent, especially when you throw in the fact that almost all these worldviews, including atheism, have sub-sections with intervarying opinions. Therefore, since we're all coming from a different starting point with different presuppositions about the world around us, it's no wonder we're all disagreeing on what greed is. I imagine we can find loads of things to disagree on in all areas of morality, all because of this same reason.
Therefore, one of two things must be true. Either greed (and all morality) is an illusion created by humanity, and the illusion takes different form depending on which worldview you were born into/raised by/came into on your own, or there is in fact a set of absolute morals to which we are all bound, meaning that most of us or all of us are very very wrong.
Neither prospect is extremely appealing. Either we are all fooled and there is no right and wrong or good and evil (so greed/theft/genocide isn't actually wrong and kindness/respect/love are not actually good), or a vast majority of us all are very very wrong since it is impossible for two opinions on anything absolute, much less thousands of opinions, to all be right.
This is an issue that goes much deeper than greed.
Greed might, every once in a while, inspire or aid in something ultimately good... but greed doesn't rock.
Have Ghandi's social sins been brought up yet?
Politics without Principle
Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge without Character
Commerce without Morality
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrifice
So If we define Greed as the fifth down "Commerce without Morality". Then I think we can call it a generally bad thing.
That doesn't mean good things haven't come out of it, but that doesn't necessarily make the action any less morally repugnant.
You might not want to define greed as such, but you must redefine the word to fit one meaning, the word greed is loaded with a significant amount of cultural stigmas and definitions (all of them negative), so debating with this term is pejorative at the very least.