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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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.
What is greed? It isn't entirely well-defined, is it.
I think greed is a natural phenomenon. Humans dislike greed because we dislike anything that makes us feel depedant on insctinct. Plus, most of us can see that greed doesn't benifit the overall good of humanity. It doesn't mean that people should stop their efforts to rid the world of people wh's greed is impacting the world, it simply means that it isn't something we can entirely escape.
I agree with you, the question is a matter of morality. If we define greed as "a desire of things that overwhelms morality", then there is a problem with being greedy.
There's nothing wrong with wanting things, but we must have some realistic and quantifiable moral standard to limit our pursuit of those things.
This standard could Utilitarian, Religious, ECT.
So...ignore most of what I've ever said on here. It was a while ago, and half of it I disagree with now.
SO. While I still don't entirely agree with Kenny - or at least what it seems like he's saying, I do get the jist (spelling?) of it and to some extent, agree.
If you define greed simply as wanting what you don't need, then yes. It can be a force for good (though I still wouldn't agree that it's the cause for all good). Some people are intrinsic, and some are extrinsic - meaning that some people are motivated to do things simply because they want to, or for the sense of accomplishment, or for the pride (for lack of better word...being proud of your accomplishments...not being prideful in the sense that most people use it) that comes with it. Others are extrinsically motivated. They require some sort of reward, or money, or fame. Oprah is an extrinsic person, but that doesn't change the fact that she's doing good for the world. She's considered "greedy". But look what she does with the money.
But I wouldn't say that 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. "exist simply because someone, somewhere, wanted a fat stack of cash in their pocket."
or, particually, 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.
That is an example of extrinsic motivation, i.e. the paycheck. But I wouldnt' define it as greed, because that's just you needing to pay your bills and feed your children...You and I obviously have different definitions of greed...but, whatever.
~Tayo, who is now a bit more grown up and less likely to think everyone is stupid for not agreeing with her.
Needing to support yourself doesn't mean you're greedy, it means that you live in some sort of society. Greed isn't wanting what you need or a little bit more, greed is wanting everything. Some good things do come from greed, but they're almost always either a side effect or an accident. The fact that people are willing to work for the things they want and need doesn't mean that everyone is greedy.
Besides, people like Jonas Salk, who created a little something called the polio vaccine and then refused to copyright it, disprove your hypothesis to an extreme. He didn't make a dime off of all his hard work, he just saved a bunch of kids, ourselves included.
"When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: 'There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?'"
What a badass.
Lam has a point sort of. Greed has a side effect. It provides incentive for some to "make more of the pie", more stuff for the rest of us. In that way it has a good effect even if it in itself isn t good.
If there wasn't greed in the world, smart people like us wouldn't have many people to laugh at.
Ayn Rand never saw greed as evil... She loved that good ol' captialism! MM MM MM!
I believe that greed can be a good thing, if given the proper situation and usage. When it causes harm to others is when I see it as an evil entity (yes entity, because greed thrives)
Yes she did. I love capitolism also. It beats everything else right now. It does have some flaws though. But ann ryan sucks as a writer. Reading her books felt like scraping nails across my brain. I was glad when I was done.
Self-interest only becomes a real problem when the actions you take to get your money or power hurt other people. Greed is not honest work for good pay. Greed is taking more than you need at the unwilling expense of others. Investors making good investments and profiting is good. It drives our economy and ultimately gets me the movies I love. Investors tweaking the system so they make money but jobs and lives are destroyed: evil. Greed.