Robert Gentel wrote:
It turns to greed I think when someone has much more than enough but doesn't do anything with the extra.
But isn't this somewhat the same problem? If a poor person saves we applaud it, if a rich person saves he's "hoarding".
If a person has much more
than enough, that person is not poor. Even if it's in a savings account and he/she chooses to live as if
he or she were poor.
What if the rich person just thinks they are a great investor and wants to give it all away when they die? Their motivations must not be greed. These behaviors are again things we find healthy in people who simply are not rich.
If the rich use the money, they waste it lavishly ("flashing the cash, gaudy, wasteful") if they don't use it they hoard it senselessly. I really don't think their activities here are the key factors, just the rich part. At some point it becomes conceptually too much, and no matter what they do with it people start to view it as being wrong, unless what they do with it is to immediately start rectifying the error of their ways (of having too much money) by getting rid of it.
I see what you're saying but I don't personally have that problem. I don't have an inherent objection to large houses (especially if I personally find the house to be beautiful -- someone has to maintain them), or other pure beauty/ esthetic issues that go beyond what is absolutely needed, for example.
So I would have no problem with someone who lives in a huge, amazing Victorian house that has been painstakingly maintained, with extensive gorgeous gardens, and then also is on the board of directors of a nonprofit and holds fundraisers there and contributes a significant chunk of his/her own money to said nonprofit.
But when someone has that much and isn't willing to "give back" in any way but the bare minimum (taxes) -- and further, tries to beat the bare minimum via creative accounting and offshore bank accounts -- that gets into greedy territory IMO.
Why is it ok for us not to be giving to those poorer than us then? There are people who are as poor in comparison to you as you are to the rich, but if you don't start giving your money away to them significantly (the rich give, so it's the amount that is in question) are you being greedy?
Yes. I do give a fair amount, for that reason. I don't have much more than I need, but I have enough extra, and am aware enough of those inequalities, that I have been donating what I can since I had very little to donate.
And if we, within the law, try to minimize our own tax burden is it greedy? At what point does the same activities we all engage in* suddenly become greedy?
I think none of this is sudden, and it's tricky to find the line. But I think there is a line -- that the fact that the line is hard to locate doesn't mean that it's all the same thing necessarily.
*I am excluding cheating, tax evasion etc. Those are clearly wrong regardless of who does it.
That is by the way pretty much what I meant. I think there is a category of tax loopholes though that are strictly legal but that are also greedy. I blame the loopholes (and the people who made them legal) more than the people who utilize the loopholes, though.
This, to me, is the only definition I find valuable. Thing is, most people simply seem to assume that anyone rich got there that way. They will call them greedy on the sole basis of the discrepancy in wealth, without having any specific act of greed in mind.
I agree with that. I know people with a lot of money (not crazy amounts, but definitely top 10%) who are perfectly nice, ethical etc. people. I don't have any problem with them simply because they have a lot of money.