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What is greed?

 
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...I guess you just did describe two kinds of greediness...how about making better products more worth and built quality with a smaller price ? Would that be a good business plan in your dictionary ?

(edited) actually the greediness is the same what there is is two different projects to get there...

... in fact there is a limit to optimizing profit margins without contributing to mass unemployment and the destruction of social systems which eventually will lead to the demise of the economic structure...just imagine the paradox of a fully mechanized mega fabric who would produce all the products in the world with the lowest cost possible with only one owner...who would be buying its products without jobs ? its a simple straightforward metaphor without accounting for much dynamics in the system but its robust enough to make a case...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:20 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
...the problem is not about having a certain degree of greed but rather the kind of greed who kills the golden goose...if it was the case that the world was ruled by a logic of smart greediness we would certainly not have the crisis we are in at this point...that much I am sure !
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:24 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
I hope that we r not killing any golden geese.
I do not believe that we r.





David
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:34 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

sozobe 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.

Robert wrote:
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.

Robert wrote:
Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
*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.

Quote:
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.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:40 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
I am not so sure about that...by far not at all convinced...unless you can cope well with a mega crash as a natural self regulating rule around...the same case could be made concerning diseases and hunger as a mean to control population growth...we could close the hospitals and come up with the same argument...
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:45 pm
@High Seas,
I guess Germany and Japan have shown that if you want your nation to prosper go to war with the U.S. but be sure to lose.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:47 pm
@sozobe,
The problem of greed its not a problem of how much money someone has in his bank account but on the processes used to get it...in most cases a flawless accounting regarding the social cost would prove in fact the inefficiency in creating wealth of many company's ! they divert wealth instead of generating it, and the trick goes in doing it in a non easily traceable manner...
...the confusion goes precisely in not distinguishing that a balanced economic system must pursue profit in a sustainable integrated way...what we have now is a short sighted cannibalism !
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:50 pm
For me the important bit is what, as ever it seems, Soz has already said......it's when the pursuit of money becomes an end in itself and little or no thought is given to the means of getting the money and its impact on others.

Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:53 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
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.


But "much more" is very relative, and Finn correctly pointed out a big problem with that in that we all have much much more than some very needy people, people to whom the difference means life and death and not first world problems.

Quote:
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.


But would you consider someone who does not, in your situation, donate money to be greedy? I would not, personally ("much more" isn't a criterion I subscribe to) and I guess my point is that if that is your criteria wouldn't it also mean that most Americans are to be considered greedy?
ossobuco
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:54 pm
@dlowan,
Chopped liver speaking here - I agree with you both.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:57 pm
@dlowan,
Actually I do disagree with that...in a perfect long term system, one say, to last a thousand years the best possible way to get rich beyond measure would be in a balanced economic system with a rational distribution of wealth which would not compromise the average pick efficient productivity of human beings...which amounts to say take all that you can up to that point...(not compromising efficiency)
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 04:57 pm
@dlowan,
Do you have any thoughts on what the criteria to identify people with those traits should be?

Put another way, if greed is when the pursuit of money becomes an end in itself then when does the pursuit of money subjectively become an end in itself to you?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:04 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
But would you consider someone who does not, in your situation, donate money to be greedy?

...the question it is so vague that the answer can go both ways...obviously it depends on what kind of "investment" such donation would be applied for...this is not a problem of donations.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:06 pm
So I'm curious as to why no further discussion occured addressing the points that I made in my earlier post. The comments were I thought, peritnent and valid.

post # 4,763,865
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:14 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:
...I guess you just did describe two kinds of greediness...how about making better products more worth and built quality with a smaller price ? Would that be a good business plan in your dictionary ?


They are just different to me, I do not find any inherent ethical difference between them.

Quote:
... in fact there is a limit to optimizing profit margins without contributing to mass unemployment and the destruction of social systems which eventually will lead to the demise of the economic structure...


My point was actually that profit margins are not the same thing as profit and that depending on the business you are in a smaller profit margin may be optimal to yield the most profit.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:16 pm
@Ragman,
Well if you must know, and promise not to take qualm with my honesty: I didn't address it because I didn't think it raised any pertinent and valid points, I thought it was vague.

But it's just a forum, and those decisions are superficially made, I wouldn't read too much into it (e.g. maybe I just missed the point).
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:17 pm
On the light of what I have been saying so far I would define greediness as a short term commitment with profit in which wealth is being diverted instead of being created !
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...then we agree.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
To clarify, how would one go about identifying which of the people on Wall Street are greedy. That is the context that I am measuring the various criteria up against as an example.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:20 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Do you have any thoughts on what the criteria to identify people with those traits should be?

Put another way, if greed is when the pursuit of money becomes an end in itself then when does the pursuit of money subjectively become an end in itself to you?


I think for me the two criteria both need to apply....ie there also needs to be a disregard for the effects upon others of this money gathering. But to answer your question I guess it's when the main joi de vivre is in the attaining of wealth.

Thing is, I think this pretty much defines the dominant Consumer culture as greedy....at least in its effects.....as I don't see much regard for the effects on the environment, poor people in other countries and future generations going on.

Therefore I see myself as essentially greedy.
 

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