24
   

What is greed?

 
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:21 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
...if the thumbs down clownish cartoon around could read properly what I meant he would realise that what I am defending amounts to better salary´s better pay and a constructive society with a better distribution of wealth !
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...I would suggest follow the money path...
(which is not easy less alone to follow responsibility in such an abstract system)
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:23 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
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.


That is my problem with the definition as well, and you've touched on it elsewhere (saying that these are inherent traits of the capitalist system).

A definition that defines all defines none and in political discourse it's just rhetoric to me.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:29 pm
@dlowan,
You didn't address the question to me, but for me the whole culture of Wall Street is greedy in that I think the pursuit of profit becomes almost like a feeding frenzy, and one that feeds upon itself and has the appearance of almost an addiction.......don't know if you've visited the stock exchange there.

I'm sure there are plenty of reasonable and ethical people in the finance industry, dontbget me wrong...but I find a lot of what I see very disturbing and irrational in the sense of the emotional tone seeming kind of crazed.

Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:30 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
They are just different to me, I do not find any inherent ethical difference between them.


...forget the ethical (we don´t need to get there) talk financially instead...

...I would think that my suggestion is more in sync with the idea of creating wealth instead of diverting it...I mean selling a good product built with quality at a low price with a fair amount of profit is more likely to generate wealth then selling a pretty shinning piece of crap which won´t work in 6 months time...these days our society is all about deceiving and producing crap...
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:34 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I don't know that it quite defines all.....but it seems to define enough that it appears to be a trait of humans and hence of capitalism more than the other way around.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:37 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
You didn't address the question to me, but for me the whole culture of Wall Street is greedy in that I think the pursuit of profit becomes almost like a feeding frenzy, and one that feeds upon itself and has the appearance of almost an addiction.......don't know if you've visited the stock exchange there.


I've never heard of someone who speculates in stocks not getting addicted to it. Even if they only make a trade a year they check them daily, with widgets and all sorts of devices (starting with the ticker tape machines). But to me that's just a fairly predictable human response to its schedule of reinforcement.

Quote:
I'm sure there are plenty of reasonable and ethical people in the finance industry, dontbget me wrong...but I find a lot of what I see very disturbing and irrational in the sense of the emotional tone seeming kind of crazed.


I agree, but I feel the same way about a lot of microcosms. And if you aren't in the corporate rat race, even as a cog, those who are can seem positively nutso to you as well.

I guess to me "greedy" denotes being somewhat unethical and I'm not sure if their crazy is any more unethical than that of most, perhaps its just the same thing on a larger scale. In day-to-day life I avoid people who I feel are greedy, but I find it harder to apply to classes of people based on demographic details instead of personality and behavior.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:46 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:
...forget the ethical (we don´t need to get there) talk financially instead...


Ok.

Quote:
...I would think that my suggestion is more in sync with the idea of creating wealth instead of diverting it...


I think this is a very vague concept that is very hard to define. For example, invention of mortgage-backed-securities did create wealth, but you probably mean more tangible wealth, or production.

Quote:
I mean selling a good product built with quality at a low price with a fair amount of profit is more likely to generate wealth then selling a pretty shinning piece of crap which won´t work in 6 months time...these days our society is all about deceiving and producing crap...


If your product is napkins don't worry about them lasting 6 months. Business strategy is contingent entirely on the input variables, we can't come to vague agreements on what a universally ideal business strategy is.

There are different kinds of products, in some consumers value lower costs and quality than quality and durability. Think toilet paper. I don't want a higher-quality ass-towel that I can wash and reuse for up to 6 months. I want cheap, disposable paper.

There are also different ends of a market, and a whole spectrum of nuanced differences in between. There are people who place different levels of value on the marginal utility of increasing quality. Increasing quality has diminishing returns for the cost, so at some point it just becomes wasteful to the consumer (the increase in quality is not worth the increase in cost to them), and where that point is is defined differently from consumer to consumer. So to take an example, I'd rather pay for the high-quality product of an Apple computer, with it's very healthy profit margins because the marginal improvements in usability etc are worth it to me. However when I was younger, I was more willing to put up with the nuisances that cheaper computers have, and to me the value proposition of Windows PCs were much better.

And so it goes, I used to drive a nice car, now I drive a beater that barely works. There is no single product for all, there is no single business strategy for all and even for the same customer and the same product the value calculations can change dramatically.

So even from a financial perspective I don't think we can agree on vague proclamations about business. The devil is in the details.
Ragman
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:48 pm
@Robert Gentel,
My objection was the non-response by anyone on my first comments. I thought my point was meaningful or useful..but I understand your objection. I don't mind an honest critique at all.

I'll see if I can make it clearer:

My point was about corporate greed and reasonable distribution of wealth... and the institutionalization of greed by corporations in their indecent compensation given to CEOs and other top officers without a proviso that their salaries and bonuses are contigent upon making a profit for the company and/or connected to getting a greater market share. The problem of this sort of greed is that it's an indication of institutionalized irresponsibility as many officers don't have pay-for-performance. Then when a company like AIG asks for and receives taxpayer bailout, and CEOs still get bonuses...that greed is further underscored.

Furthermore, at some decision point, subordinate workers get laid off at the event of a major business downturn. 100s of employess jobs can be saved if these bonuses were greatly reduced or eliminated. Then perhaps they could be saving the jobs of 100s or more employees. Instead CEOs keep their jet vacations to exotic island resorts while the trench-workers get tossed on the bricks.

Is this any clearer as to what I mean about greed?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:51 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Yeah, the schedule of reinforcement is a killer, all right.

I don't know that I'd be wanting especially to label Wall Street as especially greedy.....more that it's one of the areas where greed plays out in an institutionalized sort of way and has the potential massively to affect many people.

I think where I get negative about it all is that I understand these people to lobby intensely against any sort of regulation (though that seems to be especially so in the US) with free market becoming almost some sort of sacred cow. I understand there are issues with regulation, but I don't think untrammeled markets have proven their worth.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:53 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...its not that vague if you consider the work or the entropy created in the entire system think of money like in physics one thinks of producing "work"...

...diverting wealth instead of creating it meant diverting entropy instead of creating work...

...what I meant is that the product being sold must be efficient for the money asked...6 months was a metaphor...I thought on computers for instance...

...the market would self regulate fine given the average IQ went up to 120 or so...that is the problem...people "immune system" reacts late to manipulation and the cancer grows...

Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 05:56 pm
@Ragman,
Ragman wrote:
Is this any clearer as to what I mean about greed?


What demographic you consider greedy was always clear, what was lacking was an attempt to explain the criteria and ratiocination that leads one to such distinctions.

You seem to basically be making the case that these executives are greedy because simply they have more money (big bonuses, jets). I don't know anyone who thinks they have too much money, but I know plenty of people who think other people have too much money.

So just having too much money isn't a very useful definition for me. Just because you point out that they use jets for locomotion and have large bonuses does not, to me, indicate greed. It seems like it does to you but that was my original point, that I don't think that is a very useful approach.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:01 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Nope. Once more..it's their compensation package..REGARDLESS of the health of the company. At the same time they get their obscene bonuses....regardless of the fact that they didn'tr make the company more successful...and .. 100s of workers get tossed out on the street. the fact that CEOs don't lose these HUGE compensation bonus packages when the corporation has to layoff employees because of the lack of foresight of the CEO.

I thought I had made it clear that this is not a simple case of the $$$ alone. I'm not sure I can make this point any clearer. Perhaps you could re-rerad what I wrote? I recognize that I have been known to be vague. Vaguely I recall a few 100 people telling me this at some point.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:04 pm
Attitudes count for a lot. (A nod here to Ragman.) When the whole sub-prime house of cards went south, with all the anger at the huge bonuses paid to high level managers who had been responsible for the debacles, the attitude of Canadian bankers was interesting. The Canadian banks are the very avatars of conservative investment. None of them had fallen for the sub-prime lure. Nevertheless, in the financial climate as it stood in late 2008, the Canadian banks did not make the money their managers had projected, and which had been suggested to share holders would likely be made. So, the high level managers of Canadian banks got together, quietly, of their own accord, and then publicly announced that as their banks had not made the profits which they had projected (no Canadian bank lost money), they would not take any bonuses for that year.

Imagine American CEOs, CFOs or even just high level managers behaving like that!
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:05 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
I don't know that I'd be wanting especially to label Wall Street as especially greedy.....more that it's one of the areas where greed plays out in an institutionalized sort of way and has the potential massively to affect many people.


I agree with this. I think the problem is that people simply aren't satisfied with blaming a system and need to put a face to the villain they need to play foil to themselves, the hero of the plot.

So instead of trying to mitigate the ways this system is institutionally greedy, they try to character assassinate the "greedy" CEOs because their bonuses are gaudy and they thusly unsympathetic.

Quote:
I think where I get negative about it all is that I understand these people to lobby intensely against any sort of regulation (though that seems to be especially so in the US) with free market becoming almost some sort of sacred cow. I understand there are issues with regulation, but I don't think untrammeled markets have proven their worth.


As they should, the point of regulation is to protect society but it's not in their individual interests. There is and always will be a conflict of interest between the society's need to regulate systemic risk and the imposition this puts on them.

And it is not to society's benefit to over-regulate either, and a balance is needed. In America there was a stronger belief in the inherent self-balancing of the market before this crisis, and it's important to remember that the economical consensus was that such systemic risks were largely solved with the existing regulations.

If regulations were just a generally good thing it would make sense to fault them for opposing them, but there is a "sweet spot" of regulations where there is the optimal amount of risk and reward and it is not objectively known.

So lobby they should, there's nothing wrong with lobbing to most people unless other people are doing it (just like pretty much anything, humans have a limitless capacity for self-justification).
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:07 pm
@Setanta,
thanks, Set. EX-ACT-ly.

Now...take the example of US pharma corporations (Pfizer as an example). That industry is one of the greediest. Look at the damage they do to the affordability on the US healthcare system. Can you say runaway-train?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
But...if regulation....and I agree re the unknown sweet spot....can help to stop this sort of financial hell hole, ISN'T it also in their best interests?

I don't think humans are incapable of prioritizing common interest over individual interest or long term interest over immediate gain. I think it's hard, but possible.

Yes, I understand your point and also expect them to lobby.....but I think beyond a certain point (and that's a toughie, I agree, where the point is) they are being immoral to do so...or at least unethical. It's not in my individual immediate interest to vote for higher taxing governments, but I do so for a variety of reasons..

For them to lobby strongly against what I believe to be mild regulatory proposals just after theyve been bailed out by public money seems to me to be just tacky!



Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:27 pm
...having to much of anything depends on how you deal with it, its about say, "computing power", a matter of correct administration, or what you can deal with...money is no different...someone who can create wealth not only for itself but for the system at large can deal with huge amounts of money no problem in there...its not about who has the money, but what is done with it for the common good of the system at large...producing wealth here is meant at large, and not has a particular concentration of capital highly costly in job loss, human degradation who creates more entropy then the one it pretends to address...
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:27 pm
@Ragman,
Yeah, i think run-away-train is a good description.

By the way, before someone runs out and tries to find data to make me a liar, i did the research myself. Newspapers like to do indignation, so there were plenty of articles about bonuses paid, and Canadian government subsidies of the Canadian "Big Six" banks. But here are the figures (from the Globe and Mail, Toronto): For 2007, eight and one third billion paid in bonuses, for 2008, just over seven billion, and for 2009, over eight and one third billion. The difference is that for 2008, the bonuses were reduced by the high level managers taking no bonus. The banks were still obliged to pay bonuses to high level managers in other counties, in many of which (particularly the U.S. and U.K.) they were contractually obliged to pay. Bonuses to lower level managers and all other employees were paid for 2008. But the refusal of bonuses by the high level managers of the big six saved those companies more than a billion dollars in bonuses. In all three of those years, Canadians banks, after paying all compensation and bonuses, still made profits.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 06:36 pm
@Ragman,
Ragman wrote:
Once more..it's their compensation package..REGARDLESS of the health of the company.


But that again is a criteria that only stands up for rich people, the same compensation structure at lower levels is something you have no moral problem with. The notion is that it is unethical to negotiate compensation that is not tied to company performance, and that morally indicts salaried workers unless you just say it's unethical for the rich to do but fine for others.

Look, I think it makes a world more sense for compensation and performance to have a greater relationship but most Americans do not have their compensation directly tied to performance either and you only call the rich ones greedy. This is not a consistent criteria between the rich and the poor so it does seem to be contingent on them being rich for it to quality as greed.

Quote:
At the same time they get their obscene bonuses....regardless of the fact that they didn'tr make the company more successful...and .. 100s of workers get tossed out on the street.


Sometimes layoffs are exactly what is needed to make a company successful. Which is it that you want, sometimes you can't have both? This is why I think this is just generalized anti-corporate ranting.

And if you are faulting them for taking large compensation packages while making layoffs I certainly wouldn't be able to do that but don't think it is inherently unethical because most people don't give up their compensation for others and don't begin to think they are being greedy.

It's hard to say what anyone's value is worth. I subscribe to the notion that value floats and is what people are willing to pay and are able to negotiate. So just because the compensation is large I am not willing to say that they are greedy.

These same protesters will often say that the corporations should also not "outsource" jobs overseas, and what they are essentially saying is that their 1st world salaries should be preserved over multiple 3rd world salaries. The comparative suffering caused (being unemployed in the first world vs unemployed in the third world) is large, but I do not think it's unethical for the first world workers to compete with them.

Quote:
the fact that CEOs don't lose these HUGE compensation bonus packages when the corporation has to layoff employees because of the lack of foresight of the CEO.


Well, do you think it's unethical to negotiate a compensation structure that is not directly tied to company performance or not? Or is it only unethical if you are an executive?

Quote:
I thought I had made it clear that this is not a simple case of the $$$ alone. I'm not sure I can make this point any clearer.


You make clear that you believe you aren't just arbitrarily calling the same self-interested behavior in the rich "greedy" while not in those who aren't rich, but I don't think you've made a very good case that it is true.

If you think you are, why don't you try to establish what your criteria is and see if it doesn't just revolve around the compensation size (so far your evidence has simply revolved around the notion that the compensation is outsized, but upon no basis other than its size).

Quote:
Perhaps you could re-rerad what I wrote? I recognize that I have been known to be vague. Vaguely I recall a few 100 people telling me this at some point.


Reading it again is not going to materially change what you said, or make me agree with you. I am convinced by reason, not repetition and no matter how many times I read it it will say the same thing.

If we don't agree that's fine, we don't have to and we'll both survive but I really don't think we are barking up the same tree, I am looking for more nuanced criteria than I believe you to be.
 

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