24
   

What is greed?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:21 pm
By the way, i don't see this as a "physician heal thyeself" situation. I don't look for corporate boards to cure these ills. It will probably take government regulation, and it would require broad interntional agreement on the terms, because otherwise you would just promote corporate flight to locales which were "compensation package friendly." People howl about government regulation and oversight, but the SEC is one example of oversight which was a product of the venality, cupidity and greed of capitalists who sought their own benefit and the share holders be damned. Government has instituted ocuupational safety and health regulation because corporations were not willing themselves to be responsible about that. The howlers against government oversight and regulation ignore that the vast majority of citizens of any nation are the employees of corporations, not the officers of those corporations. They have a right to expect their governments to protect them from venality, cupidity and greed. I don't look for it to happen, though, any time soon.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:28 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
...pardon the quick crude image reference, but like stars are for planets wealth can be, and its better of, when concentrated, although its power must result in a real gain for everything under its "field of gravity"...what we have now in turn are invisible black holes who do not create structure and complexity but destroy everything around them...
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:31 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
I tend to think of the greedy as those who have an obsessive desire to possess material simply for the sake of possession.


I think this is one of the more meaningful definitions of greed, but unfortunately the most difficult to discern.

In practice I think that people just tend to assume this quality based on the more observable trait of accumulated wealth.


Not sure why it needs to be easily discernable that someone is greedy.


Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:31 pm
...and just what is the power of government's these days I wonder ? where is it ? just look how Europe has to defend itself from some rating agency´s and their hidden agendas...
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:35 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Once again, i'm not faulting the individual for negotiating the best compensation package they can get. I'm faulting the coporate boards which allow such negotiated benefits.


I agree, it seems like we are all in a system where we are encouraged to maximize our consumption so I don't expect them to regulate themselves because nobody else seems to be expected to. I expect those representing the opposing interests to fight for them better than they have been (both in terms of executive compensation by boards as well as government regulation of enterprise). But it's hard for me to fault anyone in these systems for looking out for themselves because that seems to be fundamentally codified as fair play in the capitalist social contract.

Quote:
The failure of Soviet-styule communism has been taken by many to be a justification of capitalism, a confirmation of the superiority of capitalism. However, leaving aside that that ignores the inherent flaws of the Soviet system which had nothing to do with either political or economic ideology, that failure is not evidence of a lack of warts on the face of capitalism.


I think one of the cruel ironies is that the collective harnessing of individual greed can actually help the collective, while the collective distribution of responsibility can harm it. Capitalism is not without its warts, and I think there needs to be a balance that does, in fact, draw from more socialist positions.

Socialism isn't evil (which should go without saying, but as you know it's a slur to many Americans), it's just a less productive economic system but that has its merits over capitalism in key areas. I think it's worth trying to balance the concepts to try to achieve optimal results for a society. Out of all first world nations I think America might be the absolute worst in this regard and I would like to see somethings shift away from unregulated capitalism (for example, healthcare and education are my priorities, I want both largely socialized).
Ragman
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:35 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I'm not sure if it's my communication or not. I'll try again...last shot.

Quote:
If having much more than others is the quality that makes it unethical ..
"

It's not the sheer quantity and the volume of compensation alone which I take issue. It's the fact that being compensated in such a way...is done so at at the expense of others..many others. The average workers and their families become deeply affected when there's an inevitable layoff. And once again, when failure occurs. ...due to the compensation load on the company...of a company carring such a burden...invariably it results in workers being tossed out on the street.

However, if a CEO gets canned..he/she most often has a safe haven. Typically they get hired to the board of directors or as an officer of another mega-company.

At this point, if you're not seeing my point, I can't help explain myself any more clearly.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
As you expressed here, I see agreement:

Quote:
I think one of the cruel ironies is that the collective harnessing of individual greed can actually help the collective, while the collective distribution of responsibility can harm it. Capitalism is not without its warts, and I think there needs to be a balance that does, in fact, draw from more socialist positions.

Socialism isn't evil (which should go without saying, but as you know it's a slur to many Americans), it's just a less productive economic system but that has its merits over capitalism in key areas. I think it's worth trying to balance the concepts to try to achieve optimal results for a society. Out of all first world nations I think America might be the absolute worst in this regard and I would like to see somethings shift away from unregulated capitalism (for example, healthcare and education are my priorities, I want both largely socialized).


Also, along those lines..I'm not sure how this can be done w/o massive regulatory and enforcement problems, but regulating financial institutions that are 'too big to fail'.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 08:50 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
By the way, i don't see this as a "physician heal thyeself" situation. I don't look for corporate boards to cure these ills. It will probably take government regulation, and it would require broad interntional agreement on the terms, because otherwise you would just promote corporate flight to locales which were "compensation package friendly."


I completely agree about it being unrealistic to expect them to fix it. That's why I get frustrated that these protesters waste energy directing anger at Wall Street instead of their politicians (who often use the caricatures of Wall Street to curry favor with the main street and deflect from such anger at them in their roles).

But as you probably know, there is no way to ever achieve said international consensus to try to meaningfully limit compensation. The ability to freely negotiate any pay will always be offered by somebody and they'll just hole up there. To then address this would require a bit of an about-face on economic policy about globalism and free markets. I think it's not something easy to regulate but at the same time I think we have to. I think that it should be up to those companies to operate that way with the exception of when they are bailed out by the public. I think most companies that are bailed out by the public should become public companies and run in alignment with the public interests until such time as it makes sense to privatize them again.

It's the government's responsibility to insure the system against risk, but let's not guarantee the bets without any real consequences. We should make it very clear that any subsequent bailouts have very real strings attached. The easiest string to codify is actual control and ownership of the company (including compensation negotiation).
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...In full agreement with what you said in here regarding ceasing ownership of bailed out company´s and making them public for a while.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:17 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Not sure why it needs to be easily discernable that someone is greedy.


I suppose it doesn't. Unless, of course, greed is what you are campaigning against. I was trying to evaluate whether there were objective ways to discern the "greed" being alleged by bankers by the Occupy movement and trying to pin down what particular acts were considered greedy. That process led me to a more fundamental exploration of what we define greed in general to see if I could get to those answers from a more abstract approach. In some ways it seems to just be a subjective value judgement and nothing more, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. This is how I hold it to be, which is why I have little use for it myself in political discourse.

But I also think society needs to regulate its risk from self-interest which is somewhat like drawing the societal line for greed so I'm also trying to define what limits to the pursuit of self-interest we consider appropriate.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:30 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...but do you consider that governments still have true power these days ?
...to whom do they legislate bottom line, the citizens and their immediate concerns or to corporations and economic power who are the ones who can get them out of office more efficiently...votes like cattle turn left or right in the blink of an eye...you say government's must, but the question to me rather is, why they can´t ?
I would have liked to see a better analysis concerning the shift paradigm in traditional forms of power as a supporting wing in the entire argument...
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:31 pm
@Robert Gentel,
...but do you consider that governments still have true power these days ?
...to whom do they legislate bottom line, the citizens and their immediate concerns or to corporations and economic power who are the ones who can get them out of office more efficiently...votes like cattle turn left or right in the blink of an eye...you say government's must, but the question to me rather is, why they can´t ?
I would have liked to see a better analysis concerning the shift paradigm in traditional forms of power as a supporting wing in the entire argument...
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:35 pm
@Ragman,
Ragman wrote:
At this point, if you're not seeing my point, I can't help explain myself any more clearly.


I do not think we have a failure to communicate but rather that we have a failure to agree. And that's perfectly fine, we will survive. ;-)
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:38 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I completely agree about it being unrealistic to expect them to fix it. That's why I get frustrated that these protesters waste energy directing anger at Wall Street instead of their politicians (who often use the caricatures of Wall Street to curry favor with the main street and deflect from such anger at them in their roles).

But as you probably know, there is no way to ever achieve said international consensus to try to meaningfully limit compensation. The ability to freely negotiate any pay will always be offered by somebody and they'll just hole up there. To then address this would require a bit of an about-face on economic policy about globalism and free markets. I think it's not something easy to regulate but at the same time I think we have to. I think that it should be up to those companies to operate that way with the exception of when they are bailed out by the public. I think most companies that are bailed out by the public should become public companies and run in alignment with the public interests until such time as it makes sense to privatize them again.

It's the government's responsibility to insure the system against risk, but let's not guarantee the bets without any real consequences. We should make it very clear that any subsequent bailouts have very real strings attached. The easiest string to codify is actual control and ownership of the company (including compensation negotiation).


I don't see the point in arguing against compensation limits, because the chances of their being implemented on a global scale are simply nil.

I think you will find that most free market capitalists agree that the government should not be bailing out private corporations with taxpayer dollars.

The corporate mavens (on Wall Street and elsewhere) who seek and accept government bailouts are not worried, at the time, about wearing a certain team's cap or adhering to principle. They may be serving the best interests of their shareholders in seeking to avoid bankruptcy, but if they had been properly serving those interests all along, it's unlikely that they would have found themselves in the position of supplicant.

Those mavens who endorse the practice in anticipation of invoking it at some future date are not much different.

As a capitalist, I would prefer that the government not bail out a company, but if it ignores my wishes and does so anyway, I agree that very real strings must be attached and those strings must involve control of the company.

With such strings firmly attached I believe we will see far fewer companies seeking bailouts.

An economic crisis such as we've just experienced is not a regular affair and a problem is hardly a crisis if it can be easily managed, and so I don't know how much legitimate fault there is to find with the pilots like Hank Paulson who steered us through the rapids with white knuckled hands upon the wheel. To me though the process was not sufficiently transparent and involved too great a level of selectivity.

My concern in this area is the possibility of the government forcing companies to accept bailouts and the attached strings; thereby effectively achieving nationalization of an industry.




Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:49 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
...is there an alternative ? it may well be the case that the dead trees are far to many and the entire system collapses like a domino...I suspect to clean the mess in the forest the market self regulation mechanism would create a desert in its place...
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 09:55 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
I don't see the point in arguing against compensation limits, because the chances of their being implemented on a global scale are simply nil.


I agree. If you cap CEO pay they'll just stop calling themselves CEOs, you'll have to have take an increasingly tough approach, and essentially cap everyone's pay and so on. I honestly think that is an approach that comes close to deciding to revisit the fundamental ideology of the economic system and if you want a free market in any meaningful way because in a free market those restrictions can easily be worked around.

Quote:
My concern in this area is the possibility of the government forcing companies to accept bailouts and the attached strings; thereby effectively achieving nationalization of an industry.


The reason I think there should actually be triggers to force it is that if the bank truly is too big to fail they have leverage they can use, holding the economy hostage to the negotiation over the bailout. I don't think that the banks should be let to get that close to insolvency if they truly are too big to fail, so my preference is that new banking regulations address this with things like minimum capitalization requirements and a redline that allows the government to step in before it gets too dangerous. This way the government could not nationalize the industry on the backs of a political whim, but only in response to their near-insolvency.

But I don't want to play chicken with the economy again, that was part of why we got bum deals on the bailout negotiations. With more time and leverage we can get much better deals for the public bailout money, but if you leave it up to the banks they will wait till the last minute and will have all the leverage in negotiations again, being able to hold the economy hostage for a bailout that must be rapidly granted to save the world.

So I want a deal that establishes capitalization requirements and some kind of fundamental red line after which the public is allowed to step in as they have little incentive to capitulate too early if they are indeed too big to fail and know we won't call their bluffs.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 10:03 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Greed is such a loaded term and its application so subjective that I think any reform campaign would do well to find another label for the practices it was seeking to regulate.

Capitalism has been very good for America (as well as a host of other nations), but I don't think anyone believes that it is free of the dangers of excess and corruption, and very few who believe that it can be entirely self-regulating.

I don't think it's accurate, appropriate or even socially healthy though to develop or encourage a public portrait of capitalism as a powerful but raging beast which, if left unguarded and unchained, will devour every living thing in sight.

The swinging pendulum metaphor often is used when discussing regulation because it is so apt, and it's clear, at least to me, that periods of excessive regulation follow periods of excessive practices. That all of Corporate America may not be guilty of excessive practices however doesn't provide the non-offenders any immunity against the ill effects of excessive regulation, and these ill effects are not trivial. As in all things, balance is the key.
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  4  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 10:06 pm
@Robert Gentel,
A fair amount of behavior, commonly considered greed, can actually be attributed to a strong competitive nature. Some people just like to win ; money being the ultimate score card.
I could say that when it comes at the detriment of society, it becomes greed.
Or, when the score becomes more important than the game itself.
It is fairly simple to label someone like Bernie Madoff as greedy. Greedy people don't play fair.
In that sense, greed is a sickness, in which winning becomes more important than how you play the game, not limited to money. Cheating is the symptom of greed.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 10:44 pm
A technical schematics on the problem at hand concerning the Economic crisis we are going through and that probably will get worse ends up smelling as a smart option regarding the avoidance of less tangible questions that lye within in and that need better clarification and explanation..."regulation failed" is a far to easy, vague, and convenient assessment, to satisfy any inquisitive mind upon the roots of the entire thing, it amounts to state the obvious...to say that it was greed which is not untrue equally also sounds like making the old new...the problem was not with greed on itself which was always around but instead with the changing conditions of power itself and the mechanisms who classically were bounded to control it...on that regard no one seamed able or willing to spend a word go figure...anyway I end up feeling a tad disappointed avec la nouvelle cuisine presented...much wording and little substance, certainly a fat free meal...

Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2011 10:46 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
To then address this would require a bit of an about-face on economic policy about globalism and free markets.


This is at the core of the problem, and why i mentioned the attitude of capitalist vicotry (the chimera, really) with the collapse of the Soviet system. Even before that collapse, corporations were pulling up stakes and relocating to places without environmental and employee rights and benefits laws. Now, although they've largely failed, capital has tried to preach globalism as the new capitalist catechism, attempting to peddle the notion that globalism benefits us all, when its only intent is to provide capital the means of evading governmentally imposed responsibilities.

You're right about the Wall Street invaders, they're barking up the wrong tree. But politicians wouldn't listen to them anyway, because they don't pay for political campaigns, and they don't provide the perquisites and the post-political career employment which are ultimate goals of politicians. Politicians are a necessary evil which need to be as closely watched as capitalists.

There never has been truly free markets, because either capital or government have stacked the decks as much as possible--capital for individual benefit and governments for national benefits. Free trade, free markets is just sloganeering equivalent to the tripe the politicians peddle about terrorist threats or national interests in order to get what they and their capitalist masters want while attempting to provide cover for themselvces as being somehow responsible legislators and executives.

I fear for the future. Not our immediate future, and not even for the future of someone as young as you (i've not got that many years left, but you reasonably have 40 to 60 yeas to go). Far, far down the road, there may well be a terrible price to pay for the venality and cupidity of greedy men acting in cahoots with mealy-mouthed and hypocritical politicians. The American revolution was essentially a revolt of the middle class to return to and preserve the status quo ante of 1760. The French revolution was essentially a revolt of the middle class against monarchical incompetence, an inevitability of the system of monarchy--not every monarch is an Edward I or a Louis XIV, and incompetence is not only inevitable, but the more likely state.

There were two revolutions in Russia in 1917, although most people don't seem to understand that. The first was the Russian revolution in February (March by our calendar) which not only was not organized by any political party, but which the Bolsheviks in the Petrograd factories had attempted to forbid. Like the market women in Paris in 1789, though, the women in the factories in Petrograd in 1917 paid no attention to any man when they wanted bread to feed their families.

But revolutions at that level are inchoate, and almost never provide effective leadership from the class which either instigates them (Russia) or which is "rabbled-roused" to provide the foot soldiers of revolt (France). In Russia, the Russian revolution was succeeded by the Bolshevik revolution in October--Red October (November by our calendar). If this situation festers for another century or more, with all the effects of modern electronic communications, it could be far wider, far bloodier, and far more ripe for the kind of exploitation which Lenin did in Petrograd in 1917.

So i fear for the future. I usually don't attempt to predict based on history, but if i were to make any settled prediction about this, it would be to say that i'm very likely wrong about this--not that it won't happen and not that it won't be as bad (or worse) than i think, but that it will happen much sooner than i think.
0 Replies
 
 

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