When being raised I was taught this is a very malevolent characteristic some people have. If you have it then you aren’t the very good, selfless person you ought to be striving to be. Little discussion was made of the definition and, watching Scrooge McDuck cartoons as I did, I certainly believed all that was told me on this front. I wanted to work for no money, a lawyer who would be champion of the poor so I could aptly demonstrate how much I truly cared about people, not myself and certainly not money. The biggest question I never asked was, “Why is it bad to have lots of money?” The second worst was regarding what I would live on.
I had firmly ingrained within me that it was the ultimate sign of my goodness to be anti-bourgeois; to resent and vilify the wealthy, the haves and to wear my “have not” status as a badge of integrity. Greed is something that is forever lauded as the ultimate bad thing about those people who have. The want of something “excessive” for living being considered not only a bad thing, but something that is morally WRONG. To test this theory of mine, this newly burgeoning want of understanding words getting lobbed about in the popular media, I looked up the definition of greed online. It was quite as I feared. Here is the entirety of what I found at Merriam-Webster:
: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed
First question this brings to mind is this: Who decides what is excessive and what is needed? Is there some morality police with an accounting program setting up margins of savings over expense and debt that then says “You! Over there with the excess money/pez dispensers! You’re greedy! Now gimme all that you won’t need for the rest of the week/month/year”? Since I think we can all agree there is no such person I think it’s time we get in touch with our own greed and the very goodness it can symbolize.
Thus begins the Q & A portion of this program!
Do you want “more” than what you currently have? This can be financially or materially.
I want a pretty comfy life that has substantially less struggle in it regarding money than it currently does. [Yes, that is the house from Practical Magic. The only thing missing is a wonderful turret. Hmmm… turret.]
Do you want it in excessive amounts?
Yep. I make no bones about the fact that I would love to live a life of luxury when it came to certain concerns not being relevant to me anymore.
Are you willing to work for it?
Yes. Since money isn’t the end-all, be-all for me this must fit within the parameters of the things that matter more in my life than money. Currently that’s raising my family. A bountiful Christmas is wonderful, but if someone else is raising my kids the material gain does not even come close to the loss.
Do you consider this to be a selfish desire for excess?
Damn skippy. I don’t act in anyone’s interest other than my own.
Corporate greed is nothing more than a company acting in it’s own selfish interest for “excessive” funds (we call these things profits). Needless to say I have no qualm with this. At all. A company, and thus people who run them, are committed to that endeavor. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Where the big issues in current American society comes from are entitlement and corporatism.
Let me explain. Greed’s only defining motivation is in interest of the self. The notion of “excess” is not defined thereby leaving it up to an unknown entity to decide what that is in order to give the finger of blame a sense of righteous morality. To act in the interest of the self is not an issue all into it’s own. It should be considered a no-brainer. If we want to support those notions we believe in then we act in accordance with them. Now, the issue of entitlement comes down to “deserving” something not earned while corporatism is an act of survival in the US political climate. Both are bad and, in my opinion, malevolent forces. While both can be lumped into the category of greed each speaks to a motivation that is very vital we discuss. So, hang on to your hats! The next few weeks I’ll be posting about Corporatism, Entitlement and (heaven help me) Power.
Hart mentioned Enron in a previous comment thread and, for now, I’m going to say that would begin a conversation about ethics. While it’s fair to say the motivation could have been greed it strikes me as being far closer to covering one’s ass (lying) to show a business to be doing far better (now isn’t that an understatement) than it actually was. As this denotes lying, not even necessarily a sense of entitlement, the issue here isn’t in the seeking of monetary gain. I’m totally willing to (read: looking forward to) your opinions as it pertains to any of the above.
So, are you greedy?