This is a short activity I recently had to do for one of my business classes. With the current political issues involving Wall Street and financial
inequality, and then hearing Bernie Sanders throw the word greed around like it's going out of style, I thought this would be a great topic to bring
John Stossel on Greed
Here is a series of videos on YT that I was prompted to watch for this activity. It's actually a great piece by Stossel. If nothing, they're worth a
watch either way.
But, to the meat of this post-(this is a copy and paste of my written activity, with the questions being asked placed in for reference)
We trust complete strangers with our life because of their greed. Not because of their love.
This is the idea that those in a position to help us do so because it helps fulfill a certain self-interest of theirs. It’s the principal of greed
that drives those people to be better than competing peers; commonly it’s the idea of a better raise in pay or to be placed above others in a
competitive list. In a sense, it is the free-market at work on a smaller scale. The competition between peers forces those with an inherent greed to
work harder and smarter to overcome other competitors. Whether that be by better service or by better knowledge of the trade. This greedy competition,
in essence, will force those with less drive to the bottom and those with a higher drive in said market to the top. Just like in a free market on a
larger scale, it’s the greed that will separate the two. While they may both be providing the same service, the free market forces one above the
other. And greed is the main factor in deciding who wants to be on top. It will force the most greedy to seek out ways to improve and compete for that
top position, which may be beneficial to all involved; especially if it equates to more innovative approaches to the task or service. Nobody wants the
laziest, least driven paramedic to be the one that decides our fate in a pinch, just like nobody wants to purchase the least quality, least safe care.
When given the choice and opportunity, people will choose the best if at all possible. This is evident in Ford’s line of Pintos back in the late 70s
&Valuation/Papers/1999/Leggett-pinto.html). There was much controversy surrounding the car at the time because some
thought there was a safety issue with the fuel tank catching fire. While that claim was eventually unfounded, Ford pulled the car from production, not
because they truly cared much about people’s safety, but because the controversy was hurting profits and the company’s image. In the case of the
paramedics, and also car manufacturers, it may be our own lives at risk, or our perceived safety if we were forced to settle. Greed is what makes the
best, the best basically. If a car company put no effort into safety and quality, then it will not sell when compared to other options that are safer.
Given that car companies are in business to make a profit, they will then be forced to be better than competitors if they want to be a part of the
market. The greed of profits will drive the company to make changes in the quality and safety of their product. This can also be applied to our
paramedic analogy above, in that those that want that pay raise or that advancement in position will have to force themselves to be better than their
peers. They will have to work harder or even be innovative in their approach to be noticed by their bosses. This competition should, in theory, bring
us only the best and brightest paramedic when the time comes to need their service. So, it is really the greed of others that makes it easier for us
to trust them with our lives; even if it is an esoteric idea of service, it’s the greed that makes them better at what they do than others. We as a
society, without even considering it, assume that those trying to save our life are the best suited for the job, while it may be an idealistic view
that they are the best because they care for human life, it is truly the greed of fulfilling their own self-interests that makes them the best, not
How do private property rights channel greed into socially beneficial outcomes?
Private property rights are the rights given to an individual that allows him to do as he pleases with his own personal wealth and property. Most
people may never fully utilize these rights granted, while knowledgeable businessmen and entrepreneurs may take full advantage of them. Ted Turner for
instance, uses vast amounts of his land to breed and produce buffalo to sell on the market. A reality owner may use his land or buildings to rent out
space for other small businesses. These are examples of Adam Smith’s philosophies as described in his literature The Wealth of Nations. That is,
that it is imperative to the survival of an economy that people have the freedom to own land and property and to keep profits from working the land.
The greed of being rewarded for this work is what drives those to work the land and use their private property rights to gain wealth. This can become
beneficial to the economy and society by forming a system of jobs, based on needed goods and services to fulfill the self-interest of the investor. In
turn, this will stimulate the economic environment of all those involved in this system. In creating those jobs, it becomes easier for others in this
economic system to meet their own needs, which too are based on their own self-interests or greed. When Ted Turner decided to raise buffalo on his
land, he needed supplies; such as fencing, food, water tanks and medicines. Those were supplied to him by other businesses in the economy. He also
needed a workforce to run the ranch which also created jobs that weren’t there to begin with. Those needs were met by others that were only looking
out for their own good, yet it became beneficial to all involved.
What economic factors explain why Americans enjoy much more wealth than Haitians?
While Haiti does enjoy a somewhat Republic form of government, there are economic reasons for the poverty levels seen there when compared to America.
American businesses are more or less bound by ethical business practices while Haitian businesses are not. In the American business field, there are
many laws and regulations that are enforced to curb corruption and foul play, such as accounting laws and insider trading laws. Whereas in Haiti in is
a free for all with very little regulation on business practices. With this being the norm in Haiti, it isn’t seen so much as an ethics issue to
those in positions to abuse this economic system. More so, it as seen as just the way they do business. Ethics is described as- standards of moral
behavior that is accepted by society as right versus wrong. So, to those that have seen no other type of ethical system, what they perceive as right,
may not be perceived the same in America. There is also no protection for those that may see something as unethical and report such activity like
there is in America. This set up a system that makes it very easy for corruption to take place, and it’s almost expected. This also eliminates the
idea of a free market type of economy, wherein the consumers decide the fate of a company, allowing the corruption to become absolute...cont.