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Is Greed inherintly bad, good, or both

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posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 03:56 PM
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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 to ATS.
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 (users.wfu.edu...&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 love.
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.




posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 03:57 PM
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This was shown when a massive earthquake shook Haiti back in 2010 and demolished most of it’s infrastructure and left many homeless and without jobs. Several relief programs were set up and massive amounts of relief funds were sent from the US and other countries to help rebuild. Due to corruption in Haiti almost all of those relief funds were funneled to their president and his friends and family and used for their own benefit ( www.huffingtonpost.com...). In America, these funds would have had to be accounted for and audits would have been done. Any corruption pointed out would have been punished and those “whistle blowers” would have been protected under the Oxley-Sarbanes act. Now, the people in Haiti are still fighting to get back a level playing field, but with no rules or regulations to help protect the people from unethical business practices and corruption, it seems to be an uphill battle.


So, what do you guys think, is greed inherently good, bad or both....

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:00 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

I would call it self-interest and rational action which, as it turns out, is best achieved by providing necessary lessoning of felt unease to other people.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:07 PM
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a reply to: greencmp

I would agree to that.
We tend to forget how beneficial one persons greed can actually be to the rest of us. Its hard regulate and dictate a societies ethics anyway, so I see this as a debate that needs to play out in America right now.

We need to have an honest discussion on the merits of greed, and where do we draw the line. But again, ethics aren't an easy thing regulate.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:10 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

Greed is never a good thing.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:14 PM
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a reply to: NewzNose

I invite you to watch the piece by Stossel linked in the OP.

I know that it carries an ugly meaning in most peoples minds, but greed has it's place.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:20 PM
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originally posted by: Chickensalad
a reply to: greencmp

I would agree to that.
We tend to forget how beneficial one persons greed can actually be to the rest of us. Its hard regulate and dictate a societies ethics anyway, so I see this as a debate that needs to play out in America right now.

We need to have an honest discussion on the merits of greed, and where do we draw the line. But again, ethics aren't an easy thing regulate.


Yes, it's a tough nut to crack. It is very easy to conflate economic competition with existential competition.

If we do not come to an agreement on a proposed trade, we simply part ways peacefully to find more equitable trades. We do not kill each other.

In a free market, no transaction takes place that is not mutually agreeable and beneficial.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:22 PM
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Greed is like addiction, the initial action is normally innocent enough, however it's the long term usage when the initial need is gone that leads to the problem.

Greed becomes inherently addictive, you end up wanting more and more based off the same values you once had that started it all.

It's one thing to be selfish and make sure you eat and have things you need, it's another to keep hording when you're stuffed while watching other's go hungry.

At what point is it good to stop being greedy and start being empathetic? I'd say immediately after starting to be greedy.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:26 PM
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a reply to: greencmp
"It is very easy to conflate economic competition with existential competition."

THIS!

Truth be told, it's the greed of the lower class that makes them feel unequal, and drives their idea of income distribution.
It truly is a greedy thought to think that you deserve the spoils of another's work, while at the same time calling them greedy for wanting to keep said spoils.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:29 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

"I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money."

-Thomas Sowell



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:36 PM
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It is bad.

Most definitions of 'greed' describe it as excessive. There is no problem with economical self benefit and self interest, but at some undefined point it crosses the line to 'excessive' - usually manifesting in unethical behaviour.

The philosophy of 'greed is good' is naturally self-perpetuating - greedy people want to rationalise their behaviour.

Your issue is more with your interpretation of the word.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:38 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

I did and I remain steadfast in my response. Greed is never a good thing.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:41 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

So you really meant to push your claim that greed has it's place. You don't have any interest in any other position.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:48 PM
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a reply to: NewzNose

I don't think you could have watch those videos in a matter of 14min considering that they're over 30min.....but ok.

I brought the subject up to hear others opinions, but with people not actually reading or looking at the points presented in the OP, I find it hard to have an actual discussion on the matter.

Healthy debate relies on both sides presenting a stance and you're absolutely ignoring my stance, so I'm not sure what it is that you expect from me.
edit on 27-12-2015 by Chickensalad because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:48 PM
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Assuming that it is greed that pushes people to be the brightest and the smartest....the best...

you mention paramedics, well, ya that is something that I think we would all agree that they provide us with a much needed and valued service. We would like our paramedics to be top of the class! The same could be said of our teachers, our childcare workers a quite a few other occupations. we trust these people with our children, with our health, ect....
the problem comes in though when those paramedics, teachers ect, aren't paid enough to actually be able to live a decent lifestyle while paying down the loans they took out to get the degree to be able to do the job. this could be seen a few years ago when teachers, they might have been great teachers, they might have loved teaching, but well, they left the field and entered the financial sector for more money.

somewhere there is a disconnect here. either there are other motivations urging people to be the best at what they do outside of greed, or well, we really do need to reconsider our paystructures in light of our true values. I mean personally I think that most would put more value into the service the teachers are giving us educating our children than we would in the wall street crooks, or those ceo's who are making more and more money by shipping our jobs overseas. If greed is the driving force, then we should be making those positions that we value and directly impact those things in our lives we care about the most the most rewarding positions there is so we can recruit the best to those fields. and well, the world just doesn't work that way does it.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:54 PM
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a reply to: BombDefined

Greed is defined as "intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food"

It's that 'selfish' part that I wish to discuss, or the ethics of greed in general. The act of being greedy is and can be construed as selfishness, but, is that not what drives most of us to succeed in any given situation. Is it not what has built society up to where we are...whether its us fulfilling our own needs, or trying to obtain that next tier on Maslows Hierarchy, it is our own personal greed that drives us.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:55 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

And this is why friendships don't really exist--due to greed. And jealousy. Greed is not love. Love is selfless, greed is selfish. Therefore greed is not good. But it is an inevitable part of the human condition because in some extreme cases, your greed can save your life. It's self-preservation. So in that respect it is good.

And no, in the quest for self-actualization, greed is NOT the driving factor. The driving factor is INTEGRITY. Maslow did not believe that greed was a good thing. In fact, greed will more than likely end you up in the "despair" category at the end of life, versus the "integrity" one. So I think you need to rethink your stance on that.
edit on 27-12-2015 by rukia because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 04:58 PM
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a reply to: dawnstar

Why isn't altruistic self-sacrifice enough of a reward?

There is a disconnect nay, a vast abysmal chasm between what is best for men and what men want.

The amazing accomplishment of market economies is to leverage the latter to serve the former.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 05:04 PM
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a reply to: Chickensalad

As I said, the majority of definitions label greed as 'excessive'. It just seems that you chose a specific definition to suit the argument.

Whilst the line where self-interest becomes excessive is certainly subjective, there is a difference, at least in concept.



posted on Dec, 27 2015 @ 05:06 PM
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a reply to: rukia
I don't think old Ted Turner is in the "despair" category. I think your seeing this with some rose colored glasses, which isn't all that bad truly. Some people are able to set aside their own needs for the sake of others, some aren't, that's why I say that it's hard to regulate ethics, because we don't all agree at the core to the standards that should be set.




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