Greed is Bad

42 posts / 0 new
Last post
jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Greed is Bad

 

Right about now most are reciting what Milton Friedman or Gordon Gekko said about Greed, and will disagree with me or some may agree with me when I say "Greed is Bad."

Greed and Self-Interest are pervertedly intertwined and the distinctions between them are distorted and abused.  Self-Interest benefits: The Producer, Consumer, and Employee.  A free Market Capitalist system is fair and benefits those 3 factors.  Capitalism works on Self-Interest and fulfills one's self-preservation.  Capitalism is a moral system with respect for equal rights.  

Most People on this site are familiar with this Quote from the Movie Wall Street

''The point is, ladies and gentlemen, greed is good. Greed works, greed is right. . . . and greed, mark my words, will save not only Teldar Paper but the other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.''

 Powerful quote, but Greed didn't benefit Bernie Madoff and many like him, Greed did not benefit GM workers who's jobs got moved to mexico even though the company made the famous "Record Profits", Greed did not benefit the American People when The FED diminishes the purchasing power of our Countries Currency. 

When Greed is injected into Capitalism, the system starts to break down and socialism (a form of greed) manifests and destroys Capitalism.   We see this today, with more and more Big Government and Big Business killing Capitalism.  Big Business, I think is a word that can translate into "Monopoly" which goes against the invisible hand of this capitalistic country.  

I think most of us know how this game is played, Big Business sends lobbyists to Washington to cut deals with Senators and Congressmen to help give the people the illusion of Competition and rule of law while screwing Capitalism over and manifesting more Power, Money and Greed for Politicians and Big Business.  If that isn't true, then why do we have a Patent office, that paralyses technologies which could compete with oil cartels and many others in other industries?

 

"The difference between greed and self interest is like the difference between eating well and gluttony." Great Quote, forgot where I got it but does sum it up pretty well.

 

Greed is a SIN for a reason, it manifests the problems that we see today and will continue until we take the Greed out of Capitalism.

 

 

Ok I could write more but,  CAVS basketball starts in an hour and I am shifting into Game Mode.  

 



JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Greed is Bad

Typical bull market perspective...only its not 1987 anymore. 

(BTW....huge fan of Lebron, Shaq? well its not 1987 anymore)

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Greed is Bad

JK, excellent point.  I'd describe the difference this way...

Healthy self-interest is actually self-and-other-interest.  A healthy self doesn't try to destroy the other because the soul knows that destroys self as well.  A healthy self doesn't try to live in an isolated world without an other.  A healthy self recognizes the need for relationship with other...an academic way of saying a healthy self has the capacity to love. 

Greed on the other hand is self-interest handicapped with no ability for relationship, love, recognition of the other.  This is a self that confuses lust with love.  It's a narcisstic self-interest which destroys the other, and therefore the self. 

 

mainecooncat's picture
mainecooncat
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 7 2008
Posts: 488
Re: Greed is Bad

Well, sorry to some folks, but I have to chime in here on the multiple basketball references. As my handle indicates I reside in Maine (from Boston), so I'm obviously a Celts fan. All I can say guys is that it felt mighty fine to see the boys in green hand it to the one man show at the Q! I think Shaq will turn out to be more of a liability in the end unfortunately for Cleveland this year.

JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Greed is Bad, Basketball is Good

MCC,

Consider yourself lucky your not a Rocket fan....talk about bear markets.

mainecooncat's picture
mainecooncat
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 7 2008
Posts: 488
Re: Greed is Bad
strabes wrote:

JK, excellent point.  I'd describe the difference this way...

Healthy self-interest is actually self-and-other-interest.  A healthy self doesn't try to destroy the other because the soul knows that destroys self as well.  A healthy self doesn't try to live in an isolated world without an other.  A healthy self recognizes the need for relationship with other...an academic way of saying a healthy self has the capacity to love. 

Greed on the other hand is self-interest handicapped with no ability for relationship, love, recognition of the other.  This is a self that confuses lust with love.  It's a narcisstic self-interest which destroys the other, and therefore the self. 

 

Strabes, this is a thing of pure beauty. That you point out the (seemingly paradoxical to some) truth that others' interests are your own is music to my ears. This nuance is what Ayn Rand and much of her more extreme followers could never grasp.

 

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad

 

 

WOW SHAQ a LIABILITY?  Hmmm not sure if I agree with that.  Boston is solid this year and looked good last night.  As long as teams stay healthy, this NBA season is going to be beyond Amazing.  

I know it's early but NBA Finals = CAVS vs LAKERS.....Cavs victory.  But that's me.

mainecooncat's picture
mainecooncat
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 7 2008
Posts: 488
Re: Greed is Bad, Basketball is Good
JAG wrote:

MCC,

Consider yourself lucky your not a Rocket fan....talk about bear markets.

Oh, so you just like LeBron but aren't a Cavs fan. I see. Well, I like him to. As far as the Rockets go, they've had a lot of bad luck with injuries and the curse of David Stern -- it seems like the PR wing of the NBA has been pushing them as an elite team for years now (heavily featuring them in promotions, etc.) but the proof in the pudding just ain't to be found.

mainecooncat's picture
mainecooncat
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 7 2008
Posts: 488
Re: Greed is Bad
JK121 wrote:

 

 

WOW SHAQ a LIABILITY?  Hmmm not sure if I agree with that.  Boston is solid this year and looked good last night.  As long as teams stay healthy, this NBA season is going to be beyond Amazing.  

I know it's early but NBA Finals = CAVS vs LAKERS.....Cavs victory.  But that's me.

Here are my reasons:

1. The league has morphed into one with no true centers. Almost all positions are hybrid now. This means that most of the people Shaq has to guard are way too fast for him (it's not '95 anymore) and have outside games (Shaq on the high-post or perimeter, I don't think so). Think KG, 'Sheed, Pau Gasol, Turkoglu, Big Z (if he weren't on the Cavs!) and so on.

2. The man could never shoot free throws and still can't. This means Shaq -- who's placed in the category of all-time greats -- under no circumstance can act as your go-to guy down the stretch if your team's in the penalty. Granted, with LeBron on your team this isn't his role, but I thought that was one of the rationales for getting him -- having another legit superstar to fill in when LeBron's in a dip. This is their Achilles' Heel: in playoff games against the elite teams who don't make mistakes who scores when he's flat.

3. I've already mentioned his speed, but not only will it hurt the Cavs defensively it will also hurt them in their transition game.

I'm a fan of Shaq's, but I just see him clogging up Cleveland's mojo this year.

Otherwise I agree that we have a great year on tap. Finals: Lakers vs. Cavs/Celts. May the best team win.

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad

 

Interesting reasons, but Shaq did Help Dwyane Wade win a Title.

 

But I agree May the best team win.  

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Greed is Bad

Thanks maine.  I used to be a disciple of Rand and others but my gut knew something was wrong with that view, just like my head knew something was wrong with pure leftism on the other side.  Took me a long time to be able to reconcile my head with my gut by coming to the conclusion, which seems so simple today if only I had listened to my grandma as a kid, that self and other need each other so any self-interest that victimizes the other isn't self-interest at all.   [I know there are lots of free market types here, so I gotta quickly say that what I'm saying doesn't mean denial of self and subjugation to a dictatorial communal power ala Hillary's version of a "village."  That obviously destroys the self just as much as greed does] 

Sorry for interrupting...back to the NBA.  Laughing

JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Greed is Bad
strabes wrote:

JK, excellent point.  I'd describe the difference this way...

Healthy self-interest is actually self-and-other-interest.  A healthy self doesn't try to destroy the other because the soul knows that destroys self as well.  A healthy self doesn't try to live in an isolated world without an other.  A healthy self recognizes the need for relationship with other...an academic way of saying a healthy self has the capacity to love. 

Greed on the other hand is self-interest handicapped with no ability for relationship, love, recognition of the other.  This is a self that confuses lust with love.  It's a narcisstic self-interest which destroys the other, and therefore the self. 

 

+99 Trillion or the National Debt, whichever is bigger. 

It does my heart good to read such wisdom in this community.

Re: Basketball

MCC, I think the unjustified hype of the Rockets by the NBA is just marketing for the Chinese market. From what I know about Yao Ming, I really admire his humility and work ethic. But I'm actually looking forward to a season without him. Its excruciating to watch him play night in and night out because he is so freaking slow. I would love to see him (and the Rockets) do well, but after watching him for years, I don't see it happening.

Edit: As much as it kills me to write this.....San Antonio is my pick to be playing in July.

Thomas Hedin's picture
Thomas Hedin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 28 2009
Posts: 815
Re: Greed is Bad

And the most powerful tool ever invented to take greed to its maximum level it for an individual or group of people to create the medium of exchange as interest bearing loans.  There is no better or more power tool for that purpose.

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Greed is Bad

Quick followup to what I said about self-interest actually being self-and-other-interest...

Another way to put it is that a healthy self is wired to both give and receive, not just receive, not just take.  Greed is just taking...a trait of a very unhealthy self.  Such a self eventually withers away (the body may keep living, but the heart is dead, it lives parasitically) if it doesn't let down its defenses and turn toward the inner desire to reap the life-giving energy of giving and receiving in relationship.

 

 

Farmer Brown's picture
Farmer Brown
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 23 2008
Posts: 1503
Re: Greed is Bad

Not sure I understand the Rand reference here, or maybe I am not an "extreme Rand follower" that cannot understand having an interest in another person, but after reading Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead, I cannot see how that inference could be made of Rand's philosophy.

To me, it is quite simple:  Self-interest is a ubiquitous and unavoidable description of the driver for all human action.  Even a complete altruist contains within him the self interest of the satisfaction of his moral values that he obtains upon helping others.  

Greed is simply self-interest pursued and/or obtained through abuse of power, privilege of position (insider information or insider protection), or outright neglect of the law.

I have no idea how Love got into this conversation, so maybe I am an extreme "Randian".

 

 

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Greed is Bad

FB, whether they've got a warped view of objectivism that distorts Rand or not, a lot of "Randians" cheer on the likes of Gecko, the guys at Goldman, or all the little napoleans we never hear about in the Wall St firms that engage in transactions that hurt other people just to get a big commission.  People who think life is all about achievement and financial success talk about Rand.  Trump is the perfect embodiment of Rand to many people...a guy who said "this is what it's all about" when the contestants on the 1st apprentice show saw his gold apartment.  Really?  Life is all about a gold apartment?  Wow that's a deep fella.

It's famous for "Randians" to use Mother Theresa as an example of someone who was supposedly purely altruistic but was actually satisfying her self-interest.  I agree.  There are people who are in such self-denial as a result of some deep lingering guilt or something that they're actually engaging in self-indulgence.  Self-denial prevents healthy self-other experiences, relationships, and love, just as other-denial (related to greed) does. 

Greed doesn't require power, privilege, or breaking the law.  Poor underprivileged folks can be greedy.  It is just operating with a penchant to take, to possess, to acquire, disregarding the impact on others, on nature, on anything except satisfying the self's craving.  Does that help explain how love enters this discussion? Greed doesn't honor the other...it just takes from them, or ignores them like rounding error, or destroys them, or somehow harms them.  Another way to see how love enters the discussion:  lust is a version of greed applied to sexual objects.  Pursuing sex to conquer/possess the other person thereby dishonoring their personhood is lust, whereas loving sex enters into relationship with the other person.  Lust and greed see humans as objects, whereas love sees humans as subjects. 

Philosopher Martin Buber describes I-Thou vs. I-It perspectives.  I-Thou sees the other as a subject to be related to, to be enjoyed, to be loved, to experience giving and receiving with.  I-It sees the other as an object to be used, possessed, ignored, or dehumanized in some other way. We need both perspectives, but a life of pure I-It with no I-Thou is dead.  I recommend his book.  Takes a hundred pages to lay it out.  And I'll stop there...this is going way longer than I planned when I first entered this thread but wanted to respond. 

Somehow I think we're off the 3 E's.  :)

 

 

JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Greed is Bad
Farmer Brown wrote:

Even a complete altruist contains within him the self interest of the satisfaction of his moral values that he obtains upon helping others.  

IMO, this statement is accurate, but it should be acknowledged that there is a "self" beyond our own self-image/identity and its interests. Greed results from the lack of inner context.

I'll shut-up now.

rhare's picture
rhare
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2009
Posts: 1329
Re: Greed is Bad

I don't think greed is bad.  I think when you remove all restraining forces then the greedy will be allowed to obtain far more than they would if normal marketing forces were at work.  Let's look at some examples which you pointed out:

Bernie Madoff - Yes greedy, commited blatent fraud, so why was he able to get away with it?  Because other's peoples greed and dimished awareness of risks involved in giving someone all your money have been removed. How many investors actually due any due dilligence in the companies in which they invest?  I bet a vast majority of people skim prospectus, give money to their broker and don't give another thought.  Why?  I think it is because we have removed responsiblity for our own actions and pushed risk for our actions on to others.  We have the SEC who is going to save us from bad brokers, we have the FDIC that will save us from bad banks, we have the PBGC which saves us from bad employers.  When you remove the risk awareness you end up with people like Bernie taking advantage of  you.

Another example, the large banks, GSEs.  They behaved in risky behavior and the greed was unchecked because if they did anything wrong, the government would rescue them.  Investors assumed they are safe, for the same reasons mentioned above.  If you had a real risk that you would loose all your money if a bank went belly up, I can bet people would be a lot more careful on which banks they put their money into.

And finally we have the government.  With the FED removing all risk for over spending since they clearly will print as much money as needed, we now have the situtation we are in with a collapsing fiat money system.

So what to do, don't worry about greed.  Worry about all the places we have removed responsibility and reprecussions for ones actions and once those checks are back in place, greed will be much less of an issue.  Ithin the first place to start is to remove the power of moeny from the government:  1) allow competing currencies 2) repel legal tender laws, 3) allow gold/silver/other? to be used as money with no transaction taxes (capital gains)., 4) remove all government safety nets (FDIC, SEC, GPRC, SS, etc), and finally 5) enforce fraud and corruption laws agressively.

So, my take, greed isn't the problem, it's a symptom, and if we continue to treat it as the problem rather than a symptom, we will never get out of this mess.

TheRemnant's picture
TheRemnant
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 141
Re: Greed is Bad

This is an interesting topic (not the basketball part - I am not a sports fan ;) )

Strabes, I think you did an excellent job of making the distinction between self-interest and greed.  I too read a great deal of Ayn Rand, and although I don't slobber over every word she writes, she did an excellent job of bringing the individual to the forefront in a sea of politicians using cannabalistic phrases like "the common good", "the general welfare", or "the social contract" which was usually code-speak for ripping people off.

A true free market is a.k.a. a voluntary society.

There is greed.  Trade where the conditions of force/cercion or fraud is present.   If I force you to buy something I have at the point of a gun (or a third party I can call upon with the gun) that is not voluntary exchange/society.  It is theft.  If I sell you something where I misrepresented what I had to fool you into buying it, this is theft as well.

There is self-interest - the act of pursuing and attaining "plus factors" in their lives.  I was going to use the word "profit", but that has been conflated with a negative context these days.  Honest trade is where  A possesses something B wants, and B possesses something A wants.  A and B *MUST* value what they possess *LESS* than what the other has or no trade will take place.   Note that a true free market *DOES NOT* preclude charity.

My question is, if someone is greedy, how is it they are able to enable/realize their greed?  What tools of power/privilege do they use to realize their greed by force or fraud?

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad

 

Interesting take rhare.  

Could we also argue that self-interest mutates into greed?  Since monetarism rewards scarcity on multiple levels, is it safe to say greed is the end result of self-interest or some by-product?  I see a clear distinction between greed and self-interest, as I pointed out in my topic.  

The love for money is the root of all evil for a reason.  Is it right to assume that as long as we use a money system that we will always have greed?  Because a monetary system promotes scarcity, which can lead to aberrant behavior in society.  Is it not both money and greed that paralyzes technologies?  

If we patent and shelf technologies that could power our houses for pennies, is it not money and greed that would stop that technology from being developed?  Energy companies would not favor a technology that can compete on such a massive scale.  The abundance of scarcity, with incremental expansion of allowable technologies is what industry is after as far as I am concerned, but does that really serve the human element?

 

JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Greed is Bad, Rand? Maybe Not.

I must admit I haven't read much Rand, but if this definition of her philosophy is correct....

Objectivism is the philosophy developed by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist, Ayn Rand (1905–1982).[1] Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness; that individual persons are in direct contact with this reality through sensory perception; that human beings can gain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic; that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest; that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism; and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.

then I must agree with it. My argument against it was based on the false assumption that it implied "irrational" self-interest, much like a cancer cell in an organism. It seems to me, that a rational approach to self-interest would include consideration of one's actions within the larger context of the society (or organism) that it belongs to.

katyan's picture
katyan
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 46
Re: Greed is Bad

I love the distinction between greed and self-interest so eloquently described here, and the expansion of self-interest to include others.

It is great hubris to imagine that any person or entity succeeds on his/her/its own merits alone. It is sadly amusing to hear the person who has been raised within a safe and prosperous community, attended public schools, participated in thriving civic organizations, and built a successful company taking advantage of the largely publicly funded infrastructure of a skilled workforce, transportation network, utilities, and financial system, claim to have done it all on his/her own.

I would like to see the same person plopped into a poverty-stricken, politically unstable country with a crumbling infrastructure and rampant corruption duplicate that success there. A quotation from a World Business Council for Sustainable Development paper has stuck with me over the years:  "Business cannot succeed in societies that fail."

Our technologically-advanced, energy-guzzling, narcissistic society has masked and distorted our interdependence with other people, social networks, and the natural world to such an extent that our ego can rationalize that we are deserving of our rewards, no matter what the human or environmental costs, and no matter how obscenely excessive. We are willing to turn a blind eye to the extent to which the system is rigged, so long as it works in our favor.

It is not tree-hugging, Kumbaya-singing, socialist idealism to recognize that it is our self-interest to strive for a society in which every human being has dignity and legitimate opportunities, and which respects the integrity of the complex natural systems on which all life...and wealth...ulitmately depends.

Sorry! No basketball comments here. Despite living in North Carolina (the home of Shaq and other basketball greats), I'm totally clueless about the game.

 

 

TheRemnant's picture
TheRemnant
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 141
Re: Greed is Bad

 

JK121 wrote:

Could we also argue that self-interest mutates into greed?  

No.  Buying groceries is self-interest.  Taking a short cut to work is self-interest.  Giving to others is self interest.  Preparing for the economic tsunami is self interest.  Paying for a member subscription is self-interest.  Getting the picture?

The different between self-interest and greed is the presence of one exploiting another to their own ends where coercion/force/fraud are present.  Honest voluntary trade is not greed.  Both parties benefit from the transaction as it met their needs/wants at a particular point in time.

Consider the speculator:.  Often reviled, let's have a closer look.

Farmer Jones does his forecasting and speculates on the future price of a crop come harvest time.  Based on his analysis, he determines what he can grow via his own risk reward scenario - as he is the one who best knows.   Let's say he settles on a peanuts.  He determines that peanuts will be worth $1.50/pound at harvest.   At that price, he can make significant investments in his farm - the tool of production - for the following year.  He gets to work planting his peanut patch.

Along comes Speculator Smith who determines via his personal analysis that peanuts will be worth $2.00/pound come harvest time.  He approaches Farmer Jones and offers him a guaranteed $1.75/pound for his entire crop at harvest time.

Farmer Jones, excited at the prospect of realizing his self-interest (greed?) it over and agrees.    Assume Smith did not get Farmer Jones to sign a fraudulent contract.  It is exactly what it appears to be.  Note there is no coercion, no force, and no fraud.

What Smith has done is transferred risk to himself, and Jones now can have many restful nights, not worrying about volitility in peanut prices over the course of growning his peanuts.

Scenario 1) Harvest arrives, and Jones brings in all the peanuts from the field.  He checks the markets and discovers peanuts are $1/ pound.  He falls on his knees and thanks God he had the prudence to sign the contract with Smith.  Smith loses out because he volunatarily guessed wrong.  Smith pays Jones as agreed.  Jones uses that money to feed his family and invest further in his farm to increase productivity, or whatever Jones has to address on his "ladder" of relative values.

Scenario 2) Harvest arrives, and Jones brings in all the peanuts from the field.  He checks the markets and discovers peanuts are $2/ pound for various reasons.   He turns red with anger and curses Smith for cheating him out what he could have realized had he not had the stupidity of signing the contract.  He immediately forgets all those restful nights of sleep and curses "those damn speculators".  Smith pays Jones as agreed.  Jones tells him to "get the hell off my land and never come back".  He forgot that he voluntarily signed the contract of his own free-will, self-interest, and entirely free from the presence of coercion, force, or fraud.  He tells other farmers to beware of Speculator Smith as "he will take you to the cleaners!".  Other farmers, lamenting with Smith and respectful of him as an outstanding member of the community, immediately adopt the same perception....

JK121 wrote:

Since monetarism rewards scarcity on multiple levels, is it safe to say greed is the end result of self-interest or some by-product?

You need to understand what money is.    Money was not always the debt-based fiat system we know today where the government/banking cartel siezed the production of it and established a monopolistic paper/electronic enterprise backed by State violence.

What is money?  If you turn to textbooks, they usually give benign boring definitions like (1) "a medium of exchange", (2) "a store of value", and (3) "a unit of account".  What they screw up everytime is that if something is to be used as a medium of exchange, it automatically inherits the characteristics of (2) and (3).   Money was created out of demand in a free market, prior to being usurped by the government/banking cartel.

Money is a commodity that is universally accepted to trade for all other commodities.   Money allowed us to overcome the primative system of barter - a coincidence of wants - and allow for the division of labour as money could be saved to spend later and A did not have to have what B wanted exactly at the same time.  Money also provided pricing of commodities in relation to all other commodities.   For example, if 200 chickens is worth 1 television set, it could be equally said 1/200th of a television set is worth 1 chicken.  The former trade would be possible if an owner of a television set valued 200 chickens - assuming both parties were satisfied with the other's quality of the items; another barrier - at precisely the same time, in the same market (as the buyer and seller would have to know of the other), but the latter trade is impossible.  The owner of a TV set would not give the owner of chickens 1/200th of a TV set for one chicken.  Nor would the owner of chickens accept it, what good is 1/200th of a TV set?  Which part of it?

Money took the form of many commodities throughout history.  Salt, sea shells, wampum, tobacco,  whisky, and even manure.  However, as markets expanded and surplus of one commodity - say salt - was in so much abundance, it would displace the shortage of salt being used as money in a market where salt was scarce.  That make sense?

Eventually, over time, money as a commodity evolved into something all markets were scarce in - gold, silver, copper, etc as the metals met the characteristics:

  • Portable: a high value of unit weight.
  • Durable: This why fish sucks as money.
  • Fungible: A fancy way of saying interchangable.  That means that one weight of equal quality tradeable for another unit with the same weight and quality.
  • Divisible:  You can divide one unit in half and those two units will have exactly half the value.  You cannot do this with a diamond as 2 hlf carat diamonds will not total the value of a 1 carat diamond.  You can't make change for a piece of land.
  • Scarce: If it were plentiful, it wouldn't have value to others.
  • Above all, it should not be created out of thin air by Authority - but that is a whole other story.

Money doesn't reward scarcity.  It facilitates the transfer of goods and services to each other.

JK121 wrote:

The love for money is the root of all evil for a reason.  Is it right to assume that as long as we use a money system that we will always have greed?

No.  Someone who initiates force against you for what you have need not be for money.

JK121 wrote:

Because a monetary system promotes scarcity, which can lead to aberrant behavior in society.  Is it not both money and greed that paralyzes technologies?  

Some people exhibit abberant behavior with or without money.  One does not flow from the other.

No.  It is economic rent seeking and intellectual monopoly sought by individuals to ask the State to initate force against others that would dare to use their ideas.  James Watt, the inventor of steam engine, trolled for patents where people had to license his engine and could not take his idea and improve upon it.  Too long of a story here, but it is estimated is success by seeking State violence to protect his invention set the Inudstrial Revolution - prosperity - behind about 10 - 20 years, hurting the creation of new wealth we could have benefitted from.

JK121 wrote:

If we patent and shelf technologies that could power our houses for pennies, is it not money and greed that would stop that technology from being developed?  Energy companies would not favor a technology that can compete on such a massive scale.  The abundance of scarcity, with incremental expansion of allowable technologies is what industry is after as far as I am concerned, but does that really serve the human element?

You mention the abundance of scarcity but make no mention of the abundance of wealth?  Why is the focus on what you do not have as opposed to what you do have?  Allowable energies?  Who allows/denies them?   Hint:   Government is a disease that masquerades as its own cure.

The true free market takes care of the most of us best.  Is that the human element you refer to?

I have to run...

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad

 

Sure buying groceries and all that other stuff does not mutate people but, Self-interest did mutate for Madoff.  His self-interest satisfied himself(producer) and his customer(consumer), but over time he got greedy with an end result he deserves, for he crossed the line from self-interest to greed.

I mean look at Vader, he crossed to the dark side and that did not work out for him.  hahaha

As far as Speculators go, they are so far into the realm of greed, they would sell their own mothers for insider trading information.

Money does reward scarcity, the diamond industry is a perfect example.  Or Cars that can go 200 miles before a single charge or fueling are paralyzed because self-interest was dismantled by greed.  

 

Abundance of incremental scarcity in industry creates abundance of wealth. I just figured that was understood.  sorry.  

 

Want to write more, but gotta make it to the Driving Range and improve my short game.

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
But does this really make sense, in all cases?

Excellent insights, Strabes.

I am a bit suspicious of arguments that assert that since some altruistic behaviors are self-interested, therefore purely altruistic actions never exist.  This seems to me to be faulty logic.  While I quite agree that self-interested behaviors that masquerade as altruism are ubiquitous in our society, it does not necessary follow that all altruistic behavior is, at heart, selfish. 

It seems to me that the selfish/altruistic duality is really a continuum, with hoarding self-destruction at the extreme end of the self -interested half  of the spectrum, and sacrificing self for otherd at the other end.  Perhaps sacrificing immediate personal needs for the good of the group, with the expectation that this will ultimately serve the self is somewhere in the middle.

I find it hard to swallow that willful death in exchange for the life of another is self-serving in any way that has meaning in this world.  I have seen no evidence that this is possible for the human mind, on a purely self-interested level.  I have, however, seen cases of that sort of behavior when the love of something greater than self is more powerful than the concern for one's own physical well-being . . .

What I'm saying is that, while most acts masquerading as generosity may not be purely altruistic, that is, there may be identifiable self-interested motives, that does not rule out the possibility of acts that are purely out of love.  They are certainly rare, in our day and age, but they may occur.  The problem is that, in this world, only the person who performs these acts knows what their true motivation is.  Inability to physically prove a phenomenon does not disprove its existence. 

Therefore, when we assert that there are no purely selfless acts,  we run a very high likelihood of projecting our own beliefs onto the observation.  The danger is that we will wrongly negate the potential for humans to perform truly selfless loving acts.  This would be a trgedy of the greatest degree, as it would, by our beliefs, limit the heights to which the human spirit could soar.

 

Edit, to flesh out the concept.

rhare's picture
rhare
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2009
Posts: 1329
Re: Greed is Bad

Excellent comments by "TheRemnant", can't add much to those. :-)

jk121 wrote:

Money does reward scarcity, the diamond industry is a perfect example.  Or Cars that can go 200 miles before a single charge or fueling are paralyzed because self-interest was dismantled by greed.

I keep see people talk about how there are these electric cars that can go 200 miles and how greed killed them.  This is just hogwash.  Show me a battery technology that can store that much power, cheaply, and with low weight!  It doesn't exist, and there is a huge market not just in automobiles. There is no "big oil" to kill this technology in the field of electronics.  Hell, I can't get a battery to power my laptop for more than 8 hours or my cell phone for more than a day (granted, its a smartphone with lots on it).   Greed isn't why we don't have electric cars now, cost and lack of a adequate/affordable storage technology is why we don't have electric cars.  All the talk about how the GM EV1 was so great, but it was massively subsidized, same as the Prius early on, and the Honda insight.

For example, right now I'm building a solar PV system with battery backup.  I'm looking at about 8kWh of usable storage, about the same power you would need to drive 30-50 miles in an electric.  Here are the two options that are most affordable:

Flooded lead acid: Weight 1000+ lbs., need maintenance, venting, last about 10 years, and can be dangerous (hydrogen venting), cost: $6K

AGM batteries: Weight 1500 lbs, low maintenance, no venting, last about 5 years, cost: $9K

These are the two most cost effective solutions for battery storage, yet neither would work at all in a car.  For that you have to get even more exotic, like  Li-Ion  used in electonics, and then you have lots of new issues: high cost, fire issues with contamination/charging, environmental issues.  And these batteries are well researched and well funded by the consumer electonics industry.

So the point: Electric cars are not feasible, yet.  Even now a production electric car with reasonable range, the Tesla is $110K, it's built on a lotus frame, and the batteries are 50% of the cost using those well funded laptop batteries. that will dies in 5 years. I have hope we will get there, but to say greed stopped this from happening is misleading.  If anything "greed" in the electronics industry that has pushed for lower cost/high power batteries is what has got us this close.

Another thing on electric cars that relates to the third "E", environment.  I have seen a couple of reports that the exotic materials used in batteries electric motors, and solar cells does not exist on the planet in sufficient quantities to come close to meeting the demand and ideals being pushed by our govenments.  Going to be a hard shock when all these hopes are squashed due to that scarcity.

 

TheRemnant's picture
TheRemnant
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 141
Re: Greed is Bad
JK121 wrote:

Sure buying groceries and all that other stuff does not mutate people but, Self-interest did mutate for Madoff.  His self-interest satisfied himself(producer) and his customer(consumer), but over time he got greedy with an end result he deserves, for he crossed the line from self-interest to greed.

I mean look at Vader, he crossed to the dark side and that did not work out for him.  hahaha

Your original question was the generalization:

Could we also argue that self-interest mutates into greed?

Maybe I misunderstood you, the inference is a generalization that "All self-interest mutates into greed.",  which of course is nonsense.

As I explained before, self-interest is conscious desire and/or act of realizing that desire, provided no-one else is injured.   Greed is the conscious desire and act of realizing that desire, where the presence of force/fraud was used to injure others.

All too often, when one injures another, the element missing in the analysis is, "How did they do it?"  You cited Madoff - he simply modelled his Ponzi scheme off the Social Security System. SurprisedWhen Madoff was caught, all the investors with him were out to torch him.    Undoubtably they were swindled, but Madoff was paying out better returns than the market average!  If something is too good to be true, don't you get suspicious?  I do.  The subliminal message to the people was, "Madoff got caught!  Therefore, there is nothing corrupt about the system that enabled his greed!" when indeed the banking system, backed by the Fed is indeed immoral and corrupt.  The SEC lulls investors into a false sense of security, even though it was leaked the SEC had first filings on Madoff 10 years ago!   The first commodity to be traded in a regulated market are the regulators.

Madoff's victims thought they were members of a privileged group, who were lucky enough to invest with a genius like Bernard Madoff.  Some people were lucky enough to be reimbursed by the government for their losses.   Let's put that another way:  Higher taxes for everyone who didn't invest with Madoff!

JK121 wrote:

As far as Speculators go, they are so far into the realm of greed, they would sell their own mothers for insider trading information.

You speculate every single day.  People speculate to increase/decrease their satisfaction/discontent everyday.  Unfortunately, when we use the word "speculator", it conjures up images of Gecko gaming the system somehow.  We all speculate.  Chris Martenson is speculating the "next 20 years will be completely unlike the last 20 years".  Is he right?  I happen to agree with him, which is why I am here, but he is speculating as I am by agreeing with him when do my own critical thinking.  Speculating is simply taking a particular path of action based on a risk/reward analysis.  We do this constantly as individuals.  We'd be dead if we didn't.

Money does reward scarcity, the diamond industry is a perfect example.  Or Cars that can go 200 miles before a single charge or fueling are paralyzed because self-interest was dismantled by greed.  

Please define what you mean by money rewarding scarcity?     If demand outstrips supply on something, this is reflected in a higher price level, but a third cause is monetary inflation.

Which part of the diamond industry?  Industrial diamonds?  Or cosmetic?  If industrial diamonds, I disagree....they are quite abundant, in comparison with gemstone grade diamonds.    Cosmetic?  DeBeers controls the supply of diamonds and created the "Diamond is Forever".  It's pretty clever.  They created a demand for something relatively useless.  You know why they can charge such high prices?  Because the market is willing (stupid?) enough to pay it!    DeBeers managed to obtain a monopoly  in the beginning, but thanks to competition coming online from other sources who decided not to join the cartel (Russia, Canada, and Australia spring to mind), the monopoly was broken.

Given a free market, I can think of 4 types of competition:

- Direct: We know this best. Ice company A competes directly with ice company B, C, D, and so forth.

- Indirect: Ice company A competes with beer company B (as ice is usually added to mixed drinks, not beer), people who put those gel-pack thingys in their coolers instead of ice, or the person who makes their own ice at home.

- Dollar: Every product competes with every other pocket for the limited dollars in your pocket. If you spend on product A and have to forsake product B as you don't have the money, B loses out to A, right?

- Market: Any individual is free to enter or exit the ice business anywhere at any point in time.  There is no cartel or licensing body restricting who can enter the market, that restricts supply and drives up prices.

Now, I'll concede to all of you that the existing ice businesses would *LIKE* to obtain a monopoly, but, given a free market, how can they obtain it?

Abundance of incremental scarcity in industry creates abundance of wealth. I just figured that was understood.  sorry.  

Huh?   An abundance of scarcity is an abundance of wealth?  Are you conflating wealth with money?  Money is not wealth.  Relative wealth is the relative absence of improvrishment and vice versa.

Want to write more, but gotta make it to the Driving Range and improve my short game.

Have fun!

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad

 

I'm sure the patent office does not suppress technologies.  That would never ever happen.  And Politicians do not lie. 

TheRemnant's picture
TheRemnant
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 141
Re: Greed is Bad
JK121 wrote:

 

I'm sure the patent office does not suppress technologies.  That would never ever happen.  And Politicians do not lie. 

Technology can only be supressed by the State licensing monopoly.  Hint #2 (same as Hint #1): Government is a disease that masquerades as its own cure.

Intellectual property is not a valid form of property.  You need a monopoly on violence to enforce it.

jneo's picture
jneo
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 7 2009
Posts: 742
Re: Greed is Bad


Maybe I misunderstood you, the inference is a generalization that "All self-interest mutates into greed." 

I never said ALL turns into greed.  In the case of Madoff it did and there are many others too.  Just because he got caught does not mean a system is AOK.  

he simply modelled his Ponzi scheme off the Social Security System.  You nailed that one.  

Rewarding scarcity, yes I mean demand outstrips supply.  

"To good to be true", that should be the new slogan for the Obama Administration. 

Abundance of scarcity creates wealth in the sense that, Person A will obtain monetary gain from the scarcity of their products, which in turn obtains resources(real wealth) on multiple avenues, cars, equipment and so on.  So those dollars gained are tied to some physical asset or will be tied to some asset.  

 

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Greed is Bad

I feel kinda all over the place because it seems we're having several different discussions and I'm not sure how to succinctly respond...I guess just some random comments:

- Semantics: some of us are talking about different things when we say greed.  When I'm using the term, I'm not talking about anything that requires use of force, breaking laws, abusing someone less powerful, etc.  I'm simply talking about where the internal desire comes from...a place of darkness or a place of light.  Is it coming from a needy, destructive, narcissistic self or from a healthy self?  The former is greed...it has no problem violating others, nature, and self in the end.  The latter is self-interest.

- Regarding objectivism, I just don't think Rand expounded on the dichotomy above so I don't know where she stands on destructive greed vs. healthy self-interest.  I think she equates the two.  For example, she coldly demanded her husband allow her to have a sexual relationship with another man as part of their marriage...I don't know their relationship directly so I could be wrong, but that sounds so abusive, destructive, hateful to self and other.  I just don't know about her psychology.  I think her view of self-interest included greed, and if that's the case, I completely disagree with her.  

- Some are focused on the context of a commercial transaction, talking about the market, regulation, preventing illegal behavior.  I'm all for that but I'm discussing greed from a philosophical/psychological perspective (I'd add theological, but I can't on CM.com so a key part of my perspective can't be addressed here). I think these are 2 very different, but legitimate discussions.  

- The Hobbit provides a good example of greed vs. self-interest:  Smeagol/Gollum is a greedy, primitive self...he craves so badly, he MUST possess the ring, and that greed withers him away...it's a life-killing force.  That's not self-interest.  Frodo is a healthy self who doesn't lose awareness of "the other"...he can hold the ring without it consuming him.  That's a life-giving force.  We all have aspects of both in us...that's the power of movies like this.  

- I disagree that shopping for groceries is by definition not greedy.  It may be or may not be...depends on what's driving you at the time.  Look at the collective result of all of us thoughtlessly shopping for groceries...exponential growth, ecosystem destruction, collapse on the horizon.  I get plenty greedy.  I MUST possess/consume a couple cookies from Chocolati in Seattle at least once a week (usually 5 times a week!).  It doesn't hurt anybody on the surface.  It's not illegal.  I don't take it by force.  But the internal desire doesn't come from a healthy place.  It's the kind of thing I know is a life-killing force, but I'm willing to give into that craving.  I would suggest that is self-denial, not honoring my self, treating my self as an object to have cravings met.  It hurts me, and others who would be in relationship with me. It's not self-interest.  So the greed I'm talking about isn't limited to Madoff, breaking laws, or going obviously way over the top.  Suggesting Madoff is where greed resides is risky because it allows us to say "oh, I'm fine, it's THOSE people" rather than being aware of the greed that's in us as well.  

- Cloudfire I agree and didn't mean to claim there is no such thing as altruism.  I don't define it as selflessness though.  So I tend to think someone that claims to totally sacrifice self (earthly humans aren't capable of that) is actually self-indulging their guilt/shame.  Without a self there can be no love.  I think self needs to be honored in addition to honoring and respecting other.   I like your continuum idea, but wouldn't characterize the middle as serving others so that it eventually serves self...that still feels separate and selfish, either/or.  I see it as a both/and.  I would describe it as self and other encountering each other, Buber's I-Thou moment, coming together in relationship, which then almost shifts the linear continuum into 3D space and gives us a glimpse of the transcendent.  

- katyan, I like your points.  I used to think I was a self-made man.  Ha.  How childish and arrogant I was.  I like your use of the term narcissistic. That's the point I'm trying to make without being too technical...narcissism is the difference between greed/selfishness and self-interest.  I wonder if Ayn Rand was so narcissistic (we all have a degree of it) that she equated the two.  I've seen it in too many people at the top of the business world...it's not self-interest...those people are dead.  Narcissism destroys "otherness" and therefore destroys self because self can't be in isolation without dying.  Narcissism hates self.  Narcissism converts hunger to gluttony, attraction to lust, desire to greed, etc.  

- JK, I don't think money is the cause, but it certainly is a system that can reward narcissism/greed to a degree that would otherwise not happen so easily.  In earlier systems it required physical attack or domination of others.  Today it just requires being a debt peddler or being able to manipulate in the short-term for a big commission check.  Madoff did well in today's system.  In a prior life he would've just been a pathetic waif that got clubbed over the head by a bigger caveman.  :)  

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments