Monday, June 13, 2005

Moron Greed

. . . sorry, that should be "More on Greed" - over on the Energy Resources list. The era (error?) of capitalism continues unabated . . .

> If greed is not self interest, consider this. Average
> wages for an American in 2001 where $29,000.
> Obviously, if you make more than this it must be
> greed, right, unless you refuse your pay raise or
> donate it to the government for taxes. (of course, I
> have now idea what you make, but I don't make that
> much). I say greed can make the whole pie bigger by
> creating new products and ideas that improve peoples
> lives.

I make around £12,000 p.a. - not sure what that is in $US. One option you haven't considered is that you accept your pay rise, then reduce your working hours so that you can spend time chopping logs, growing food and looking after your family. Or use the extra money to pay off your mortage and other debts, and then quit your job to do the above.

Wanting to have enough to live on comfortably isn't greed, it's natural. But after a certain point, more material possessions actually begin to reduce the quality of life, rather than improve it - I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of diminishing returns. That's why I work part-time, and spend my spare time on the above activities, rather than earning £24,000, driving a big car, and jetting off around the world three times a year. In the long run, those things turn out to be liabilities rather than assets. Self-interest lies in moderation, not greed.

In reality, the "pie" from which we all must eat is our resource base. I fail to see how greed can increase the size of our resource base. Shortage of supply is the underlying reality behind human economic existence on Earth.

Maybe you can illustrate for us some circumstances in which one person taking part of someone else's slice of the 'pie' has resulted in a product or idea which has improved the lives of people across the globe, irrespective of status, to make your point more clearly.

> It is not greed which has driven our existence on
> earth to the brink of catastrophe, it overpopulation.
> The societies guiltiest of overbreeding are those that
> have the fewest capital resources. Even in the USA,
> it is generally the poorest that have the largest
> families. Is this coincidence.

No - it is no coincidence. Poverty is the flip side of greed. You can see it in the Middle East, where a few greedy people hoard the wealth they accumulate by selling off their country's natural resources, and do not use it to lift their people out of poverty. This means that ordinary people, instead of being able to rely on a health care system, education etc to support them, need to have families as large as possible to support them. Where you find greed, you will find poverty and overpopulation. You need to look at *why* people have a lack of capital resources. Is it because they have been disenfranchised by the greedy? Eskimos don't have many capital resources, yet surely they have one of the most sustainable lifestyles and lowest birth rates around! How do *they* figure in your argument?

I am not a communist, or even a socialist in the traditional sense, but an interesting case in point would be China, a country built on anti-greed,pro-equal distribution of wealth principles. A country which has brought its birth rate right down by introducing state controls on birth. By your reckoning, their policies should result in overpopulation. In fact, those countries with the highest birth rates are those most closely affiliated with capitalism. Greed needs poverty in order to exist, just like murder needs a victim. Excess in a greedy society requires slave labour elsewhere.

Again, Russia, after a century of socialism, has one of the fastest declining birth rates (and indeed populations) in the world - more so than the USA. How do *they* fit into your argument?

> Keith and Mick said "I'm free to do what I want any
> old time." By that definition, greed is not a
> violation of freedom.

By that definition, neither is murder! Do you have a scientific definition of 'freedom' for us here?

>> > Greed is the violation of freedom, and, as the book
> > says, the wages of greed
> > are death - either of the society, or of the
> > individual, or both.

> This is Roman 6:23. The correct quote is "For the
> wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal
> life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You should be
> embarrassed when an atheist catches you misquoting the
> book.

I wasn't making a quote, just communicating a truth. It is clear from elsewhere in that book that greed is a 'sin' - i.e. a crime against both one's self and one's neighbour:-

"You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - Exodus 20:17

Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke12:15

I refer to that book as a reference for the truth, not vice versa. The fruits of greed are self-evident on our planet and in our society. Just look at the burden the 'diseases of the rich' put on our otherwise awesomely equipped health care systems.

I read a good quote recently:- "capitalism is a very well-organised system,the purpose of which is to turn natural resources into garbage". And as anyone familiar with systems theory will know, "the purpose of a system is what it *does*".

>> > Thus, self-interest (i.e. life not death) lies in
> > moderation rather than greed.
> >>

> Modern governmental agencies attempted to distribute
> food to famine areas for free. What incentive do they
> have to hurry food to the famine area. I think food
> would arrive much faster in an uninterfered with free
> market. However, the government steps in and
> interfers with the marketplace to appease the people
> who feel they are being cheated. This discourages
> people who would otherwise speed food to the famine
> area. But don't take my word for it. Thomas Sowell,
> Basic Economics, Pg 40.

In your example, what would the starving people pay in exchange for food?

Who are the people you say 'feel they are being cheated'? People who are starving to death?

I haven't read Sowell's "Basic Economics", but I would suggest that basic human decency says that if people are starving to death, you feed them. And then provide them with the means to prevent the situation arising again.Well, as long as that doesn't result in your starving to death yourself, of course. Am I wrong? Who knows - they may even return the favour one day.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

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3:28 am  

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