I’m sure you realize the majority of people consider greed an undesirable personality trait…especially when someone puts it into action. They are not open to questioning the truthfulness of their belief. Why question something that is common knowledge?
They need to ask themselves these questions: When a person displays greed in his interactions with others is this an unquestionably bad trait? Does greed always have undesirable social consequences?
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged) supplies us the following definitions.
- inordinate or all-consuming and usually reprehensible acquisitiveness for wealth or gain.
- extreme or voracious desire especially for food or drink.
Unfortunately, altruists, do-gooders and world-improvers apply this rather negative connotation to businessmen (businesswomen) who pursue profits…as if becoming wealthy by creating wealth is inherently evil. Let’s put this nonsense away forever. Fortunately, the philosophy of Objectivism unmasks altruism as an anti-life concoction of selflessness and self-sacrifice.
Here’s what the great objectivist Ayn Rand says about greed “If workers struggle for higher wages, this is hailed as “social gains”, if businessmen struggle for higher profits, this is damned as “selfish greed.” She just exposed what you can call contradictory thinking.
Methods of Acquiring Wealth
Basically, there are two methods to acquire wealth.
- By productive effort. An individual or organization trades value for value.
- By theft, fraud, violence against others, etc. An individual or organization extorts values from others.
Obviously, individuals who resort to criminal activities by stealing or extorting wealth from others use their greed in a negative manner. However, you do realize the institution of government expresses the most disastrous form of greed through their violent compulsion and coercion.
Hopefully, you know by now, the government creates no wealth of its own? The only ways it gains any is through the taxation of its productive citizens, obtaining it through inflation…or stealing purchasing power from its citizens by devaluing the currency.
I think you have to agree that ultimate greed rests with any entity that takes value from someone without giving any in return. If you’re a producer of wealth, I am certain that you feel the pain of expropriation.
If you are someone who obtains unearned “benefits” from the government…know that these come at the expense of wealth producing citizens. Innocent people sacrifice some of their life and liberty to support you. Of course, that’s the way altruists like it to be. If you don’t approve of slavery then you have to realize that it’s immoral for you to live at the expense of others.
You may wonder why the government grows and expands its sphere of influence at an unprecedented rate. Wonder no more. Most politicians and bureaucrats possess an insatiable greed for unearned benefits… immorally living at the expense of others. Their puny, evil minds know that no matter how unproductive and destructive their activities are…they can always rape and plunder the productive citizen with more taxes and inflation.
Webster’s definition of greed definitely applies to these perpetrators of theft and injustice. They have a voracious desire for unearned wealth…your wealth. In addition, these liberty violators force you to pay the bill when they satisfy their gluttonous desires for food and drink. Washington DC attracts altruists, irrational people and party animals of all stripes.
In an excellent article, Gary Galles states “Government has no power to eliminate scarcity.
In reality, scarcity is the cause of many of the difficult choices individuals face. However, governments prefer to find “greedy-bastard” bogeymen to blame. This allows governments to play as saviors rather than as the parasites causing the problems in order to benefit favored constituencies at others’ expense. But government has no power to eliminate scarcity.
Government, beyond its role of defending voluntary arrangements against force and fraud, only makes the effects of scarcity worse. It substitutes decisions by people with worse information and incentives, backed by the power of coercion, for decisions by people with better information and incentives. That is why it is actually government “solutions” that increase the influence of greedy bastards in society. After all, “greedy bastard” is an excellent description of someone who demands power over others without cost or their willing consent; and falsely blames others to gain it.”
Greed and the Businessman (Wealth Producer)
I’ll admit that my threshold for what I can withstand is tested when I hear people criticizing honest businessmen by calling them greedy… and disparaging the social system of capitalism.
Now I agree that businessmen who stand in the banquet line of unearned benefits for government favors at the expense of their competitors deserve to be attacked for their avariciousness. These predators are no friend of capitalism.
The businessman who succeeds on his own merit deserves honor and respect because he stands tall as a wealth producer. He creates values when he satisfies the consumers’ most urgent desires.
To call an individual who trades value for value greedy sinks as a gross misapplication of the term. We need to consider the following premises. Let’s say the businessman lives for his own sake, creating and producing just to please himself. Let’s even state that greed motivates his every action. Now let’s ask this question. Can anyone logically claim that this involves extorting values from others? If the consumers approve of his activities then he profits. And he has every right to make as much profit as the market will bear.
Joseph Sobran demonstrates how far the myths of greed have gone “’Need’ now means wanting someone else’s money. ‘Greed’ means wanting to keep your own. And ‘Compassion’ is when a politician arranges the transfer.
We can prove beyond any doubt that when a businessman in a capitalistic system profits, men and women benefit from his productive effort. He earns the profits he so rightfully deserves and the consumers have more of the goods and services that improve the quality of their lives. A secondary effect, although the businessman might consider this his primary motivation, is he lives with purpose, capturing the satisfaction of indulging in productive effort.
Politicians and bureaucrats acquire their wealth through theft and extortion. They produce no wealth. These parasites survive by confiscating it from productive citizens and consuming it—or by supplying unproductive citizens with lavish gifts in the form of money and (or) political favors. Is it any wonder that our economy is on the verge of collapse?
To refer to an honest businessman as greedy is immoral and unjust. To call a politician or bureaucrat greedy is much closer to the truth.
I guess you can state an objectivist…your author…just exposed the myths of greed. Actually, anyone who resorts to impeccable reasoning can do the same.
RA Meyer – The Objectivist Masters the Social Maze