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What is greed?
Old 11-05-2008, 10:20 AM   #1
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What is greed?

I've been reading over and over that one of the causes of the economic crisis was greed. The dictionary definition is:
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An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.
I've never really understood what is meant by excessive. In my book nobody deserves anything; the only right someone has to acquire something is to find another party willing to give or trade that something to them. And beyond subsistence level income, nobody really needs anything.

It's pretty clear to me that even the middle class consumes more than they "deserve" (because nobody deserves anything), and more than they "need" (because most people can lead dignified lives with much less).

So it all comes down to this word "excessive" in the definition. Are we talking excessive in a moral sense of greed hurting others, or in a practical sense of greed making your own life worse? If it's a moral issue, then why not name the specific form of immorality (e.g. theft, neglect, injury) rather than just calling it "greed". And if it's the practical issue of people working against themselves, lets just call it making stupid decisions.

I suppose what bothers me the most about the word "greed" is that it is usually used in a retrospective way; only after a decision ends up not working out is it called greedy. Nobody calls the hardworking recent immigrant who sends his kids to college by building a business from the ground up greedy. Even if it's a corner store whose profits are driven by cigarette and alcohol sales that destroy peoples lives. But if his business were to fail and the government were to bail him out, some might call him greedy.
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Old 11-05-2008, 12:57 PM   #2
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Answer: the engine of capitalistic enterprise, and one of the sources of America's high standard of living.


I agree with your post, obviously.
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Old 11-05-2008, 02:17 PM   #3
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Capitalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Capitalism
is the economic system in which the means of production are distributed to openly competing profit-seeking private persons and where investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are predominantly determined through the operation of a market economy in which anyone can participate in supply and demand and form contracts with each other, rather than by central economic planning.


====
Another way of defining capitalism; is the ability to take advantage of inefficiencies in the the marketplace. This process can go to extremes - too many capitalist rushing into a market driving down profit and leading to a shakeout of those who can not bear the competition.

The concept of greed is a subjective judgment not an objective principle. Associating the word greed with capitalism leads to a host of negative assumptions.

The motivator of capitalism is profit. Take away profit and people don't continue in a business. Have a large profit margin and many people go into that industry lowering the profit margin until a sustainable level is found. You might consider "Greed" as the step where there is a large profit margin - a step in the system.
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Old 11-05-2008, 02:31 PM   #4
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Old 11-05-2008, 03:16 PM   #5
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I define greed as living above your means,or taking something away from another to get ahead in life.I believe in karma.......I've seen it too many times in my life.

My belief is that you only go around once,so try to make the best of it,but I live at or below my means.Nothing wrong with the fancy sports car,yacht,or the mansion on a hill,IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT.
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Old 11-05-2008, 04:03 PM   #6
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I would define greed as the willingness to bend/break rules, violate established mores and customs, and/or to cause loss or harm to others for the sake of gaining more for oneself.
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Old 11-05-2008, 05:12 PM   #7
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Same as pornography, I know it when I see it.
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Old 11-05-2008, 05:19 PM   #8
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Greed IMHO is one of the two (and only two) motivations driving financial decision making by the masses. The other one is fear. When greed is running things, we get bubbles as people can't stand the thought that they might miss out on some profit opportunity. All the copy cats that pile on near the end are demonstrating excessive greed. Likewise the folks who cut corners on the law, cheat on property appraisals etc., more examples of excessive greed.

When some entrepreneurial person starts a great new business and hopes to make it big, ala Google with better searching, that is "good" greed.
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Old 11-05-2008, 05:45 PM   #9
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Greed is the inability to put the fair and just claims of the group above the desire for individual more.
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Old 11-05-2008, 07:44 PM   #10
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what i have is never enough, so i want what you have, and i'm a-gonna take it from ya. any questions?
or...greed is compulsive behavior in the " I want" department.
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Old 11-05-2008, 07:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
what i have is never enough, so i want what you have, and i'm a-gonna take it from ya. any questions?
or...greed is compulsive behavior in the " I want" department.
I think greed is one of those things that's not bad in small doses.
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:19 PM   #12
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greed is the opposite to generosity
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:48 PM   #13
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Greed is the opposite of altruism. Both in modest doses are good but carried to the extreme they are destructive. An example is working harder to achieve goals we have set for ER vs. never attaining enough finances to take care of our own simplistic needs due to do-gooder tendencies.

Moderation in all things and yes charity begins at home but it doesn't end there.
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:25 AM   #14
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This is always worth another viewing.

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