Saturday, May 23, 2009

Greed's Saving Graces

When in a provocative mood I have proclaimed to liberals that greed is a virtue. When I make such a statement, you can see their face turn red with anger and almost see the steam come out of their ears. How can one say such a thing? How can greed be a virtue? Greed is one of the seven deadly sins. Greed is a desire for excessive wealth. Greed is the inappropriate desire for excessive wealth. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more wealth than what one needs or deserves. Greedy people commit immoral acts to take advantage of others. Greedy people raise the price of gas in the summer. Greedy people price gouge. The payday lender is greedy. Big corporations are greedy. The ticket scalper is greedy.

Maybe “greed” is an unnecessarily provocative word. But “self-interest” or the “profit-motive” is a virtue. I accept that we need morality to moderate “greed”, but even without morality in a free market, greed is moderated. I would contend that the profit motive or self-interest or “greed” feeds, clothes, houses, and heals more people than generosity and sharing and caring could ever do. While we should condemn unfair practices, failure to honor contracts, deception, and cheating, the desire to obtain excessive wealth is a not to be condemned. If all of the greedy sold all of their worldly processions and gave the money to the poor, we would have a lot more poor and the poor would starve.

In this article George Will examines greed and argues that when markets are allowed to operate, greed generates its own punishment.

George Will: Greed's Saving Graces - [excerpt] Greed, we are agreed, is bad. It also is strange. It has long been included among the Seven Deadly Sins, which suggests that it is a universal and perennial facet of the human fabric. But the quantity of it, at least in America, responds to political cycles.

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  1. Hi I just stopped by to drop on your Entrecard and wanted to let you know that you have been added to Blog Angel's All Above the Crease Drop List . I created the list because I was sick of wasting time trying to find people's Ecards. You and everyone on the list has their Entrecards in an easy to find location. Stop by and check it out.

  2. Yes, our Heavenly Father does indeed give us enough rope to hang ourselves.

  3. greed is good? Feh. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. The only thing to add would be an extended lecture in Game Theory.

    A reasonable conservative? I've heard that claim before. We will see if it's true or not.