Author Topic: In Praise of Greed  (Read 3785 times)

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Offline junebug72

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2013, 07:04:20 AM »
In this thread, we're currently having a knock-down-drag-out fight in which one of the participants insists that greed is responsible for the majority of the world's ills.  I'm going to take the opposing stance and point out the many benefits that I received because I decided not to be content with the absolute minimum.

This is what I managed to accomplish in the last 20 years or so, when I came to My senses and started putting My own needs at the top of the heap rather than being a long-suffering helpmeet to people who didn't appreciate what I was doing for them anyway:

  • It all started when I dropped a volunteer bookkeeping gig and turned down overtime at work.  Reclaimed enough free time to pursue a business certificate at a local college  and graduated with GPA of 4.3.
  • Using the knowledge from the Sales and Marketing courses at the college, made successful application into an IT program a couple of years later.  Salary went up considerably.
  • The IT job gave Me the financial means to get safely out of a bad marriage and save up for a deposit on a new house.
  • Took driver's lessons and bought a car, rather than sticking with bus or foot travel.  In addition to making it easy to bring home groceries and cat litter, this facilitated music lessons and karate classes and enabled Me to take jobs that required a car.  (I also don't think I would have built the 25-foot-long dragon sculpture in My front yard without access to a car, either -- Kind of hard to carry bags of concrete on the bus.)
  • After quitting My most recent IT job because of health issues, I found work as a medical transcriptionist.  This was a part-time gig through a temp agency.  I went looking for a second part-time job in the field.  This opened doors, and I ended up with a full-time permanent job with another large pay hike and fantastic benefits, and for which I gladly left the original temp job.
TL;DR version:  Education, divorce, career opportunities, driving, big-@ss dragon sculpture, purple belt in Shotokan karate, playing music all over Southern Manitoba, and money -- More than enough to share or give away.

I think greed and selfishness get a bad rap because of a scarcity mentality -- The idea that somehow there isn't enough to go around, rather than lots for everyone.  I think the universe is more than big enough for the most grandiose dreams, and that it's better to pursue those dreams than play at being altruistic and resenting every moment.

Comments, please, and/or personal anecdotes on how greed has made *your* life better.

Self preservation and greed are two different things goddess. You have not took more than you need. Do you praise greed at the gas pumps, grocery stores.  You don't have a problem with inhumane labor practices so corps. can profit 50 billion $ instead of 20. Or those people that have died from cancer because of fracking for gas and blasting off mountain tops that leaves communities water sources poisoned with carcinogens. You go ahead and praise greed.  Praise the greed in government whose only interest is big corps. that fund their campaigns, go ahead. That way when God belief defeats it you atheist can take no credit in bettering your world.

Tell all those children that have died from greed related pollutions how you praise greed. Do you praise murder too, rape, pediphilia? At least those monstrosity affects only a few, while greed affects us all.  Better yet go tell the ones that are still alive and fighting for their little precious lives what a friend you are to their murderer.

While you're praising greed tell those children in third world countries I've seen so many pictures of here how great greed is, I have a feeling they will disagree with you. Tell the families that have lost their homes because greedy corps found cheaper labor overseas, mostly women and children working in substandard conditions.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2013, 09:04:09 AM »
Self preservation and greed are two different things goddess. You have not took more than you need. Do you praise greed at the gas pumps, grocery stores.  You don't have a problem with inhumane labor practices so corps. can profit 50 billion $ instead of 20. Or those people that have died from cancer because of fracking for gas and blasting off mountain tops that leaves communities water sources poisoned with carcinogens. You go ahead and praise greed.  Praise the greed in government whose only interest is big corps. that fund their campaigns, go ahead. That way when God belief defeats it you atheist can take no credit in bettering your world.
What are the differences between self-preservation and greed?  Is it strictly a difference in magnitude, or are there other distinguishing characteristics?
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Tell all those children that have died from greed related pollutions how you praise greed. Do you praise murder too, rape, pediphilia? At least those monstrosity affects only a few, while greed affects us all.  Better yet go tell the ones that are still alive and fighting for their little precious lives what a friend you are to their murderer.

While you're praising greed tell those children in third world countries I've seen so many pictures of here how great greed is, I have a feeling they will disagree with you. Tell the families that have lost their homes because greedy corps found cheaper labor overseas, mostly women and children working in substandard conditions.
After I tell the family that they can keep their home because the greedy corporation decided to not use the cheaper labor overseas, what do I tell the families that are now going to starve to death overseas because no one can get a job?  That the greedy Americans and Europeans want to horde all of the jobs?  Problems are not always so cut'n'dry as to have but one fundamental cause.

edit: fixed conjugation issues
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 09:27:44 AM by jdawg70 »
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Offline Astreja

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2013, 12:55:11 PM »
Self preservation and greed are two different things goddess. You have not took more than you need.

Oh, yes I have!   I have a larder well stocked with spices.  I own more than one computer.  I have an E-book.  I buy chocolate bars on a regular basis.  I eat fast food.  I spend $30.00/hour on weekly music lessons with a private instructor.  I like to have a good bottle of whisky in the liquor cabinet.  These are not things that I "need" -- These are things that I want.

As for your ham-handed slander of My character, Junebug,  I'm tempted to outright sue you for literally everything you own for insinuating that I would be "a friend to a murderer."

You have 24 hours to post an unqualified apology in this thread.
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Offline Irish

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2013, 04:03:41 PM »
Greed and selfishness have so far got me a college degree and a spot in a professional school for my dream career simply because I want it for myself and not because I want it for someone else or someone wants it for me.

No, you got them because of long-term planning.

Yeah, I got them by the selfish and long-term planning to better my life.  Some things in life take planning and concerted effort and it is responsible people that can do so.

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People who only think of themselves, like sociopaths, usually don't care about any sort of long-term planning, unless they are weakly sociopathic.

I disagree.  Responsible and reasonable individuals who seek to better their life through education or finding a better job must do it in a long-term plan.  It takes effort, reason, and planning to achieve things that a person wants out of life. 

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Long-term planning is what's important, and the necessities of long-term planning lead to the necessity of ethics- treating other people well in order to prevent conflicts- which is altruism, not selfishness.

Treating other people well is benevolence, not altruism, and a selfish person can be both selfish and benevolent.  Altruism is the sacrifice or devotion to others instead of yourself.
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Offline Irish

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #33 on: May 02, 2013, 04:50:28 PM »
I have to respond.

[Calmly Irish]

You have not took more than you need.

She stated she has taken more than she needs and I cannot fault her for living her life the way she wants.  In fact I congratulate her.  Having ample luxuries in your life is not a fault or a vice nor is the effort it takes to achieve those things.

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Do you praise greed at the gas pumps, grocery stores.

I recognize the ideal that a company can charge me whatever price they want for their product.[1]  I also recognize, and so does the company, that I don't have to pay that company for their product.

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You don't have a problem with inhumane labor practices

Astreja never said that.  I'm sure she would have problems with inhumane labor practices and human rights violations.  Being selfish doesn't mean you're automatically an immoral brute.

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You don't have a problem with inhuman labor practices so corps. can profit 50 billion $ instead of 20.

If it's through inhumane labor practices then it's a problem.  If a company simply nets $30 billion in extra profit I call that good business.  It would be immoral to tell a company however large or small how much profit they can and cannot make.  Similarly it would be immoral to tell a man how much profit he can or cannot make from his job.

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Or those people that have died from cancer because of fracking for gas and blasting off mountain tops that leaves communities water sources poisoned with carcinogens.

Uhh... what?

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Do you praise murder too, rape, pediphilia?

This is one of those back-handed ad hominem thingies I smited you for.  A person who is selfish is just that: selfish.  It means they have high self-esteem for their self and does not mean they praise murder, rape, or pediphilia [sic].  Sheesh.

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Better yet go tell the ones that are still alive and fighting for their little precious lives what a friend you are to their murderer.

And this is one of those blatant ad hominem thingies I smited you for.

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Tell the families that have lost their homes because greedy corps found cheaper labor overseas, mostly women and children working in substandard conditions.

If it's a matter of sweat shops and inhumane conditions, yeah they're bad.  That's not an issue for me.  Finding cheaper labor for making your product is just good business, if it's of equal quality.  If you were a business person you would want to make the best product for the lowest cost.  If you could make the same product for less cost you would take it.  Why make Product A for 20x cost when you could make Product A for 10x cost?
 1. For the sake of it I'm ignoring anti-trust laws
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 05:32:27 PM by Irish »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2013, 04:52:04 PM »
Let me see if I can't illustrate this in a way junebug can understand.  She said (in another thread) that belief was not a bad thing, and I pointed out that it was also not a good thing.  Belief is a neutral thing - something that can be either good or bad depending on the nature of the believer.

Greed is much the same.  It is neither good nor bad in and of itself; it is neutral.  What effects it has, if any, depend on the character of the person exercising it.  So, Astreja, being basically good, does not do bad things in the name of greed.  Whereas a sleazy lawyer or a crooked politician or a drug dealer or whatever, do do bad things because of their greed.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2013, 05:09:32 PM »
If it's a matter of sweat shops and inhumane conditions, yeah they're bad.  That's not an issue for me.  Finding cheaper labor for making your product is just good business, if it's of equal quality.  If you were a business person you would want to make the best product for the lowest cost.  If you could make the same product for less cost you would take it.  Why make Product A for 20x cost when you could make Product A for 10x cost?

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this piece:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/howardhusock/2013/05/02/the-bangladesh-fire-and-corporate-social-responsibility/
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Offline Astreja

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2013, 05:36:02 PM »
So, Astreja, being basically good, does not do bad things in the name of greed.

Thanks; I needed to hear that.  I'm still pretty upset about Junebug tossing a stinkbomb into the conversation.

On the subject of sweatshops and the tragedy in Bangladesh, I regularly shop at a retailer that carries one of the lines implicated in the tragedy.  I was never a fan of the cheap soft goods in that part of the store, but now I get the creeps just walking in close proximity to that stuff.

Interesting Forbes article, too -- My takeaway was something I hadn't previously expected would be a problem:  We can try for standards enforcement overseas,  and even subsidize safety and health upgrades, but at the end of the day we have to consider the possibility that the home government could deliberately impede our efforts in the name of global competitiveness.  Without a dependable, non-corrupt and transparent system of oversight, I don't think we're going to make major inroads on the sweatshop problem any time soon.
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Offline Irish

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2013, 05:39:52 PM »
Let me see if I can't illustrate this in a way junebug can understand.  She said (in another thread) that belief was not a bad thing, and I pointed out that it was also not a good thing.  Belief is a neutral thing - something that can be either good or bad depending on the nature of the believer.

Greed is much the same.  It is neither good nor bad in and of itself; it is neutral.  What effects it has, if any, depend on the character of the person exercising it.  So, Astreja, being basically good, does not do bad things in the name of greed.  Whereas a sleazy lawyer or a crooked politician or a drug dealer or whatever, do do bad things because of their greed.

I completely agree.  Being selfish and looking after your own self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's what you find in your self-interest to be a good or bad thing.  If in the name of your self-interest you lie, cheat, steal, etc. it's immoral to do so; not by it being in your self-interest but what constitutes that self-interest.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2013, 06:13:47 PM »
Irish, I wish there was a way to put people on ignore. Seriously, you're gonna defend sweatshop labor as an economic calculation? Seriously?

Thank you for being a great argument against greed... Which is just typical. I find that always the best argument against selfishness is the callousness of its followers (e.g. Randians, New Age nuts, "positive thinking" wonks, and of course religion).
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 06:18:02 PM by Hierophant »

Offline Irish

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2013, 06:24:17 PM »
If it's a matter of sweat shops and inhumane conditions, yeah they're bad.  That's not an issue for me.  Finding cheaper labor for making your product is just good business, if it's of equal quality.  If you were a business person you would want to make the best product for the lowest cost.  If you could make the same product for less cost you would take it.  Why make Product A for 20x cost when you could make Product A for 10x cost?

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this piece:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/howardhusock/2013/05/02/the-bangladesh-fire-and-corporate-social-responsibility/

Sure.  Give me some time to read it.
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Offline Irish

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2013, 06:26:43 PM »
Irish, I wish there was a way to put people on ignore. Seriously, you're gonna defend sweatshop labor as an economic calculation? Seriously?

When and where did I defend sweatshop labor?  I specifically said:

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If it's a matter of sweat shops and inhumane conditions, yeah they're bad.

Doesn't really look like I'm supporting sweatshop labor, does it?

As far as the "economic calculation" goes it applies to any business to make the highest quality product for the lowest costs.  That statement doesn't endorse the company to mercilessly employ children in sweat shops to make their product.  It's just a statement of good business practices.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 06:36:57 PM by Irish »
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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2013, 07:00:05 PM »
Irish, I wish there was a way to put people on ignore. Seriously, you're gonna defend sweatshop labor as an economic calculation? Seriously?

Thank you for being a great argument against greed... Which is just typical. I find that always the best argument against selfishness is the callousness of its followers (e.g. Randians, New Age nuts, "positive thinking" wonks, and of course religion).

I read the same post you did and got a completely different point out of it.

Irish explained only the business economics, using the examples provided by junebug. He didn't pull then out of thin air to make a callous point, he made a business economics point using the examples junebug used in the first place.

It wasn't a moral position, it was an economic observation, and a valid one.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2013, 09:21:54 PM »
As far as the "economic calculation" goes it applies to any business to make the highest quality product for the lowest costs.  That statement doesn't endorse the company to mercilessly employ children in sweat shops to make their product.

The way to "make the highest quality product for the lowest costs" under neo-liberalism is to find the place in the world where you can produce the cheapest, and those places produce the cheapest because they have the worst labor laws. So your two statements directly contradict each other.

Greed kills. We just export the murder and maiming to TW countries. The fact that we are busy exporting our misery is the only reason why you and people like you on this thread can gloat about being "egoists." Hard to be an Ayn-Rand-thumping hyper-individualistic egoist when you're being worked like a dog, an outright labor slave, or being a TW farmer subjected to backbreaking labor so you can feed your family.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 09:25:26 PM by Hierophant »

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2013, 09:25:03 PM »
I'm not really sure I'd call the self-interested actions of posters here "greed."  Astreja taking a martial arts class doesn't seem to be the same sort of thing as a hedge fund operator pillaging people's pension funds and stashing the loot from multi-million dollar bonuses and stock options in the Caymans so they don't have to pay tax on it.  Astreja's examples mostly involve acquiring things she can use and enjoy, or things that enhance Her creative and personal potential in some way.  By their nature, those sorts of things will end up benefiting the people around Her anyway.  People who drive past Her house will see the giant dragon sculpture and receive the gift of its whimsy and beauty (Astreja: pics please? *puppy-dog eyes*).  The music classes may result in jam sessions with friends, or informal performances, or maybe even a musical career and global popularity for Her music.  Even if She only plays for Herself, She's still creating beauty.  Now consider a more extreme example than Astreja: Elon Musk.  Here's a guy with billions, who's using his money to build his own freaking space program!

I think that "greed-as-a-vice" emerges when the pursuit of "more" becomes less about self-improvement and doing cool things, and more about the competition for status and power.  The person who builds a hundred-bedroom mansion to impress the person who built a 90-bedroom mansion to impress them.  The person who wears a $2 million watch that doesn't look or tell time much better than a $200.00 Seiko, simply because it's a $2 million watch that inferior people can't afford.  The person who never gets to know their children because all their time goes into making more money, more money, more money.  The person who has millions or billions, and uses it to jigger the political process to concentrate yet more money and power into the hands of people like themselves.

Astreja's "greed" is mostly positive-sum.  My guess is that chances are pretty good that Her bottle of aged whiskey will be shared with a significant other and/or friends, simply because that's more fun than drinking alone.  Even if She does just keep it to Herself, no one else is hurt by it (I'm assuming She'll drink responsibly :) ).  Greed in pursuit of status and power on the other hand, is inherently zero-sum, or even negative-sum in the case of an Ebenezer Scrooge type whose obsession with wealth and power consumes them to the point that they'd actually be happier if they quit and joined a hippie commune.  A person can only enjoy superior status and power if other people are reduced in status and power relative to him/her.  If resources and energy are abundant, the status-competitor can only win if they can hoard enough to make them scarce for others.  If everyone can afford a solid-gold bathtub, the status-competitor doesn't win by having one.

I think greed and selfishness get a bad rap because of a scarcity mentality -- The idea that somehow there isn't enough to go around, rather than lots for everyone.  I think the universe is more than big enough for the most grandiose dreams, and that it's better to pursue those dreams than play at being altruistic and resenting every moment.

As much as I wish this was true, we don't have access to the universe.  In terms of practically-accessible resources and energy at scale, we are limited to those of one little planet.  The cheap, easily-accessible, high-EROEI[1] fossil fuels that made the lion's share of our current material abundance possible are starting to run short, along with other key resources like wild ocean fish, topsoil, and fresh water aquifers.  It's mathematically impossible to maintain permanent exponential economic growth on a finite planet.  So, I think it is for all practical intents and purposes certain that the problems of scarcity (not to mention climate change) will increase in the future.
 1. Energy Return On Energy Invested
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Offline Astreja

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2013, 11:35:45 PM »
People who drive past Her house will see the giant dragon sculpture and receive the gift of its whimsy and beauty (Astreja: pics please? *puppy-dog eyes*).

Ecce draco!


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The music classes may result in jam sessions with friends, or informal performances, or maybe even a musical career and global popularity for Her music.

Well, I'm getting there.  I regularly play 2nd or 3rd clarinet with several Winnipeg-based community concert bands (and keyboards for one of them as well), and we perform at festivals, seniors' homes and benefit concerts for various charities.

And the closest I ever get to drinking irresponsibly is PWI (Posting While Intoxicated).
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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #45 on: May 03, 2013, 12:12:23 AM »
^That.  Is.  Awesome! 
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #46 on: May 03, 2013, 03:37:17 AM »
Opting for a degree instead of giving all your money to a homeless person is not selfish......

I DID have a point when I started that post, but even before I got to the end I forgot where I was going with it - still can't remember!  It was something about a sliding scale between getting a degree entirely to help others, across to getting a degree entirely for yourself, but I can't recall now.

- - - - -

We've mentioned corporations and governments using "greed" to acheive greater profits at the expense of third world workers.  But by implication, that means almost everyone on the planet is likewise implicated.  Company A who makes sweatshirts at a huge profit off the backs of sweatshop workers will NOT continue to make those profits if everyone else says "nope - not buying from you".

Any yet, that doesn't happen - at least not usually in large enough numbers to make a difference.  A lot of the time, its because not enough people are prepared to say "I will pay twice the price for an ethically produced item".  Now if they are buying basic foodstuffs and nothing more, at the limits of their budget, then fine.  But a new sweatshirt?  There are vast amounts of clothing available in charity shops, or that we can trade second hand, but waaay too many people don't.  You don't NEED a sweatshirt that is new and in just the right colour.  A second hand one that's a different colour, with the logo of a sports team you don't care about, will keep you just as warm.

I would define "greed" as buying the new unnecessary item when you could pay less (and give away the excess) for an old one that doesn't quite tick all your taste buds.  But very few of us do.  None, I would guess, do it all the time (we all have PCs, I'm guessing - necessary?  Or something we could do without?)

Point being, we ALL have some level of greed, and we seem to have agreed that a "certain level" of greed is acceptable.  I'd be interested to know what the actual dollar value of that level is.  100 bedroom mansion - too greedy!  I live in a 4-bed house, where three rooms are slept in......too greedy?  Just a bit greedy?

It seems that the definition of "too greedy" tends too often to be "someone who has more than I do" (and heck, I've been guilty of that a time or three), which is why I would be interested to see if we can agree on a specific value.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #47 on: May 03, 2013, 04:19:48 AM »
We've mentioned corporations and governments using "greed" to acheive greater profits at the expense of third world workers.  But by implication, that means almost everyone on the planet is likewise implicated.
That is correct. Everyone who lives in a Western society that benefits from neo-liberalism is implicated in this system of misery-exportation. You and I are living on the backs of other people's suffering.

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Any yet, that doesn't happen - at least not usually in large enough numbers to make a difference.
You seem to be confusing responsibility with feeling responsible. Responsibility is a fact, feeling responsible is an emotional response which may or may not result from actual responsibility. Some people just don't care.

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Point being, we ALL have some level of greed, and we seem to have agreed that a "certain level" of greed is acceptable.
No, I have never agreed to any such thing. I have stated that my position is that greed is wrong, regardless of its end result. More exactly, greed for material resources, which is what we usually understand as greed.

Some people have made the case that we are not greedy enough for non-material benefits (such as compassion and dignity), and that greed applied across the board would be extremely beneficial to all societies. But I don't think that's what we're talking about here. We are merely talking about wealth and my-car-must-be-bigger-than-yours syndrome. I see nothing beneficial about that.

Do you really think that the runaway consumption program we're on, capitalism, neo-liberalism, consumeurism, "economic growth," call it what you want, that's depleting our planet's resources, is a good thing? Come on now. We're hurtling towards a brick wall and you people are busy cheering for the color you want to pain the wagon.

People here seem to believe there is a difference between personal greed ("just looking out for number one!" as if that explained anything) and institutionalized greed. But the former fuels the latter. Without everyone's petty desire to own a car, the car industry wouldn't survive, etc etc.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 06:09:33 AM by Hierophant »

Offline junebug72

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #48 on: May 03, 2013, 06:40:15 AM »
Self Interest is awesome! You just have to know what's in your best interest.

Is a strong successful society not in everybody's best interest? You know one w/o violence.
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Offline junebug72

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #49 on: May 03, 2013, 06:44:46 AM »
Opting for a degree instead of giving all your money to a homeless person is not selfish. In order to help others, you must be in a state of being able to help. If you are looking at this purely from a charity standpoint, having a degree will enable you to give far more money to charity in the long-term than giving away all your money now. Therefore, if you associate altruism with charity (which is incorrect, but I'm assuming that was the gist of your comment), the altruistic thing to do would be to get the degree.

Personally, I am not particularly interested in the "egoism v altruism" debate, because I think they are oversimplifications and obfuscations. The real issue is what ethical principles we should adopt, and why. Self-interest and selfishness are not ethical principle, therefore they are not even under the purview of such a debate at all. Making the debate "egoism v altruism" is just a way to slip self-interest under the radar, when it doesn't even belong there. Altruism is also far too vague a term to deserve much attention, I think.

To me the issue is whether greed is virtuous. My answer is no, for reasons already mentioned. The fact that greed is not always selfish does not change that.

It also lessens your chances of becoming poverty stricken. 
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Offline junebug72

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #50 on: May 03, 2013, 06:53:47 AM »
Self preservation and greed are two different things goddess. You have not took more than you need.

Oh, yes I have!   I have a larder well stocked with spices.  I own more than one computer.  I have an E-book.  I buy chocolate bars on a regular basis.  I eat fast food.  I spend $30.00/hour on weekly music lessons with a private instructor.  I like to have a good bottle of whisky in the liquor cabinet.  These are not things that I "need" -- These are things that I want.

As for your ham-handed slander of My character, Junebug,  I'm tempted to outright sue you for literally everything you own for insinuating that I would be "a friend to a murderer."

You have 24 hours to post an unqualified apology in this thread.

Greed is a murderer I will not apologize.
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Offline Astreja

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #51 on: May 03, 2013, 08:01:16 AM »
Greed is a murderer I will not apologize.

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Offline jdawg70

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #52 on: May 03, 2013, 08:34:24 AM »
I DID have a point when I started that post, but even before I got to the end I forgot where I was going with it - still can't remember!  It was something about a sliding scale between getting a degree entirely to help others, across to getting a degree entirely for yourself, but I can't recall now.

- - - - -

We've mentioned corporations and governments using "greed" to acheive greater profits at the expense of third world workers.  But by implication, that means almost everyone on the planet is likewise implicated.  Company A who makes sweatshirts at a huge profit off the backs of sweatshop workers will NOT continue to make those profits if everyone else says "nope - not buying from you".

Any yet, that doesn't happen - at least not usually in large enough numbers to make a difference.  A lot of the time, its because not enough people are prepared to say "I will pay twice the price for an ethically produced item".  Now if they are buying basic foodstuffs and nothing more, at the limits of their budget, then fine.  But a new sweatshirt?  There are vast amounts of clothing available in charity shops, or that we can trade second hand, but waaay too many people don't.  You don't NEED a sweatshirt that is new and in just the right colour.  A second hand one that's a different colour, with the logo of a sports team you don't care about, will keep you just as warm.

I would define "greed" as buying the new unnecessary item when you could pay less (and give away the excess) for an old one that doesn't quite tick all your taste buds.  But very few of us do.  None, I would guess, do it all the time (we all have PCs, I'm guessing - necessary?  Or something we could do without?)

Point being, we ALL have some level of greed, and we seem to have agreed that a "certain level" of greed is acceptable.  I'd be interested to know what the actual dollar value of that level is.  100 bedroom mansion - too greedy!  I live in a 4-bed house, where three rooms are slept in......too greedy?  Just a bit greedy?

It seems that the definition of "too greedy" tends too often to be "someone who has more than I do" (and heck, I've been guilty of that a time or three), which is why I would be interested to see if we can agree on a specific value.
Well, from that, I think a workable definition of the word 'greed' in this context could be:
The desire and/or acquisition of any potentially limited resource either without due consideration for consequences to others or in spite of negative consequences to others.

I propose that definition because from Astreja's original post, I didn't perceive anything that I would label as greed.  I think, by and large, people associate a negative connotation to greed, and it's because when they think of 'greed' they are thinking of something similar to what I defined.

Is that definition invalid or not useful in any way?
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Online Jag

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #53 on: May 03, 2013, 08:37:32 AM »
Greed is a murderer I will not apologize.

And this is why no conversation with you is getting anywhere. You mistake thinking you know what you're talking about with actually knowing what you are talking about. You confuse opinion with fact, constantly.

Seriously jb, either your reading comprehension sucks or you are prone to ridiculous presuppositions. And like it or not, you are badly lacking in critical thinking skills - that's probably not your fault, most people have to be taught to think critically, myself among them.

You leap to completely unfounded conclusions and hold to them, despite them being created from thin air. You made some appalling accusations against Astreja because you assumed ridiculous things to be truthful that she never said - YOU were out of line, not Astreja.

The fact that you likely don't even understand why is the real issue here. This has nothing to do with you being a believer among atheists, this is due to your own sloppy thinking.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2013, 08:44:18 AM »
http://www.ecotopia.com/webpress/stupidity/

screwtape posted this a while back in another thread, I think it can contribute to this discussion.

I believe junebug is complaining about bandits (people who cause harm to others in order to help themselves) when she talks about greed.  However, it is not bandits who are the real problem.  It is stupid people.  A society of perfect bandits would result in a stagnant society, but the point is it would be stagnant, not destructive.  It is stupid people - those who do more harm to others than they gain benefit from, or do harm while gaining no benefit at all, or even harm themselves in the process - who are the true bane of society.

I'll use Astreja again as an example.  She is not stupid, so she has figured out ways to use her greed to benefit herself while minimizing or even eliminating the harm she does to others.  Compare that to a sweatshop owner who uses children as workers, who can potentially do great harm to them while not gaining even an equivalent benefit to the harm he does.  I would consider such a person to be at least somewhat stupid, because they are causing a lot of harm for a relatively paltry benefit.

It is not greed itself which junebug is complaining about.  It is stupid greed, because it causes more harm than the benefits it gives.  Intelligent greed, by comparison, is a good thing, because it maximizes benefits while minimizing harm, and it is that which Astreja is praising in this thread, I think.

Online Jag

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2013, 08:52:15 AM »
Grow, raise. harvest, and/or produce your own food supply.
Harvest seeds (and critters if you consume meat) from nature to do the above.
Go everywhere on foot - unless you can provide a mechanical method of transportation that doesn't require the purchase of any material or a fuel source that cannot be produced by you alone.
Raise cotton or sheep (or similar) to produce fiber to spin into thread, to make into fabric to create your own clothing.
Grow and harvest lumber (or other material) to build your own shelter, again, seeded from nature, not a catalog, internet or store.

Anyone not doing all of the above, just to name a few, is contributing to the problem of greed as it's being defined and presented by junebug and Heirophant.

See how foolish this can get? Are you both hypocrites? I'm assuming you don't already do all the above, am I right?
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Online Jag

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2013, 08:55:20 AM »
It is not greed itself which junebug is complaining about.  It is stupid greed, because it causes more harm than the benefits it gives.

If she can ever learn to draw that distinction for herself, we may be able to have productive conversation with her. Her refusal to stop issuing blanket assertions without any qualifiers whatsoever is problematic.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: In Praise of Greed
« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2013, 08:56:56 AM »
Well, from that, I think a workable definition of the word 'greed' in this context could be:
The desire and/or acquisition of any potentially limited resource either without due consideration for consequences to others or in spite of negative consequences to others.

I propose that definition because from Astreja's original post, I didn't perceive anything that I would label as greed.  I think, by and large, people associate a negative connotation to greed, and it's because when they think of 'greed' they are thinking of something similar to what I defined.

Is that definition invalid or not useful in any way?

Hmm.  It approaches it - but suppose I said that my wife was a limited resource?  There's only one of her, after all, and I can say pretty definitely that when I was courting her (to use the quaint expression), the last thing I was considering was whether I would upset anyone else if I "grabbed her for myself" (apologies for the expression!).  Was that greed on my part?  If so, then more praise greed!

Of course, partners on the whole may not be limited (and she'd quite rightly thump me for called her a "resource".....), but you see my point?

If we restricted it to "material possessions" that might work better.....but if I'm bidding on ebay for a limited edition collector's whatever......there's limited numbers of those, and I can't recall ever stopping bidding just in case the other guy wants it for his dying child, or whatever.  So am I "greedy" in that situation as well?

Restricting the definition to "more than you NEED" is problematical as well, as I've said.  We NEED very little.

I'm just saying that its hard to define "greed".  We all pretty much know what it means, but it can be surprisingly hard to put into words, at least in my opinion.  Maybe I'm just greedy though?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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