Greed is the driving factor in the United States economy. The desire for more whether it be money, knowledge, success, or fame is what causes the development in the United States. Gordon Gekko once said “Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” I believe this to be an accurate statement about the business world and how continuous improvements are made because of greed. Greed is based on self-interest, but it is self interest that drives the economy, much like the invisible hand that balances the economy. Even when greed is used in a corrupt way, this action can benefit the economy overall.
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While greed may be good for economies, it may not be so good for individuals. A person who is consumed by greed becomes completely focused on the object of his greed. Life is reduced to a quest to accumulate and hoard as much as possible of whatever it is. Even though this person has met his every reasonable need and more, they are unable to adapt and redirect their drive and desire. Greed can come from early negative experiences like parental inconsistency, abuse, or neglect. Later on in life, these feelings of anxiety and weakness coincide with low self-esteem. This can lead someone to fixate on a specific substitute for what was needed but could not be obtained. The pursuit and gathering of the substitute not only makes up for the loss, but it also provides comfort and reassurance. This comfort and reassurance distract us from feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness that was felt earlier in life. In this instance life is a choice between greed and fear. The people who steer towards fear do not accomplish as much due to avoiding any kind of spotlight and attention. The ones who steer towards greed are consumed in self-interest which can result in good outcomes but depending on how this greed is carried out, bad outcomes are a possibility.
The mindset that greed is good was not only followed by Gordon Gekko, Ronald Regan was an advocate of greed, but it was referred to as laissez-faire economics. Laissez-faire economics is a French term that translated to leave it alone. The idea behind this was the less the government is involved in the economy, the better off business will be and by connection, the better off society will be. Ronald Regan believed the free market and capitalism would solve the nation’s issues. This type of economic approach also known as Reaganomics which focused on reducing government spending, taxes, and regulation. The objective was to allow the forces of supply and demand to rule the market without any discrepancy from an outside variable. This led to the deregulation of banking which led to the savings and loan collapse in 1989, and the deregulation of the airline industry which creating today’s low-cost and low-comfort airline industry. During Ronald Regan’s time in office government spending increased 2.5 percent annually and he more than doubled the nations debt. I believe he had the correct mindset, but the government did not have as much of a “hand off’ approach as Ronald Regan needed. The government has always intervened through its spending and tax policies. An example of this can be shown in the United States history with intervening; The United States incurred debt to pay for the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton imposed tariffs and taxes to pay for debt incurred from the Revolutionary War. Even on a smaller scale, the government restricted the free market by taxing certain goods and not taxing other goods. These factors and many others disturbed the results if greed could benefit the United States economy.
A common misconception is that Greed is malicious and does not help anyone but the person committing the act. Dishonesty is a common outcome of greed, as is envy and spite. Greed is also associated with negative emotional states such as stress, anxiety, exhaustion, depression, despair, and with behaviors such like gambling, hoarding, and theft. By overcoming reason, and compassion, greed undoes family and community ties and undermines the values our society is structured on. Another negative rumor related to greed is, people who are money hungry are more likely to believe that waiting to save until later in life to save is an acceptable idea. A belief that has grown even more from this mindset is that lower bond yields make it harder to buy a retirement income. In consequence, people are less likely to contribute to any retirement plan and less likely to contribute the recommended 6% of their income into a 401k plan. Those who were unselfish cared less about money were more likely to adopt better strategies and pay regular amounts into diversified retirement plans with constant allocations. Such plans effectively require taking some profits at the top and buying when securities are cheap.
Greed is a flawed force, it is the only consistent human motivation, and it produces preferable economic and social outcomes. Unlike Greed, unselfishness is a mature and advanced capability. Greed is an instinctive and democratic impulse and it has be suited to be simplified for consumer to better understand. Unselfishness does attract our appreciation from the people, but it is greed that society encourages and rewards. Greed is what delivers the goods and services the United States has come to depend on. Whether we like it or not, our society operates on greed, and without greed the United States would not be the powerhouse country it is. Greed seems to be the driving force behind all successful societies, and modern political systems designed to check or remove it have ended in failure. The United States embraces the greed by thriving with capitalistic economy, a trait that is often compared to greed. The 20th century economist Milton Friedman has argued that the problem of social organization is not to eradicate greed, but to set up an arrangement under which it does the least harm. For Friedman, capitalism is just that kind of system.
In today’s world, it so happens that our lack of culture is in a state of instability and crisis which places a high value on materialism and by extension greed. Our culture’s emphasis on greed is such that people are no longer satisfied with obtaining the goal but caught up in the pursuit of the goal. Once the goal is accomplished, the next goal is immediately created in order to continue the path of success. People do not take the time to appreciate their current accomplishment but are concerned with what is next and what is better than the current situation they are in. Today, the object of desire is no longer satisfaction, but desire itself. It is as if greed is programmed into our genes because in the course of evolution, it has shown to promote survival. In order to be more successful, you must be better than the surrounding competitors. This means once one accomplishment has been achieved the next accomplishment should be in the forecast if you want to continue to be more successful than your competition. Without greed, a person may lack the motivation to build or achieve and may also be more vulnerable to the greed of others. If one is more determined in their self-interest than their competition, they will be more successful.
Every major company has greed for more business, more money, more investors, more everything. While this can be taken as an issue for the American consumer, this type of company greed is what causes them to offer the low prices for products/services to the customer. The desire for more business coincides with having to offer a better deal than the competitor. The greed from the consumers perspective is to find the cheapest offer and to purchase through the company that offers the best price. This type of greed benefits both the consumer and the business by obtaining exactly what they want. This type of offer and deal sounds similar to how the United States has been built into the largest economy in the history of the world, capitalism. When two or more parties come together (in this case it is the business and the consumer) to work out an agreement with the intent to generate substantial value or revenue, all parties involved win from this.
People consider self-interest as a separate entity than greed, but I seem them as going hand and hand. It was Adam Smith who argued, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Self-interest is about survival, responsibility and increased quality of life. It is self-interest that motivates us to do the things we do not want to but need to in order to survive and succeed. These “choirs” can be seen when we go to work, clean our house, care for our children, seek further education even when it is not required or seek medical opinions when it is not a life-threatening issue. The natural desire and core motive of human action is simply to better one’s position in life, much like someone with a greed mindset to be better off than they were before.
One positive example of how greed can be beneficial for all is if an employer puts together an incentivized compensation plan for the employees that allows them employees to make as much money as possible as they are increasing in business without limitation to the success. When the company makes money, the sales people make money from the company’s success. This example can be seen from businesses that offer commission with no caps to the commission. This is a form of greed in the sense that the company is driving to make as much profit as possible but also paying the employees a slight increase in pay by working harder. The greed works both ways though because the employee’s greed to make more money is the exact concept the business was working towards.
Many companies have found a way to turn greed into a way to benefit a cause by providing a sense of charity. Loveyourmelon, Newman’s own, Love bottle, One Hope, Greater Good, all these companies donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity and help a greater cause. The company is still in the business to make money and to grow larger and larger, but they are also helping a cause with their success. This company has greed to become more successful like any other company but because they are doing good with their proceeds, they are more supported by the customer.
The conclusion of a new study from the University of Oxford, published in Nature Communications, found that greed is good in certain contexts. The study used mathematical models of human social groups and the researchers found that when communities are hierarchically structured (meaning that there is a potential for high inequality) the individuals at the top tend to make more of an effort in the interests of the group than the individuals at the bottom. This included competing with outside groups and facing potential danger in the process. The authors of this study detected that behavior across nearly all cultures, and cite corresponding studies of chimps, blue monkeys and ring-tail lemurs, showed that higher ranking individuals tend to venture closer to the dangerous border of the group’s territory during patrols. High ranking females ended up joining the males in combat with other groups. In return, the lower ranking members are allowed to become what is known as free-riders, hiding behind the commotion and contribute little on their own to the society.
This study was brought over towards human behavior and the study results were supported. Throughout history of powerful people who serve the group in some way being rewarded with more power still. Famous generals become Presidents like Eisenhower, Washington, Grant, not just because of their popularity but because they’ve proven their fortitude in battle and can prove it again if dangerous outsiders come calling. We welcome the enormous wealth some inventors and industrialists accumulate because part of the time, they make our lives better too. The public is a lot less supportive when wealthy and powerful people create things that benefit only other wealthy and powerful people. The public would rather have an economy that rewards ambition than an economy that smothers ambition. In the case with free-riding, this is more complex than it seems. There’s truth to the fact that in the past, welfare could be a discouragement to work, especially when the work that was on offer was unappealing and paid little more than the free money the government was giving out. Greed is what drives people to want to be better in this world. If greed did not exist, being a free rider wouldn’t be a bad option to take considering there aren’t any major consequences or expectations from someone in this position.
There is a quote by Rabbi Benjamin Blech about greed and this quote it meant to be seen in a negative sense, but I see this quote as more of a reason why greed is good. “Greed will always leave you dissatisfied because you’ll never be able to get everything you desire. Greed never allows you to think you have enough; it always destroys you by making you strive ever harder for more.” This quote explains how you will always be pursuing no matter what is obtained, greed will cause you to always wanting more and to the extent to pushing yourself harder and harder. These characteristics sound like things we strive for, an example of these characteristics are how olympians push for perfection every day and even when they reach the podium, they want to break the records they set and be remembered for more. We tell people to have more drive if they want to be successful in life, we tell people to stay hungry and to never get comfortable because being too comfortable leaves you at a standstill. When greed is in the topic it is something to avoid but when it is about motivating others, these same characteristics are motivating features.
A common quoted saying is that money is the root of all evil which is actually a misquotation of the Bible, which states that the love of money is the root of all evil. Greek philosopher Aristotle pondered the conception of being truly happy and fulfilling life for human beings and ended up ruling ruled out money the equation. Aristotle did this because he saw that money is only a materialistic good. Money is only good for the purpose of obtaining something else. So, the root of all evil could not be money but what we can get with it. A deeper understanding of what greed really is can help us to see that it is not only a desire for materialistic objects, but the security and independence that having money can bring. Greed for money is not a bad thing, it can help us meet our basic needs as well as enjoy luxuries which make life better. These luxuries do not apply to the typical idea of luxuries like vacations, spa’s etc. Luxuries like having better medical assistance, a more advanced society, better technology, etc. In many ways’ greed is the structure in which of our lives are built on. Aristotle stated it best by saying “For what good would their prosperity do them if it did not provide them with the opportunity for good works”?
Greed is the Driving Factor. (2021, Mar 17).
Retrieved March 29, 2023 , from
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