Friday, August 31, 2012

Two posts in one day!?!?!?

I know. It's unprecedented. But I've been hearing forever this argument back and forth about greed. Liberals are always against greed, yet I hear conservatives constantly saying greed is good, because it inspires progress and success. Let me clear this up for everyone.

Proveerbs 15:27 says: "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live."

This seems pretty clear. Greed is bad. But what is greed? says: "excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions."

Some of you have probably heard debates by pundits or talking heads about greed. I've heard Rush Limbaugh talk about greed actually being good, I've heard liberals cite it over and over again as the source of evil. How can we make sense of it all?

I was surfing the internet recently reading an article, and I read the comments on an article where somebody said this: "It is good when greed makes one to create, produce, improve. when greed is taking from others what is unearned - thats wrong kind of greed."

I thought to myself: "yes, that sounds good. There are two different kinds of greed, or different levels of greed, and one is bad, that makes sense." But a fundamental disagreement at the heart of the debate between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives believe that wealth can be created, whereas liberals (herein referred to as "commies") believe that there is a limited amount of wealth to go around in the world. That is why we hear so much about wealth redistribution. It might make sense at some level to redistribute wealth if there were a limited amount of it in the world, because having it means someone else doesn't have it. Unfortunately, that is not the way the world works. Wealth is a relative term, because different people place value on different things, and different people have different talents and abilities. Through trade, wealth can be created and the comfort in our standard of living raises, because people value different things. For more food for thought on this topic, I recommend rabbi Daniel Lapin's book: "Thou Shall Prosper."

Then I started thinking: "Is it greed that drives humans to create, produce and improve?"

The dictionary definition of greed said that it is "excessive or rapacious desire," which would seem to indicate that it is a desire without control.

For example, my neighbor might have a better tv than I have, and I might want it. But if I was consumed by rapacious desire (greed), I might take it for myself. But fortunately I believe I have the self control to recognize that it doesn't belong to me no matter how badly I want it, and therefore I must control my desire to take it.
But on the other hand, if I controlled my desire to take it (remember self control would be the cessation of greed) and instead used my desire for a better tv to give me the motivation to invent a better one than my neighbor's, I might then have the potential to improve society by creating better tvs and selling them. Or as is more likely the case for most people (since most people wouldn't know where to start building a tv, much less a superior one than their neighbor's) my desire  would at least give me the incentive to work harder at whatever it is I do to add value to society, so I can make more money and simply buy a tv that is identical to or superior to my neighbor's.

Didn't I just say the same thing twice? Isn't the second example just a way of saying that there is a good kind of greed? I don't think so. In the second example, my desire was controlled and chanelled to be used as motivation to give me energy. It was not a "rapacious desire," nor was it necessarily "excessive." I don't think that a non-rapacious or non excessive desire really fits the definition, do you?

As with most intellectual debates, this can easily be resolved into clear language that everyone can understand, if our society only had a better vocabulary, or at least bothered to use a dictionary to discover the proper definitions of their terms before they go on hour long rants about them.

My conservative friends, it is time to make a distinction between greed and desire. The commies are right, greed is bad. But the commies are also wrong, desire is good, when it lies within the boundaries of self control. I think that is an easier idea to understand and accept.

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