18 August 2020

Thoughts on Greed

I came across some anon griping on Twitter about "greedy rich people." As per the usual it included a gif image of a falling guillotine. Very typical these days, perennially pathetic. 

It got me thinking about a question I've asked myself and others before: "Is greed wanting more while others have less, or is greed wanting more while offering nothing in exchange?" 

I think it's the latter. There will always be someone, somewhere, with less, so it's impossible to want more without there being someone who has less. Greed is thus inescapable without perpetually sacrificing one's self to others? That can't be it. 

The latter is wanting what others have, simply because one exists. To offer them no value in exchange, to simply state, "I am here; therefore, you must satisfy me." It is to treat your own existence as an unearned obligation on everyone around you. That sounds like greed to me. 

Thus, wanting more can be creative, or destructive: if one wants more and creates value to be traded with others, more wealth comes into existence and, provided that one is permitted to enjoy the reward, further creation is incentivized; the converse is the latter example above, in which creation is "rewarded" only with unceasing, unrequited demands, so wealth creation ceases as there is no reason to create value beyond a subsistence level. 

The former leads to greater general prosperity, the latter to self-serving destruction. 

The latter is greed. 

These days, it is proclaimed as a virtue by those who would sacrifice all of us to themselves. 

"Who is John Galt?"

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