The Seven Deadly Sins: Greed

FOTSthumb2A StubbornThings Symposium9/28/15
Introduction  •  If this quote found on the web is correct, no wonder Catholicism has been so friendly to socialism. Apparently in the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas said that greed: “is a sin directly against one’s neighbor, since one man cannot over-abound in external riches, without another man lacking them… it is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man contemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”

In a time when freedom, technology, democratic government, and the institutions to support a free market were nearly non-existent, the attitude was that there was a limited pie and if some had more than another, that meant that someone else had less. This definition of “greed” is out of date, backward, and highly destructive.

If one cares for “the poor” then eating the rich is not the solution, no matter if a Pope or a Doctor of the Church says otherwise. Teaching “the poor” the ethics of hard work, honestly, the value of education, perseverance, being law-abiding, and developing an all-around good character is what one does if one cares more for the poor than one does for failed theories of economics or one’s own smug sense of benevolence.

Still, Thomas’ point is well taken. When temporal things are over-emphasized, it leaves less room for eternal things, let along things whose value cannot be measured by money. So let’s see how this group of writers tackles this subject. They should be greedy for the truth.

The Editor


Seven Deadly Sins: Greed


 

PAT TARZWELL

Greed:

One definition is; excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.   I think I would add a bit. I think this desire must contain some form of covetousness to rise to the level of greed and become damaging. To amass great sums of money or land or whatever does not necessarily make you greedy. You need to overdose on the desire part for those things, and maybe to desire so strongly for them that you want to take or keep the “things” of your desire from others.  Most people look at greed as only having to do with money, so I will try to look at some other things as well.

Greed is one of these sins that I think every one of us must have participated in at some point in our lives, most likely as very small children. If you ever see a baby when he learns the word “mine” — whoever came up with the line, easier than taking candy from a baby, must have never tried to take candy from a baby. But the attitude of this is mine and you can’t have it, whether I need it or not, whether I have more than I could use in ten life times, is not the issue. If that becomes all-consuming, it is a big problem and may be greed.

Because I was raised by a father who was a true entrepreneur, as a kid we went through times of great wealth and plenty and times of near poverty. (His company would go bust for one reason or another and we had no money, but we were never poor.)  Through all of that I think I learned to be grateful for what I had when I had it, and to share with others when I had it. Maybe that is the opposite of greed. I don’t know. Maybe that is the solution for greed, gratitude; it is hard to be so driven to acquire more and more when you are thankful for what you have.

If, on the other hand, you have an excessive or rapacious desire for anything, you probably have the first two sins covered: Lust and GluttonyPride in how much you have amassed, Envy over what your competitor has, Wrath about what you did not or cannot acquire or how someone else acquired more, all fit in the world of Greed. Although I just can’t seem to make Sloth fit with this one.

I am quite sure that we are all susceptible to the power of greed due to the forces of all of the other sins we are discussing.  But the most vulnerable seem to be the utopian libers, on both sides of the spectrum.  Both of these groups are clinging to their inner child. Mine, mine, mine could be their mantra. Leftist liberals take covetousness to a level that it falls into the category of greed for absolute equality in all things including outcomes.  The damage that does to society does not matter — equity uber alles.

And rightest utopians, aka libertarians, have such a rapacious desire for freedom that they lose all reason.  Libertarians would say; freedom to do whatever I want is “mine” and you can’t take it, I will not bow to your stupid laws, I will not bow to some God that demands anything from me.  Ethics, morality — hogwash! — I reject any and all limitations on my freedoms.  And don’t they both sure have the Wrath part linked in to their greediness?

When all is said and done, the deadly part of this sin may just be in the loneliness and unhappiness that this greed will bring to you.  Just look at the libers: both are miserable.

So if you are greedy, you may not be needy, but gratitude without, there is no doubt, no true friends you will have, and that is what we should be about. (a lame attempt at poetry)

— Pat Tarzwell was born conservative, runs a successful hi-tech business, and lives a red-state life in a deep blue one. He is greedy for Ted Cruz for president.

 

DEANA CHADWELL

We hear so much leftist propaganda these days denouncing the “greed” of the wealthy capitalists, but such rhetoric ignores some basic facts about this very dangerous sin.

You see, greed swells into many other sins. Greed, all by itself, has little to do with what one already has; it has to do with discontent, with always wanting more. Because of that, both gluttony and lust are mere subcategories of greed, wanting ever more food or ever more sex –health and integrity be damned. Greed can be an insatiable desire for approbation – that all-consuming hunger for applause that destroys so many of those get a taste of fame.

The foundation of greed is the inability (or refusal) to feel satisfaction, contentment, or gratitude, to recognize the source of our blessings and to kneel in thankfulness. Greed is also about envy – wanting what others have, or, even worse, wanting them not to have it.

I recall a student once telling me that some famous person we’d been discussing was greedy because he (she?) had so much more than needed. No. Gees – most people in this country have far more than what we need – we are all more comfortable, healthy, long-lived, and well traveled than kings used to be. We have no right looking at some successful person and declaring his/her greediness. 1) We don’t know what’s in another person’s soul, and 2) if greed is merely having a lot, then all people who are comfortable are greedy.

Sometimes great wealth merely means that God can trust you with that much money; that He knows you will be wise and generous with it and you won’t ruin your life trying to hold onto it.  It can mean that you’ve perfected what talent you were born with, and that polished talent is a scarce commodity capable of earning you a very comfortable living. It can also mean that you are both highly competitive and competent and that a large income is merely the way you keep score; it’s not about the stuff, but about winning. I suspect that’s a lot of what drives Trump.

Is greed never connected to money? As the Bible tells us “The love of money is the root of all evil.” But it’s not the money that’s the problem; it’s the love of that which is not worthy, the dedication of one’s life to the accumulation of material things, which, paradoxically, are more ephemeral than the abstract, emotional things – love, integrity, generosity, fun.

If we want to avoid greed, we must first realize from Whom all our blessings flow, and daily spend time in grateful praise for those blessings, while we continue to ramp up our ability to notice them in the first place. Mostly we don’t.

And we need to start separating what we want, yearn for, or enjoy, from what we actually need. I have gone through many phases during which I desperately wanted something – there was the wood cook stove era, the living in New York City time period, the tiny writing house phase, I could go on, but the point is that I have happily survived them all without attaining any of those desires. Hmmm. That’s a useful thing to know.

Greed is also an inability to share what one has – the Ebenezer Scrooge Effect. Instead of wanting more, one merely grasps on tight to whatever one already has. But this is also, at the root of it, a lack of understanding that a generous God gave it to you in the first place.

In conclusion, there is nothing relaxed, or happy, or satisfying about greed. There is nothing hopeful or exciting or joyous about hoarding or grasping for wealth. And since Scripture constantly reminds us to be joyful, greed seems counterproductive.

— Deana Chadwell blogs greedily and eloquently at ASingleWindow.com.

 

TIMOTHY LANE

The practical consequences of greed are different from those of lust and gluttony. Those can be directly harmful due to such consequences as venereal disease and obesity. Greed has no such practical effects; accumulating more wealth and more possessions causes no personal harm. It can lead to some degree of emotional distress at the possibility of loss, as Scrooge McDuck was known to demonstrate on numerous occasions (a problem Isaac Asimov made use of for his first Black Widowers story). Those who are especially greedy are probably more likely to suffer this sort of stress.

There are other possible consequences as well with greed. The desire to gain more need not be anti-social; what can seek to maximize wealth by legitimate means. But it’s also true that those who are (to use a term I encountered in a Dick Franics mystery) “money-holic” are all too likely to engage in illegitimate means to acquire wealth. During the Gilded Age, there were those who said that the rich of that era sought to gain money “honestly if possible, dishonestly if necessary” (and some cynics reversed that to “dishonestly if possible, honestly if necessary”). It’s that dishonest part that could lead to legal complications (which can’t always be solved by bribing the relevant authorities, though that often works). Of course, many of those who try to acquire money illegally (such as bank robbers) probably are motivated as much by the desire for excitement as by the desire for gain — a point strongly made in the Twilight Zone episode “A Nice Place to Visit” and also by many critics of gambling. But whatever the motivation, many people who cut corners to enrich themselves further have ended up in jail over the years.

Greed can also be negative in personal terms. Someone who obsessively seeks to acquire wealth will probably have few friends. Partly this results from the tendency to look at everyone and everything in terms of how they can benefit you financially, and partly because this also will tend to affect the personality.

So remember why St. Paul referred to “the lust for money” as the root of evil. Of course, he had no idea that for many power is desired for its own right, not just for the money and perks that go along with it. But he did know that it isn’t so much the desire for more, but what it leads one to do (or not do, as in failing to give to charity), that really matters.

— Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine. His greed is mainly regarding the collecting of books.

 

KUNG FU ZU

At what point does one step over the line between “enlightened self-interest” and greed? I suppose the answer depends on the person and the cultural setting.

The above notwithstanding, I would like to play devil’s advocate for the proposition that greed is not a completely irrational or evil emotion.

Throughout history humanity’s overriding concerns were food and disease. Both were interwoven. Poor diet increased the chance of disease. And although they had something of an advantage over the peasants, even the wealthy were plagued by early death.

In those days, wealth depended on, by and large, agricultural production and trade. Both were dependant on human labor. As there were limits on the amount any single person could produce, even in good times, it was often the case that there was very little, or no, surplus to go around.

Given this historical context, it could be argued that “greed,” i.e. the desire for something more than one has, was a major impetus in the human endeavor to break out of this economic prison. Seen thusly, it was in large part “greed” which impelled McCormick and his spiritual antecedents to develop the mechanical reaper to improve agricultural output. It was greed that led Watt to improve the steam engine so as to improve efficiency in a number of areas such as mining and textile production which in turn led to new possibilities in a multitude of areas that bettered the material state of mankind. It was “greed” which prodded Jenner to experiment and develop a vaccine for smallpox.

In our times, a little greed combined with a little sloth has given further momentum to progress in all areas of life, from medicine to computing. The desire to do more with less has improved our lives beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

So l think it only appropriate that we all take a moment to consider and give quiet thanks for “greed,” as without a small degree of it, it is not very likely that humanity would have gotten much further than following herds of Wildebeests up and down the African savanna.

Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. Greedy for attention (he secretly wants to be the next Jonah Goldberg), he suggested this symposium.

 

ANNIEL

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS AS SET FORTH IN PROVERBS 6:16-19
#2: A Lying Tongue, the same in the KJV, the TANAKH, and the Peshitta

The Lord has told all men not to lie, and yet we do, in ways both small and large. But this – this Lying Tongue has, at its very heart, the sowing of discord between brothers. That would take larger than usual lies and there must be true believers in the targeted groups so that the lies can endure and infect others.

Look around at the Lying Tongues of today. The tongues that turn everything into lies. The tongues of those who don’t even care that everyone knows they lie, the leaders who approve of the lies as long as they create chaos and discord. Not to speak is also to condone the lies, to become partners in the deceit.

The Pope went to New York and sweetly blessed a child of illegal immigrants. Then we learn the whole scenario had been carefully scripted, staged and rehearsed for a year before the event took place. Who are we to trust and when? Who are the people who so carefully choreograph these public spectacles and why? Even seeming goodness becomes an act without meaning when based on a lie.

You know who possess the Lying Tongues, they are the same people who have a haughty look. Watch carefully, they also have dead looking eyes because the lights have gone out in their souls. Look at Marilyn Mosby, the DA, in Baltimore. She and the State Department Bobsey Twins, Marie Harf and Jen Psaki could be triplets, all with flannel hair and eyes that see only their own desires and lies. Partners in deceit and perfect foils for a city and nation beset by evil, they spew filth on all they touch.

The Rules of the Deadly Sins:
The Rule of the First Deadly Sin: By their haughty look ye shall know them.
The Rule of the Second Deadly Sin: The Lying Tongues cause distrust and
blanket the whole land in Deceit.

— Anniel is a frequent contributor to StubbornThings and that’s the truth.

 

BRAD NELSON

Greed has been re-defined by the Marxists and nicey-nice “Progressives” amongst us. Now you’re “greedy” if you simply want to hold onto more of what you earn and give less in taxes to a wasteful, bloated, and corrupt government. The prostitution of government is now almost complete with this redefinition, and a neutered, bamboozled, and distracted populace doesn’t seem to care. Apparently no price is too high to pay for Utopia — or at least its false promises.

Therefore, how we define “greed” is important in terms of talking about it. Gordon Gecko (played by Michael Douglas) from the film, Wall Street, said:

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, greed is good. Greed works, greed is right. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms, greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind — and greed, mark my words — will save not only Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA…Thank you.

Your average Progressive, let alone Christian or Catholic, is likely shocked by those words. Free enterprise — having long been besmirched, while socialism and government have been deified — is considered something that, at best, must be tolerated. The “enlightened” mindset distrusts business (for it is driven by the evil “profit motive”) and trusts government because it has supposedly no self-interested motive and (at least when in the hands of the self-anointed “Progressives”) is motivated by “social justice.”

So basically you have this ninnified moral inversion. Where once it was hard work and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps that was honored — to actually produce something with your life — now everyone does a flop and tells us how they are a “victim” while we all must admire their “courage” while they sit home and collect welfare. And all victims need oppressors, and the Cultural Marxist/Progressive paradigm has provided one: the free market (derided by Marx as “capitalism”).

So although the libtard makers of the film, Wall Street, ultimately meant to use Gordon Gecko as a foil, to be the very personification of the inherent flaws of free markets, his words are far more constructive and good than that of the conniving socialists who would topple free markets and thus freedom itself.

Without free markets — that is, without the ability to profit from one’s efforts and to make one’s own choices — there is damn little freedom. And those ninnies who have been ninnified with the message of “social justice” as devilishly marketed by the socialists and big government types are too stupid, too guilt-laden, or just too fat-and-happy to engage in the ideas that have vital consequences for us all.

So to talk about “greed,” we have to unpack it from the assault being made on our freedoms by the big government scoundrels and their minions.

Still, in my book, “greed” is not the issue. Gordon Gecko is completely right. Re-read what he said, if need be. The problem comes when accumulation is the only or overarching goal. Charity (real charity, not government welfare) is another aspect that helps to create good and free societies, for unless we step in and give effective (not blubbering libtard, but the kind of help that helps, not hurts) charity, overzealous government types will likely try to step in and market their runaway “do-gooderism” and wreck both the morals of society and its finances, as is happening now. And these internal vandals have the audacity to anoint themselves as “compassionate.” Yeah…with your time, effort, and money.

So a balanced life will have a greed for living, but also balance it and temper it with charity, humility, and a pursuit of the things in life that money cannot buy. And a sane person will be highly suspicious of the nitwits, nincompoops, and ne’er-do-wells who try to market government control over your life by demonizing effort — by besmirching the reward for services rendered in the free market. It is government that is greedy for your money even while they tell us how supposedly greedy we are for simply wanting to keep more of what we earn. And although they will use excesses (whether on Wall Street or elsewhere) to demonize freedom, they are after you, not just the “fat cats.”

But most of this essay will go over the heads of the ninnies, and I understand that. They are the ruin of this country. Their excessive greed for thinking themselves the Specially Anointed and Compassionate People is a large part of the problem.

— Brad Nelson is editor and publisher of StubbornThings.org. He is a sinner but assures you that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman…not a single time.”

See Also:
The Seven Deadly Sins: Lust
The Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony • (1132 views)

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30 Responses to The Seven Deadly Sins: Greed

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The “enlightened” mindset distrusts business (for it is driven by the evil “profit motive”) and trusts government because it has supposedly no self-interested motive and (at least when in the hands of the self-anointed “Progressives”) is motivated by “social justice.”

    These utopian tyrants are the bane of mankind. They cannot be reasoned with as they have a fundamental misunderstanding of and dislike of people. They are quite happy to people in order to make them better.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Annie’s sin has been added. Thank you, Annie.

    Are the rest of you sinless? Are you telling me that so few of you know greed? I find that a little hard to believe. I’ll be keeping my eyes on my inbox.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Greed can also be negative in personal terms. Someone who obsessively seeks to acquire wealth will probably have few friends. Partly this results from the tendency to look at everyone and everything in terms of how they can benefit you financially, and partly because this also will tend to affect the personality.

    I find that modern “greed” is a substitute for the term “jealousy.” If someone has more than you do, it’s not because you’re a lazy ass mooching off of others on welfare. It’s because “the rich” are greedy, they don’t play by the rules, that they get special breaks from government, etc. And although some aspects of this could be true, that has nothing at all to do with what drives the jealousy. This “greed” that so many complain about is more likely to be the engine of economics wherein “a rising tide raises all ships” rather than some rich guy stealing money out of your pocket. That’s what the government specializes in.

    Yes, I think we’d all agree that somewhere there is someone who is so obsessed with wealth that he has no friends. But I think this is more a stereotype than a reality. The rich tend to have lots of friends, if only because to become rich, one must generally know a lot of people and play well with most of them. Lazy poor people with bad hygiene likely don’t have a lot of friends.

    But I do think you’ve captured the essence of the inherent moral problem with greed: If the other becomes no more than an object. This is how the Democrats treat blacks, for example, and this hasn’t been particularly good for blacks. That’s how Johnny Boehner and the GOP Establishment has treated conservatives as well.

    Reducing mankind, and one’s own character, to no more than a transaction is dehumanizing. And I don’t expect any law to step in and fix this. And it’s a shame that the moral leaders (such as the current anti-Pope) don’t use the pulpit they have to give a nuanced view of this rather than this lame Leftist anti-capitalist one. We don’t need business to become more socialist. We need people (in all walks of life) to become more human.

    However, we’re stuck with the reduction of mankind, at least at the present, to a mere economic object — an economic object who tries to fool himself that he is something more by taking on various fashionable “social” causes. But these “causes” just make him seem more shallow and stupid, although the shallow and stupid do seem to be able to mask this fact from themselves, so I guess it works. And so they complain about the “greed” of “the rich,” and this absolves them from fixing their own character flaws.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Most rich people undoubtedly do have lots of friends, though many of them probably are mainly hoping for the benefits of befriending the rich. But not all rich people are obsessively greedy; in fact, I suspect few are. My point is that greed, taken too far, can lead to such results.

      Incidentally, your comment about their toleration of free enterprise reminds me of Benito Mussolini’s attitude in Fascist Italy. He concluded that they needed free enterprise until the economy was sufficiently developed, hence the corporatism of Fascism. But after that — well, he was a former Socialist, after all. And probably still was one at heart.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        If one is on the Left, you’re either evil, stupid, or foolish. There is no other choice.

        Rush was talking about the typical conception being spread by the Left, for example. It’s the idea that if you’re successful you’ve just gotten “lucky.” You’ve won “life’s lottery.” Never does the ignorant and villainous Left stop to consider that 99.99% of the rich people got that way by working hard, building something, and providing a product or service that was of benefit to mankind. Instead, they are demonized.

        And as Mr. Kung would no doubt point out, the halls of business is no more virtuous than the halls of anywhere else. But the upside to this is that, except where business and government collude, we’re free to not buy their products. There is a self-correcting factor in the free market that is lost when government favors certain segments of business or business buys government favors. But the market itself works when it’s allowed to work. It’s been the greatest anti-poverty instrument in the history of mankind.

        Ignorance follows stupidity when it comes to the Left. When business and government get together and ruin things, then it’s business that is blamed by the Left with the solution always being more government…which was the problem in the first place. And not only business but commerce and the free market are demonized. Even eventually freedom itself is demonized as our idiot president does when he deems it “everyone out for themselves.”

        Thomas Sowell has noted time and again, for instance, that the housing boom and bust was due to government mandates for “affordable housing” as well as their draconian environmental restrictions that increase housing costs.

        But as Ayn Rand surely noted, who is out there defending the free market? Almost no one, so it dies a little more every day. And our country is turning into a bunch of whiners, leeches, beggars, and bandits. We’re becoming a corrupt and demeaned people. We take the greatest thing we have and dismiss it with the slander of “greed.” Give me a greedy man any day over the grievance man.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          And as Mr. Kung would no doubt point out, the halls of business is no more virtuous than the halls of anywhere else. But the upside to this is that, except where business and government collude, we’re free to not buy their products

          Exactly. When having such discussions, I frequently point out that ExxonMobile cannot force me to do anything. Only government can “legally” sanction of force, right or wrong.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Keith Laumer dealt with this mindset in his superb story “The Plague”. A homesteading farmer has his land taken over by some communal religious group with a lot of political influence — and they consider the farm’s produce merely the bounty of nature, without regard for the hard work needed.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks for your addition, Mr. Kung. It has been added to the mix.

    In our times, a little greed combined with a little sloth has given further momentum to progress in all areas of life, from medicine to computing. The desire to do more with less has improved our lives beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

    Very well said, Mr. Kung. As my essay more or less notes, “greed” is a word that isn’t as relevant as it once used to be when there was, for all practical purposes, a fixed pie. More for one often did mean less for others in days gone by (or in more primitive areas of the world today, such as Communist Cuba which the Pope and Obama seem to think is the cat’s meow).

    Now that archaic system (despite Democrat efforts to renew the old plantation) is mostly dead. Although nitwits on the Left have been filled with angst and grievance and been made into zealots for “the poor” with the Rx to all this being to “eat the rich,” most people (so far) are not that stupid or bamboozled. There is still the very real idea that through hard work, innovation, and technology, the moon is the limit…and perhaps not even the moon. But the bottom line is, it is no longer a fixed pie. We can grow it.

    How ironic then that those nitwits who go around calling themselves “Progressives” have a truly regressive attitude and economics. I liked your essay, Mr. Kung, not least because it reflected by own superb analysis. 😀

    Who do you want running the world, Gordon Gecko or Bernie Sanders? It’s not even close.

    So l think it only appropriate that we all take a moment to consider and give quiet thanks for “greed,” as without a small degree of it, it is not very likely that humanity would have gotten much further than following herds of Wildebeests up and down the African savanna.

    That is a shot across the bow of the libtards and other fools who still have a romantic notion of the “noble savage,” of man living in health and harmony before nasty “competition” and capitalism ruined it all and made Mother Gaia cry. These people are idiots and are ruining our culture. And yet they now have vast power over us as they try to implement their truly backward ideology. God help us. Or maybe Trump will! 😀

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I liked your essay, Mr. Kung, not least because it reflected by own superb analysis.

      You know the saying, “Great minds think alike” to which someone will always reply, “Fools seldom differ.”

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Deana has added her essay. I like this bit:

    You see, greed swells into many other sins. Greed, all by itself, has little to do with what one already has; it has to do with discontent, with always wanting more. Because of that, both gluttony and lust are mere subcategories of greed, wanting ever more food or ever more sex –health and integrity be damned. Greed can be an insatiable desire for approbation – that all-consuming hunger for applause that destroys so many of those get a taste of fame.

    And…

    I recall a student once telling me that some famous person we’d been discussing was greedy because he (she?) had so much more than needed. No. Gees – most people in this country have far more than what we need – we are all more comfortable, healthy, long-lived, and well traveled than kings used to be. We have no right looking at some successful person and declaring his/her greediness. 1) We don’t know what’s in another person’s soul, and 2) if greed is merely having a lot, then all people who are comfortable are greedy.

    I think most of us suffer from the infection of dissatisfaction. To some extent, to stop refusing to go gently into that goodnight is to stop existing. Man seems made to struggle. And yet I see so many people who live (as Deana noted) better than kings of recent centuries and they are dissatisfied and angst-filled. The basics are all met: food, clothing, and shelter…plus a little spending money. And yet we’re a society riddled with an inferiority complex. We think we have such tragic, hard lives when, in fact, we have puff-ball lives compared to how most humans have lived throughout most of history.

    Of course, I think as Mr. Kung so eloquently stated in so many words, we’d still be living in our own dirt-floor filth if we didn’t have a certain built-in dissatisfaction with the way things are. If we had no drive to improve ourselves, where would we be? If we had no “greed” for betterment, would we have all the cool stuff and life-saving technology that we do?

    And yet you see those who are well off and — much like a bulimic woman who forever thinks she is fat, no matter how bone-bulging gaunt — still thinks they are insecure and don’t have enough. I think the real lesson of greed is being able to consciously look at both sides: our need to improve ourselves, balanced with a settled peace and gratitude for what we have.

    Living in this highly materialistic culture that has produced vast amounts of wealth, we become spoiled, inured to all that we have. We become like the princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Princess and the Pea.” And despite sleeping on a half dozen down-filled mattresses, we still stress and fuss about the pea we feel underneath the bottom mattress. We become ninnies.

    It’s my belief that our culture is ready-made to make us crazy. Productivity isn’t bad. Wanting more isn’t bad. Working hard isn’t bad. Accumulating wealth isn’t bad. None of these are bad simply because some envious person say that you are driven by “greed”. Who knows what drives people? But we do know that most of us are driven. And in this highly materialistic culture, it develops a feedback loop where the more you have, the less you seem to have.

    How to get out of that loop? Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps that is what is so intriguing about the story of St. Francis. Is it really possible to be happy and to be poor? That goes against all the devilish hand-wringing we hear from the Left who say that poverty is the cause of all the ills of society (or at least most of them). But what if they’re wrong? (Of course they’re wrong. But this is a hypothetical.)

    Isn’t the true edifying meaning of “greed” about rethinking your own life and priorities? We can quickly become such a shallow and thoughtless people without considering various aspects of a subject. We too easily take on bumper-sticker thinking where slogans replace wisdom. And I dare say, you have to wonder how many people are mired in the “keeping up with the Joneses” track without realizing it. Or, whatever their humble abilities, are forever filled with grievance and pain because others have more than they do.

    Someone will always have more than you do. There will always be smug competition between people to “die with the most toys.” And toys are nice. Having things is nice. Being able to fit into the culture where you have a certain amount of the essentials is nice. But even these “essentials” are getting out of control. Parents now obsess over making sure little Johnny has an iPhone like everyone else. Perhaps a good parent would insist that little Johnny get a paper route if he wants a hi-tech gadget.

    And this intersects another aspect of “greed.” Much of “greed,” as Deana noted, is just other sins in disguise. And I would think “envy” is at the heart of most accusations of “greed.” And this shortcut bypasses the most important virtue: If you wan’t something then earn it your damn self instead of obsessing over what everyone else has. Or make peace with what you already have. But do something. Do not join the poisonous grievance-mongers of the Left whose idiocy is tearing themselves and our society apart.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      There have been a number of conservative fairy-tale type stories that deal with the importance of the profit motive. One involves a small, primitive farming community that relies for water on a spring at the top of a small hill. One clever farmer works out an aqueduct to bring water down, and offers to sell it to the other farmers (since it saves them the labor of getting it). If they agree, this encourages further progress; if they don’t, they will never progress further. Another is a version of the Little Red Hen, in which no one helps the hen in any way — but when it comes time to eat it, they all want their share, denounce her as a capitalist exploiter, and get the government to split it up among them all. The hen insists that she’s content wtih the result — but the rest all wonder why she never made any more bread.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The reminds me of a truism: Socialism is the system that unleashes people’s inner moocher. And we all have them. On the other hand, freedom/self-responsibility inside a lawful and good community unleashes our creative energy and puts it to productive use.

        When the GOP let the Left win the argument that taxation, welfare, and bigger government equals “caring,” they lost relevance as anything but a status quo party (if that).

        I think with little Johnny Boehner’s resignation as Speaker, it’s like opening up a chicken and reading the liver: The GOP is dying, and it couldn’t happen too soon for me. We need an opposition party, one who is greedy for freedom instead of moocherism.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          This is another example of the failure of the GOP to explain their political philosophy. Of course, it’s hard to do that when you don’t have one. But somewhere along the line, someone has to point out the difference between private charity and government handouts.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Can you imagine the crackpots on the Left writing essays on this particular sin? It’s amazing that no one here has said “oil companies” or “big pharmaceutical.” Well…I’m not amazed because y’all are not crackpots. But it is refreshing to talk about a subject without the canards, slogans, and stereotypes of liberals.

    Nor has anyone here defined “greed” in terms of vast segments of society. We know there are greedy businessmen, greedy doctors, greedy store clerks, and greedy poor people. Greed is an equal opportunity sin (particularly prominent among politicians, I might add). Only fools and liberals have learned to use stereotypes to the extent that they hardly need to say “greedy oil companies.” The “greedy” is implied.

    And these fools, for the most part, are now running large sections of the country, blaming Scapegoat A for being “greedy,” another for being “racist,” and still another for being “sexist” with little thought to individuals or individual situations. It’s as if they cleared out the insane asylums and let them run things.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Pat, thanks for your essay (just added at the top). It was most excellent and creative. I love this part:

    Greed is one of these sins that I think every one of us must have participated in at some point in our lives, most likely as very small children.  If you ever see a baby when he learns the word “mine” — whoever came up with the line, easier than taking candy from a baby, must have never tried to take candy from a baby.

    I note that you, too, did not equate greed with success…that is, with having a lot. The libers on the Left would say (unless you’re a rich liber, I guess) that you couldn’t possibly get rich without greed, and especially without exploiting “the poor.”

    I thank you for your essay. It’s just what I was looking for, a fun, light, creative, and meaningful approach to the subject. And I hope there are one or two shy people out there who will get off their asses and submit something. I’m still waiting to make Johnny Boehner cry. I’m still looking for that essay that tells of personal experiences (or other people one has known) that show the devastating effects of the kind of real greed we are talking about.

    I haven’t known anyone that I can think of who I would call greedy. We all have our moments. Maybe it’s just not all that common in a large form outside of a Dickens novel. I don’t know. Lust? Oh, god yes. That’s all over the place. But greed? Well, in the sense of how it infuses envy whereby “the poor” (and others) think they have a license to eat the rich, then we do see that all over these days.

    But “the rich,” if they tend to screw anyone, is other rich people as they play their game. And then with wealth accumulated, it is typical for many of them to turn philanthropist — or more likely these days to turn into libtard-anthropists. Is there anything in this world more stupid than the inventor of the biggest time-wasting technology ever invented (Facebook) sitting in on a U.N. meeting? I saw Zuckerberg doing that the other day. What a douche-bag. Do you suppose he’s greedy for a little attention and sense of self-importance?

    • Pst4usa says:

      Thank You Brad, I enjoyed this one although I delayed do it. There was one more thing I thought of after the fact, greed has nothing to do with amount of whatever, it has to do with more, more, more. Which means that the poor can be and are in many cases very greedy. No matter what they get from daddy Democrat, they want more, they did nothing to earn it, but they always want more. Not to say that a greedy rich person has to get rich without earning it to be called greedy. Earning what you have is a separate issue from never being satisfied with, or grateful for, what you have or the burning passion for more.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        …greed has nothing to do with amount of whatever, it has to do with more, more, more.

        I agree with “greed” in terms of “more more more” without any appreciation or gratitude for what you have. One could say it’s when accumulation becomes an addiction. And although the popular conception of “greed” comes from a Dickens novel, don’t we see this “greed” for self-fulfillment (or whatever the hell it is) with people’s heads buried in their cell phones at home, at work, on the sidewalk, in the crosswalk, in the car, driving the car, stopped in the car, and likely during sex as well?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          And although the popular conception of “greed” comes from a Dickens novel, don’t we see this “greed” for self-fulfillment (or whatever the hell it is) with people’s heads buried in their cell phones at home, at work, on the sidewalk, in the crosswalk, in the car, driving the car, stopped in the car, and likely during sex as well?

          I am presently reading “Martin Chuzzlewit” which contains its share of such Dickensian caricatures. One wonders how much he believed in his stereotypes.

          Like many intellectuals and aristocrats, Dickens appears to have had nothing against money, simply against earning it as a businessman.

          Snobbery is always present in humanity.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Like many intellectuals and aristocrats, Dickens appears to have had nothing against money, simply against earning it as a businessman.

            Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the greatest literary characters of all time. He’s the stereotype of greed. And surely there are people like that. But forgotten (which plays into the Leftist conception) is that this kind of greed in no way is restricted to “the rich.” In fact, those in business know best the rule of reciprocity: you have to give in order to get. You have to make a lot of deals with various people to their mutual benefit.

            My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that the greediest people among us are not in business. They’re the various “social justice” moochers a race grievance-mongers whose appetites for other people’s money and power can never be sated.

            Jeepers creepers (also a great Sinatra song, by the way), give me an Ebenezer over these guys any day. At least Ebenezer was producing something and providing employment. And that he had a little bit of a sour attitude, well, there is no law against that nor was he (from the story) actively brutal to anyone. He just believed that work was the best “charity” off all (and I agree).

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I suspect Dickens’s hostility was to finance and related fields, not “business” per se. He certainly could accept producers and sellers much better than he could financiers.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I think Dickens’ hostility was mostly aimed at financiers and traders. Of course, in those days traders were very often financiers as well.

              In “The Old Curiosity Shop” he hinted at a dislike of the iron and steel works.

              But Dickens showed his clearest thinking in the dislike of lawyers displayed throughout his works, but most clearly expressed in “Bleak House”.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Rich and powerful people make for nice villains, if only to comfort us in the idea that we’re not of humble means because of any flaw in us. It’s just that we are not wicked like the rich and powerful. This is the stuff of great nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

                Amazingly, the politics of the Left is based on this simplistic vision…a vision ready-made for minds that don’t care to grapple with any truth that won’t fit into the 140 character limit of a Tweet.

                It would be a fun lesson to try to take the Declaration of Independence, for example, and reduce it to a 140 character Tweet. One would try to do the same thing with the Bill of Rights. I might try to do that if I have time.

                Well, lawyers are the true parasitic class of society, perhaps second only to politicians. They make for great villains, although in modern times they are often seen as the upholders of everything good and noble. Trial lawyers, and such, are part of the Demonic constituency of the Left. They would be the Eighth Deadly Sin.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                As Dick the Butcher (one of Jack Cade’s rebels) says in Henry the Sixth Part Two, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    I definitely agree with Pat’s linkage of covetousness (envy) with greed in terms of the harm done. His point about “taking candy from a baby” reminds me of an article I read in (probably) Reader’s Digest half a century ago which noted how many such clichés were rather inappropriate for most people. This was one of them, with the woman pointing out just how hard-hearted you’d have to be to put up with the baby’s reaction. But then, who do we think of as using that particular phrase? Professional criminals. Big surprise.

    • Pst4usa says:

      Thanks for reading my scribbles Timothy, now I will get to read the rest of the post, I try not to be influenced by others before writing my own, in these things.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Me too, Pat. I write mine before reading anyone else’s. I figured I wouldn’t be the only one quoting Gordon Gecko. But I was wrong!

  9. Pst4usa says:

    Excellent post one and all. I was thinking about a comedian from the slums of India or someplace like that, (sorry I do not remember his name), and part of his bit was about wanting to come to America because the poor here are fat. How can they be poor if they have too much to eat. Well that question really needs no answer or explanation, but the point about cell phones Brad is making, makes me have to point out, the poor in this country have those as well. Sometimes called 0bama phones? Are the majority of the American “poor” the real greedy ones?

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