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Is greed good?

Updated on April 26, 2015
TessSchlesinger profile image

Growing up in a political family, Tessa joined her first political party at 14. Her interest in progressive politics & economics continues.

Defining greed

Greed is said to be the desire for material wealth with no interest in personal development spiritually. It is also said to be an obsessive and selfish desire for money, power, and food. It could be anything, of course. I think a better way of defining greed would be to say that it is an intense desire to have more than one needs, even when that is at the expense of others.

Causes of greed

Greed is the result of an inner emptiness, an effort to compensate for a lack of feeling of well being and satisfaction inside. But it’s more than that...

We live in a society and a world where people who are wealth are admired/worshipped and feared. People who, on the surface, may appear to be greedy, may actually simply be desperately in need of admiration. They may also enjoy the power that being feared gives. After a while, because these people have never really developed any strength of character, the admiration and fear that people have towards them becomes deeply addictive,

They are compelled to get more and more money, no matter what the cost to those around them, simply because they have become addicted to power and money. It fills something deeply empty at some level.

People become angry over global greed

Throughout the world, people are becoming more and more angry by the greed of business owners.
Throughout the world, people are becoming more and more angry by the greed of business owners. | Source

Is excessive greed a mental illness?

Oliver James wrote in his book ‘Affluenza’ that ‘the desire to be obscenely wealth is a sickness caused by advertising and spiralling wealth inequality.’

An article in Psychology Today by Dr. Leon Seltzer stated people who were addicted to making money required bigger and bigger doses until they did it to the exclusion of all else in their lives and were completely insensitive to any hurt caused by their actions.

According to the magazine ‘Scientific American,’ the wealthier one is, the more likely one is to cheat, lie, and steal. This behaviour begins when people start getting wealthy. It appears that their feelings of compassion towards others disappear the more wealth they have.

While there are different opinions on whether the excessive greed of the super rich is an indication of mental illness, it seems that the research is pretty solid that the rich are very self absorbed, very selfish, and have little consideration towards others.

Does greed contribute to the common good?

Being driven or motivated by greed means that one takes everything one can for oneself. When one is in a position of authority, this is easy. Bosses can dictate lower salaries for those who work for them. Corporations can charge as much as they can get away with. When most people are earning too little to survive and products are too expensive to buy, eventually the community becomes very poor. Poverty is not a good place to flourish, so greed does not contribute towards the common good. In fact, greed is destructive to anyone in its way. Thus, while greed might have been classified as one of the seven deadly sins because the focus was on money and not on god, secular morality classes it as unethical because it harms most people.

Science examines greed...

Capitalism encourages greed

While all economic systems have greedy people, it is capitalism that focuses on encouraging people to be greedy. Ergo, the slogan 'greed is good.' The real truth is that greed is good for those people who don't care how much others suffer so long as they can get increasing rewards.

In the video below, one of the comments states, 'It's a shock to the system when you achieve a dream and realize something is still missing. You are not satisfied.' It's good to watch the video in order to understand that people who are driven by greed are seeking to fill an empty hole inside and that no amount of money will ever fill it.

A Summary of Global and Business Greed

Those who chase money and possessions begin to see other human beings as objects – just a consumer or market place to sell to. In the medium to long term, this destroys communities and nations.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger


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    • Mark Johann profile image

      Mark Johann 3 years ago from Italy

      Nice article. You nailed your view about greed.

    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 3 years ago

      Excellent article. I appreciated your insights and observations.