web analytics

An Easter message: greed is not good

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, April 21st, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: broadcasting, capitalism, class war, democratic participation, Economy, election 2014, news, poverty, sustainability, workers' rights - Tags:

It’s a slow news day, and I was browsing some overseas newspapers.  I came across this article on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald: “Greed is the market’s forgotten vice” by Ross Gittins.  It’s an op ed review of a book, Beyond greed by Dr Brian Rosner, principal of Ridley Melbourne, an Anglican theological college. I’m not religious, but the concepts are pretty relevant to today’s increasingly secular society: one where the Christian legacy is still visible in our culture/s.

Greed a disease

The article outlines how greed was once considered a major sin, but now is treated as something pretty trivial, or, in the case of the Randians, a major good. Gittins pulls some facts cited in the book:

A survey of regular churchgoers in America found that whereas almost 90 per cent said greed was a sin, fewer than 20 per cent said they were ever taught that wanting a lot of money was wrong, and 80 per cent said they wished they had more money than they did.

.

It seems that, by comparison with the past, greed is regarded as a trivial sin. A retired priest has recounted that, in his long years of service, all kinds of sins and concerns were confessed to him in the confessional, but never once the sin of greed.

Rossner argues that greed has become a form of religion, within which  the “economy” has become regarded as sacred.

”Like God, the economy, it is thought, is capable of supplying people’s needs without limit. Also, like God, the economy is mysterious, unknowable and intransigent,” he says. ”It has both great power and, despite the best managerial efforts of its associated clergy, great danger. It is an inexhaustible well of good(s) and is credited with prolonging life, giving health and enriching our lives.

.

”Money, in which we put our faith, and advertising, which we adore, are among its rituals. The economy also has its

In greed we trust

In place of the celebration of greed, Rossner puts in a bid for the alternative as being “contented” – that is, contented with our lot, but not with the way life is for those less well off than ourselves.  Clearly he sees his target audience is the middle classes, or at least the better off working classes.

”To be content is to be satisfied, to enjoy a balance between one’s desires and their fulfilment. To be content is in effect to experience freedom from want,” he says. But note, it’s being content with your own lot, not those of others less fortunate than you.

.

And the other side of the contentment coin is giving. Rosner says that if Charles Dickens’ Scrooge epitomises greed, giving is epitomised by Victorian jam maker Sir William Hartley. Hartley regularly and voluntarily increased wages, practised profit-sharing and supplied low-cost, high-quality housing to some of his employees and free medical attention to all of them.

.

He was also concerned for his suppliers, and would amend contracts in their favour if a change in the price of fruit and economic circumstances conspired against their making a decent living.

These are admirable sentiments, but provide a counter to greed in the form of individual responses and Victorian era charity. A further point where I part company with the views of Rossner (as explained by Gitlin, is when he argues that greed underlies three major threats to our civilisation: terrorism, pollution and crime.

I do think that greed underlies major problems in our society, including the threats to the environment.  However, I l did a search to see what else have been said about greed and the state of 21st century western society.

According to a sketchy Wikipedia article, there is a theory that greed, fear and herd instinct are the “three main emotional motivators of stock markets and business behavior”.

Foreclose on banks not people

An article behind a pay wall at Scientific American, “Greed: How Economic Selfishness Harms Us All“, uses a Gordon Gekko quote from the 1980s movie, Wall Street.

 

Greed-Is-NOT-Good-For-The-People!

I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them!

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

This has been the dominant ethos since the neoliberal or neocon revolution of the 1980s.

I found a part of a 2004 book, not behind a pay wall, that looks like it’s worth a read. It is from the book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives, by Sam Pizzigati. This author is described as a “long-time labor movement journalist”.

This section of the book, on a PDF file, The Cost of Greed is a secular analysis of the religion of greed and its sacred “market”.  Its focus is on inequality as being THE major social threat to our society and democracy.  The section concludes by pointing to evidence that income gaps translate to voting gaps: the decline in the numbers of people voting.  To function democratically society needs public forums that enable public criticism.

And that requires the development or more democratic forms of media, on and offline.  This should be a major election platform. See the Coalition for Better Broadcasting.

 

coalition-for-better-broadcasting-logo-300x140

14 comments on “An Easter message: greed is not good”

  1. Chooky 1

    +100 Karol …great post!…

    • blue leopard 1.1

      Yes +1 to that Chooky,

      Great post Karol – really pivotal information if we wish to improve our world, our society and lives. Pretty revolting that our current economic system is based on greed worship.

      Can’t go past Mahatma Ghandi’s message ‘The world has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

      Great timing for the post too (Easter and all).

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    And that requires the development or more democratic forms of media, on and offline.

    And don’t forget a more democratic form of discussion and voting.

    Loomio

  3. Clemgeopin 3

    “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
    —Timothy 6:10

    “Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief”
    —Buddha

  4. greywarbler 4

    I followed up a story from 2008 through Google. I think this shows how you may not like what you get when you wish for money. Alan Dyer rushed the police with a knife in Brisbane and was shot in the stomach and died. He was living in Brisbane with a woman called Chantal and her daughter Crystal and boyfriend. He had been a millionaire but lost most of it six years previously and had received treatment for depression. He originally had been a furniture salesman and was involved in the early days of promoting the drug company Herbalife which he had made good money from.

    It wasn’t enough to give him a happy, stable life. A life where people go after money, and good assets, devoting themselves to having things is a greedy self-centred life. If someone is greedy for love, for attention, for owning someone really, that is not a good life either.

    And people particularly through some USA churches and then through their evangelising, spreading enrolments in other countries, are being sold a ‘prosperity’ message. It’s one that goes right against the edict that a rich man will find it harder to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Of course that is a saying suitable for the Middle East, so just replace the camel with a picture of a cow.

    The churches preach that if you find favour with God you will be blessed with good things, particularly money. They hold classes in money management, not unwise, but it shifts the emphasis from trying to live well with a morality that brings self respect and respect for others and following the rules set by Jesus and his later church. It really is similar to the selling of Amway products, and other public mass marketing products. Their method is that you bring someone into the organisation, they get signed up and start paying for product to onsell, you get a finder’s fee, and continue to look for others and at the same time sell the product and everyone should benefit. But you never know if people are really friendly for yourself, or because they are hustling you to get returns for adding someone to the commercial fold. These churches are selling a product too, it may be a good product but people get enmeshed in it and its ethos.

    • Rogue Trooper 4.1

      not one of the four canon gospels for ‘spiritual’ success.
      I visited such a church recently, where in, the congregation were persuasively asked four times across two services for money; eftpos machine at the rear of the hall, IOU’s asked for.

      • Mike S 4.1.1

        A quote I read or heard recently comes to mind. Something along the lines of that the bible says if you even just think about committing adultery it is the same as actually doing it and is a sin. So if you just think about putting money in the collection plate……..

  5. Red Rosa 5

    Great post, Karol.

    And as somebody famous once said, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

    A quote noticeably absent from the usual christian rantings…;)

  6. Ad 6

    Which New Zealand politician said “Socialism was Christianity in action”?

    Current Pope would be fine with that. Canonisation of martyred Archbishop Romero will be next. Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith now run by an avowed Liberation Theology sympathiser … And Ratzinger gets to see his life’s work undone before his eyes.

    BTW Jesus came from the equivalent of Kawerau. He would have made Occupy work.

  7. Mike S 8

    Nice post Karol.

    Nothing will change while we live under an economic and monetary system that rewards activities which are detrimental to society and humankind such as greed, war, speculation, etc, with massive profits. If the system facilitates greed then greed will thrive.

    Beneficial activities such as social responsibility, sustainability, saving lives, peace, etc, don’t return much profit. It’s as though the system is completely backwards and is designed that way. Regardless, it is defective and is only going to get worse until it collapses big time, which it definitely will do.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    5 hours ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    5 hours ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    18 hours ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    24 hours ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    24 hours ago
  • OIO must explain Argentine pollution prosecutions
    The Overseas Investment Office (OIO)has questions to answer about how it safeguarded our sensitive land by allowing foreign investors with criminal prosecutions to purchase Onetai Station in Taranaki, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.   “Rafael and Federico Grozovsky… ...
    1 day ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 day ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 day ago
  • Murray McCully needs to come clean over Tokelau ferry debacle
    Foreign Minister Murray McCully needs to come clean on why a New Zealand aid-funded vessel intended to service the Tokelau Islands is delayed, over budget and failed its sea trials, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “The new ship… ...
    1 day ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    1 day ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    1 day ago
  • Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has visited New Zealand troops at Camp Taji, Iraq. Mr Little also met with Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al-Obedih and senior military officials from the Coalition forces in Iraq. He now heads to Jordan to see… ...
    2 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    2 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    2 days ago
  • Minister must come clean on implications of landmark settlement
    Gerry Brownlee has urgent and serious questions to answer in the wake of today’s landmark EQC settlement, which potentially has major implications for thousands of Cantabrians, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. ...
    2 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    2 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    2 days ago
  • Dam not out of doldrums yet
    Ruataniwha Dam promoters Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) still has hurdles to clear and a lot of work to do before ratepayers and taxpayers will have confidence in the scheme, says Labour’s MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri.“We need sustainable… ...
    2 days ago
  • New study shows Smith’s insulation fails Kiwi kids
    A new Otago University study shows Nick Smith’s inadequate insulation standards will see hundreds of children unnecessarily hospitalised for housing-related illnesses every year, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. ...
    3 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    3 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    3 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    3 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    3 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    3 days ago
  • John Key’s land tax could push up rents
    A land tax proposed by John Key as the answer to the housing crisis could push up rents and risks having no effect on skyrocketing prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Government needs to explain why the thousands… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government should ban foreign speculators
    The Prime Minister’s musings about a land tax on non-resident buyers is just more tinkering, and the Government should just ban foreign speculators as the Australian Government has done, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is classic John Key.… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government must protect Pharmac as promised
    John Key must tell New Zealanders that he will not bow to pressure from wealthy drug companies or their US negotiators and put Kiwi lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.   “News reports today have the drug… ...
    4 days ago
  • Action not words, needed on housing speculation
    John Key should be taking action to crack down on speculation in our overheated housing market, instead of random musings on land tax, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said.  "John Key suggested today on TVNZ's Q and A programme that… ...
    6 days ago
  • Tertiary education cost rising 7x faster than inflation
    New figures show the cost of tertiary education is rising seven times faster than inflation, putting post-school education out of the reach of many, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.  “Figures release this week show how much more students or their… ...
    6 days ago
  • Buying Lotto is not an arts funding strategy
    The Government must rethink the way the arts are funded after falling Lotto sales has left the sector with declining resources and increasingly vulnerable, Labour’s Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.  “Our arts sector is in a sorry… ...
    6 days ago
  • Parents hit in pocket by Government under-funding
    Parents and families are left forking out more and more for their kids’ education as a direct result of Government under-funding, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “The latest data shows that the cost to families of primary and secondary… ...
    6 days ago
  • Scientists ‘gasping for oxygen’ under National
     Steven Joyce's claims to be creating a science and innovation hub in New Zealand are a sham based on PR fluff, says Labour's Science and Innovation Spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “A damning critique of the science funding model by the New… ...
    7 days ago
  • Scientists ‘gasping for oxygen’ under National
     Steven Joyce's claims to be creating a science and innovation hub in New Zealand are a sham based on PR fluff, says Labour's Science and Innovation Spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “A damning critique of the science funding model by the New… ...
    7 days ago
  • Water for grass
    Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Water for grass
    Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Thousands of invalid votes likely after National refuses to change rules
    National’s refusal to make it easier to enrol and vote could result in tens of thousands of votes continuing to be ruled invalid at general elections, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The Justice and Electoral select committee today released… ...
    1 week ago
  • Social Development stats don’t add up
    Today’s figures released by the Ministry of Social Development show that despite a drop in the number of beneficiaries, fewer people are going into paid employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fonterra sticks with high pollution goal of increasing milk supply
    This week’s reported comments by Fonterra chair John Wilson that dairy “volumes were only going to keep increasing”  are troubling. Mr Wilson was supporting a potential renegotiation of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the FTA dairy products such… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s ‘efficiencies’ strangling health
    New Zealand’s district health boards have made ‘efficiencies’ of more than $672 million over the past five years at the expense of everything from new drugs to elective surgery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “This is a body blow for… ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s ‘efficiencies’ strangling health
    New Zealand’s district health boards have made ‘efficiencies’ of more than $672 million over the past five years at the expense of everything from new drugs to elective surgery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “This is a body blow for… ...
    1 week ago
  • Record debt to income ratio shows economy out of balance
    National’s complacent attitude to debt to income ratios rising above pre-financial crisis levels will be a concern to many New Zealanders and the Government must take action to rebalance the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.   “The borrowing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Record debt to income ratio shows economy out of balance
    National’s complacent attitude to debt to income ratios rising above pre-financial crisis levels will be a concern to many New Zealanders and the Government must take action to rebalance the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.   “The borrowing… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere