web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

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.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    3 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    3 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    3 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    3 days ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    3 days ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    3 days ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    4 days ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    4 days ago
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    4 days ago
  • Foreign buyers for iconic island must add value
    Labour will look very closely at any Overseas Investment Office application to purchase Pakatoa Island if it is not bought by a Kiwi, says Labour’s Land information Spokesperson Stuart Nash. “Pakatoa is an iconic island in the middle of Hauraki… ...
    4 days ago
  • Way opening for April Sun in Cuba
    The United States of America’s President’s historic announcement yesterday to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba should be applauded by the New Zealand Government. The announcement marks a turning point in more than five decades of hostility between the two countries… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    4 days ago
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Energy users need answers on Vector share plans
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges needs to stop ducking for cover about whether or not the Government will support plans to nationalise and then privatise $2.1 billion of shares in the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust, Labour's Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says. “It… ...
    5 days ago
  • Turning up the heat on working conditions
    A “Jobs That Count” campaign has the full support of Labour, the party’s Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. Organised by the Meat Workers Union, the campaign aims to put the spotlight on job insecurity in the meat processing industry. ...
    5 days ago
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    5 days ago
  • Failure to diversify puts prosperity at risk
    Beyond the news that a long-promised surplus is unlikely, further embarrassment is hidden in the fine print of the half year economic and fiscal update, Labour says. "National’s failure to rebalance the economy is further exposed in projections from its… ...
    5 days ago
  • Ombudsman probe targets Ministerial integrity
    John Key is on notice that the entrenched cynical and manipulative abuse of official information requests by his Government will no longer be tolerated, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says. “The announcement by the Ombudsman of a wide-ranging review… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English’s face is redder than his books
    The Government owes New Zealanders an apology for failing to deliver the surplus it spent four years and two election campaigns promising, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Bill English’s face is redder than the Crown accounts. This is the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    6 days ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    6 days ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    6 days ago
  • Minister closes down dissent on climate change
    Minister closes down dissent on climate change In a threatening letter to Maori leaders, Minister for Climate Change Tim Groser says he will be requiring future international delegations to toe the party line, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says.… ...
    6 days ago
  • Heartfelt sympathy for Sydneysiders
    The Labour Party has offered its heartfelt sympathy to the people of Sydney after the hostage situation in the city, says Labour’s Acting leader Grant Robertson.  “Our thoughts are with all those who went through this horrific and traumatic experience. ...
    6 days ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • The CIA Torture Report
    Earlier this week, the United States Select Committee on Intelligence released the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  The report, which was five years in the making, looked into the CIA’s interrogation techniques from 2001… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • The CIA Torture Report
    Earlier this week, the United States Select Committee on Intelligence released the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  The report, which was five years in the making, looked into the CIA’s interrogation techniques from 2001… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Haere Rā 2014
    We’ve almost reached the end of the Parliamentary year so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my highlights of the term in this blog post. It’s been an absolutely hectic year juggling an election campaign… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Labour applauds High Court decision on Ruataniwha
    Today’s decision by the High Court on the Ruataniwha scheme is a victory for NewZealand’s environmental groups, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson RuthDyson. ...
    1 week ago
  • A welfare system for the 21st Century
    Today Child Poverty Action Group released a background paper on ‘The complexities of ‘relationship’ in the welfare system and the consequences for children.‘ The report includes 16 recommendations to modernise our welfare system which is no longer fit for the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Welfare system out of date and out of touch
    A new Child Poverty Action Group report released today highlights another example of how our outmoded social welfare system is harming kids, says Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The complexities of how a ‘relationship’ is defined in the welfare… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere