Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Some Important Principles

 

Greed is not good. Acquisition is not the same thing as greed.

Greed is not good. Possession is not the same thing as greed.

Envy is not good. An economic system which brings harm out of envy is a bad system. Communism is such a system. In communism, envy seeks to satisfy itself by empowering politicians to take money from others–and we all know what power does.

Greed is not good. An economic system which brings good out of greed is a good system. A free-market system is such a system. A free-market system maximizes everyone’s ability to decide what to do with their own money. So the best way for greed to seek to satisfy itself is by persuading people to give up their own money in return for doing something for them; in a free transaction, greed only gets what it wants by serving others.

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  1. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    Amen and thank you!

    • #1
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:35 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    True! All true! It’s a fact proven over and over in history that society does best when people act in their own interests. It results in wonderful side effects.

    • #2
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:39 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  3. Vectorman Thatcher

    “Money is just a way of keeping score.” – H. L. Hunt

    “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” – Donald Trump

    • #3
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:45 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” – Donald Trump

    Hey, did you hear about this weird thing that happened? That guy was elected President! President! Ha! Ha, ha, ha!

    • #4
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:52 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  5. Zafar Member

    Saint Augustine: greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    Or hoodwinking them. Or just taking it.

    • #5
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:02 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    Or hoodwinking them. Or just taking it.

    Which means it’s not really a free economic decision.

    You’ve inspired a rephrase of the opening post!

    • #6
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:06 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Saint Augustine: In a free-market system . . . greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    A central element of Jesus’s revolution was service: “I came not to be served, but to serve.” A lot of Jews believed the Messiah would conquer in the usual way–through violence–and restore the State of Israel. But he came to establish a Kingdom based on voluntary submission to his Lordship, and even to one another.

    Voluntary exchange and peaceful negotiation are good. Coercion and theft are wrong.

     

    Taxes, for example…

    • #7
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:21 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    CJ (View Comment):

    Voluntary exchange and peaceful negotiation are good. Coercion and theft are wrong.

    Taxes, for example…

    Not sure I wanna stray into the weeds here, but I’m not opposed to taxes as such–by the consent of a representational government. I follow Locke on this one.

    • #8
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Zafar Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    Or hoodwinking them. Or just taking it.

    Which means it’s not really a free economic decision.

    Greed doesn’t care.

    You’ve inspired a rephrase of the opening post!

    Sorry.

    But I agree with you (I think?) that a system which harnesses individual greed works with human nature rather than against it.

    However: envy flows from greed, and can be a great motivator. Hence: keeping up with the Joneses.

    No?

    • #9
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    Or hoodwinking them. Or just taking it.

    Which means it’s not really a free economic decision.

    Greed doesn’t care.

    Yes. Greed isn’t good. A system that encourages bad to do good is a good sytem.

    You’ve inspired a rephrase of the opening post!

    Sorry.

    On the contrary, thank you!

    But I agree with you (I think?) that a system which harnesses individual greed works with human nature rather than against it.

    However: envy flows from greed, and can be a great motivator. Hence: keeping up with the Joneses.

    No?

    Sure. I wasn’t thorough. Maybe a free-market system can bring good out of envy too.

    • #10
    • February 21, 2020, at 9:54 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    However: envy flows from greed, and can be a great motivator. Hence: keeping up with the Joneses.

    Well, when it comes to analyzing the nature of the sins, I would imagine greed flows from envy more often: I want to keep up with the Joneses because I’m envious of them, and so I get greedy and want more. If they weren’t part of the picture I’d have less greed.

    Of course, there’s classic stuff analyzing the cardinal sins and what sins they lead to in Aquinas. But I left that book in Texas!

    • #11
    • February 21, 2020, at 10:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito Contributor

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    “Money is just a way of keeping score.” – H. L. Hunt

    “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” – Donald Trump

    Used that quote for Trump’s card in the Presidential Rumble game.

    Somewhat ironically the card predates his political career. These days I wouldn’t want to print it, for fear of the game inspiring knife fights.

    • #12
    • February 21, 2020, at 10:29 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  13. Samuel Block Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: greed cannot get what it wants without serving others.

    Or hoodwinking them. Or just taking it.

    Which means it’s not really a free economic decision.

    Greed doesn’t care.

    You’ve inspired a rephrase of the opening post!

    Sorry.

    But I agree with you (I think?) that a system which harnesses individual greed works with human nature rather than against it.

    However: envy flows from greed, and can be a great motivator. Hence: keeping up with the Joneses.

    No?

    I wonder if it’s always greed that is the initial motivator. The definition that I’ve found most useful (technically for avarice) was a sinful preoccupation with the material world. But I’ve always suspected that acquiring the respect we want from others is what motivates accomplishment.

    Surely there’s a long list of ingredients, but I think this is the mother sauce.

    • #13
    • February 21, 2020, at 10:57 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    I wonder if it’s always greed that is the initial motivator. The definition that I’ve found most useful (technically for avarice) was a sinful preoccupation with the material world. But I’ve always suspected that acquiring the respect we want from others is what motivates accomplishment.

    Surely there’s a long list of ingredients, but I think this is the mother sauce.

    Pride?

    • #14
    • February 21, 2020, at 11:25 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Samuel Block Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    I wonder if it’s always greed that is the initial motivator. The definition that I’ve found most useful (technically for avarice) was a sinful preoccupation with the material world. But I’ve always suspected that acquiring the respect we want from others is what motivates accomplishment.

    Surely there’s a long list of ingredients, but I think this is the mother sauce.

    Pride?

    Something like that. 🤔 You’re probably a better judge than me on religious matters. I’m pretty new to the game.

     

    • #15
    • February 21, 2020, at 11:30 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Zafar Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I would imagine greed flows from envy more often:

    If I didn’t want things, why would I care if the Joneses have more things than me?

    • #16
    • February 21, 2020, at 11:36 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I would imagine greed flows from envy more often:

    If I didn’t want things, why would I care if the Joneses have more things than me?

    If all you wanted was things, why would you care how much they have?

    • #17
    • February 21, 2020, at 11:40 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Samuel Block Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I would imagine greed flows from envy more often:

    If I didn’t want things, why would I care if the Joneses have more things than me?

    If all you wanted was things, why would you care how much they have?

    I thought a significant component of envy was wanting the other person to not have it. This would distinguish it slightly from jealousy, which is more straightforward; wanting the thing because they have it.

    • #18
    • February 21, 2020, at 11:57 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I would imagine greed flows from envy more often:

    If I didn’t want things, why would I care if the Joneses have more things than me?

    If all you wanted was things, why would you care how much they have?

    I thought a significant component of envy was wanting the other person to not have it. This would distinguish it slightly from jealousy, which is more straightforward; wanting the thing because they have it.

    And perhaps, in between them, wanting them to have less than you by whatever means.

    And I believe you are correct, at least as far as Aquinas goes. 

    (There may be a few words above that would have to be adjusted. I don’t think I’m going to do it.)

    • #19
    • February 22, 2020, at 12:10 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Vectorman Thatcher

    Samuel Block (View Comment):
    I wonder if it’s always greed that is the initial motivator. The definition that I’ve found most useful (technically for avarice) was a sinful preoccupation with the material world. But I’ve always suspected that acquiring the respect we want from others is what motivates accomplishment.

    At my first job after college, I understood why many companies want to hire engineers with 3-5 years of experience. For my first 2-3 years, I received a good salary for radio research but was relatively unproductive compared to others. They were being promoted, and I wasn’t envious of them. After a few breakthroughs, I pointed to my recent accomplishments to be promoted. As for the money received, if it tracked the others I wasn’t “greedy.” It’s not good for either the company or the individual if this isn’t done. It leads to the “sins” of greed, envy, and others within the company.

    For motivation, I strive for a patent idea every year, even after I’ve retired.

    • #20
    • February 22, 2020, at 3:00 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I would imagine greed flows from envy more often:

    If I didn’t want things, why would I care if the Joneses have more things than me?

    If all you wanted was things, why would you care how much they have?

    I thought a significant component of envy was wanting the other person to not have it. This would distinguish it slightly from jealousy, which is more straightforward; wanting the thing because they have it.

    On a recent episode of the Tom Woods show, guest David Gornoski discusses the Mimetic Theory of Rene Girard. Humans have an innate desire to copy each other, and so this (at least partly) accounts for why people desire to have what others have. That desire isn’t in itself bad, but can become twisted, leading to the use of illicit means when not tempered by moral principles.

    • #21
    • February 22, 2020, at 5:10 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Stad Thatcher

    Saint Augustine:

    Greed is not good. Acquisition is not greed.

    Greed is not good. Possession is not greed.

    Great words! I put both thoughts together and came up with this: “Greed is not good. Having more than someone else is not greed.” 

    • #22
    • February 22, 2020, at 5:23 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  23. Zafar Member

    Is greed part of humanity’s fallen nature? I think it may be. Even for the free marketers among us. 

    • #23
    • February 22, 2020, at 6:38 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Vectorman Thatcher

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Is greed part of humanity’s fallen nature? I think it may be. Even for the free marketers among us.

    When you have enough to (hopefully) survive without suffering, you no longer “need” to be “greedy.” Before that point, maybe we’re wired to get enough savings “for a rainy day.”

    • #24
    • February 22, 2020, at 7:51 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. RightAngles Member

    I don’t think we necessarily have to equate “acting in one’s own interests” with “greed.” It might also mean acting in the interest of protecting one’s family, especially one’s children. Or it can mean acting to protect property values which can affect the quality of life in your neighborhood or in your country. In those and other instances, acting in our own self-interest benefits others.

    I find that many on the left seize upon the things valued by conservatives and try to assign nefarious motives to them. For instance, they take our objection to illegal immigration and try to turn it into being against all immigrants. They take our legitimate objection to allowing children to begin the process of transitioning to the other sex, doing irreversible things to their bodies, with being anti-LGBTQ. It isn’t true, and it isn’t helpful.

    • #25
    • February 22, 2020, at 12:10 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  26. Zafar Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Is greed part of humanity’s fallen nature? I think it may be. Even for the free marketers among us.

    When you have enough to (hopefully) survive without suffering, you no longer “need” to be “greedy.” Before that point, maybe we’re wired to get enough savings “for a rainy day.”

    Perhaps most people are more evolved than me? I’d like to call it prudence but a lot of the time I know that I’m also feeling greed. 

    • #26
    • February 22, 2020, at 1:49 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    My hot wife and I were talking about this with the kids right before I hammered out the post. She’s a good chick.

    • #27
    • February 22, 2020, at 3:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Is greed part of humanity’s fallen nature? I think it may be. Even for the free marketers among us.

    Yes. Greed is explicitly identified as idolatry in the New Testament.

    And one does not have to think greed is good to be a free marketer. Quite the contrary–that’s a reason to support free markets, and hence this post.

    • #28
    • February 22, 2020, at 3:53 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I don’t think we necessarily have to equate “acting in one’s own interests” with “greed.”

    Amen.

    Greed is not good. Acting in self-interest is not the same thing as greed.

    (Not that I was entirely thorough in the opening post–these things that are not the same thing as greed can overlap with greed.)

    It might also mean acting in the interest of protecting one’s family, especially one’s children. Or it can mean acting to protect property values which can affect the quality of life in your neighborhood or in your country. In those and other instances, acting in our own self-interest benefits others.

    Amen.

    • #29
    • February 22, 2020, at 3:56 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Is greed part of humanity’s fallen nature? I think it may be. Even for the free marketers among us.

    When you have enough to (hopefully) survive without suffering, you no longer “need” to be “greedy.” Before that point, maybe we’re wired to get enough savings “for a rainy day.”

    Perhaps most people are more evolved than me? I’d like to call it prudence but a lot of the time I know that I’m also feeling greed.

    Yeah, these are non-identical but overlapping categories.

    • #30
    • February 22, 2020, at 3:58 PM PST
    • 3 likes