Greed is a virtue, envy is a vice 6

Greed is not a vice.

Envy is a vice. Envy is the besetting sin (in a secular sense) 0f the Left.

But greed is a virtue.

Walter Williams explains:

What human motivation gets the most wonderful things done? It’s really a silly question, because the answer is so simple. It turns out that it’s human greed that gets the most wonderful things done. When I say greed, I am not talking about fraud, theft, dishonesty, lobbying for special privileges from government or other forms of despicable behavior. I’m talking about people trying to get as much as they can for themselves. Let’s look at it.

This winter, Texas ranchers may have to fight the cold of night, perhaps blizzards, to run down, feed and care for stray cattle. They make the personal sacrifice of caring for their animals to ensure that New Yorkers can enjoy beef. Last summer, Idaho potato farmers toiled in blazing sun, in dust and dirt, and maybe being bitten by insects to ensure that New Yorkers had potatoes to go with their beef.

Here’s my question: Do you think that Texas ranchers and Idaho potato farmers make these personal sacrifices because they love or care about the well-being of New Yorkers? The fact is whether they like New Yorkers or not, they make sure that New Yorkers are supplied with beef and potatoes every day of the week. Why? It’s because ranchers and farmers want more for themselves. In a free market system, in order for one to get more for himself, he must serve his fellow man. This is precisely what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant when he said in his classic “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (1776), “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” By the way, how much beef and potatoes do you think New Yorkers would enjoy if it all depended upon the politically correct notions of human love and kindness? Personally, I’d grieve for New Yorkers. Some have suggested that instead of greed, I use “enlightened self-interest.” That’s OK, but I prefer greed. …

Prior to the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one’s fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce it as efficiently as possible. …

Free market capitalism has … enemies — mostly among the intellectual elite and political tyrants. These are people who believe that they have superior wisdom to the masses and that God has ordained them to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Of course, they have what they consider to be good reasons for restricting liberty, but every tyrant who has ever lived has had what he considered good reason for restricting liberty. A tyrant’s agenda calls for the attenuation or the elimination of the market and what is implied by it — voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrant thinks they should do. They want to replace the market with economic planning and regulation.

The Wall Street occupiers and their media and political allies are not against the principle of crony capitalism, bailouts and government special privileges and intervention. They share the same hostility to free market capitalism and peaceable voluntary exchange as tyrants. What they really want is congressional permission to share in the booty from looting their fellow man.

Posted under Commentary, Economics by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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This post has 6 comments.

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  • Anonymous

    I submit that greed is not a virtue, as its the way the greed is carried out that is virtuous or villainous. 

    Public unions are greedy, but they don’t advance civilization. It’s when people satisfy their greed by using positive-sum gains that greed makes the world a better place.

    • George

      I agree Michael.    Greed can cause a person to be totally selfish, stingy, betray their friends and relatives , co-workers, associates, colleagues, and business partners—and that in itself is NOT virtuous in any sense. Sure greed can motivate one to go out and achieve —but generally it would be for  oneself and  NOT for the benefit of society , the culture, one’s country, or the general populace. There are exceptions of course. I don’t agree ENTIRELY with Walter Williams  on this. Greed CAN be a motivator and it very well could be a destroyer as well.  It depends on the circumstances  ( just MY opinion of course ).  Point well taken.

  • Liz

    So true, exposing the hypocrisy of the Left.     

    • George

      The left certainly to the umpteenth degree are indeed hypocrites.  I have to admit though that  I have seen a great deal of greed on the right as well ( just to be totally honest ) . I have seen a number of  Fortune 500 corporations send  American jobs overseas such as China, Taiwan, and elsewhere to have products made for pennies and are cheaply made ( sometimes knowingly with child labor and horrible work conditions ) —-all for the sake of massive outrageous profit  and then they charge outrageous prices in selling the products domestically.  Yes, the purpose of business is to make a profit , however  when it goes to the extreme it can very well be exploitative, oppressive and sometimes enslaving.   Some wars and civil conflicts have started as a result of extreme  greed. I have witnessed  horrendous greed on both the right and left and I won”t bother to debate who has the upper hand at such.    Envy can also cause a person to be caniving and treacherous and untrusting. Not always , but that too depends on the circumstances.   Currently the most deceitful hypocrites ( especially in the political “camps”  ) are indeed those of the liberal left.

      • Liz

        I guess the bottom line is that greed is part of human nature, and can be satisfied either honestly or dishonestly.  With capitalism, at least its possible to achieve wealth honestly.  With leftism, that is never possible because their whole basic premise is the hypocrisy of “compassion” for the poor, under the guise of which they loot, plunder, and gain control of the rest of society.

        • George

          Liberals claim that they are all for the ethnic minorities and women. The truth is  that they  just use both respectful groups to get votes and promote their dubious self-serving agendas under the guise that they care and are concerned. .      Women and minorities become their –” useful tools”  to further their cause. As a result minorities become massive wards of the state or slaves to the government and lose their ( or OUR  ) work ethic or ambition for successful achievement.  Women are also used to promote the liberal  left-wing political agendas. I hate to admit it Liz , but my ethnic group has been so gullible, fooled, hoodwinked, bamboozled, conned, shammed and used that it’s truly pathetic. I find it so embarrassing.  See ya later Liz—take care.