Source: David Brin: Greed, Oligarchy & Marx
I’m going to quote Milton Friedman here in his 1979 interview on the Phil Donahue Show that you can see here as well. But Phil asked Professor Friedman essentially, what is greed and tried to explain why he believed greed was a bad thing. With Milton replying by saying, “what is greed? Do you think China, Japan, Russia and Europe don’t run on greed? Do you believe we as Americans aren’t greedy?” And he jokingly said which got a laugh from the audience, “it’s only the other guy whose greedy.” I would’ve added while everyone else is selfless. But Milton’s point there was perfect. Greed according to Webster’s, “is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.” Which could cover a whole lot of territory. I mean all we really only need to be able to move around, have enough food, a place to stay, security and health care, in order to survive and keep living.
I’m not making the case for excess and for people to make money off of others in an unfair manner by essentially stealing what others worked for to collect for themselves. I’m saying that greed in of itself is not a bad thing and when managed properly is a very effective and necessary tool to have a strong economy where economic freedom is available for others. Because you have a society where everyone is incentivized to get educated, work hard, be very productive and then yes collect the fruits of their labor. Because government isn’t taxing people to excess and being greedy with other people’s money. Even if they want to help the less-fortunate. But instead everyone has the opportunity to live well and be successful. To be able to take care of themselves economically and create those opportunities for their kids as well.
What we shouldn’t be doing from the Far-Left is to say that rich people have a lot of money and the poor and the lower middle class (Donald Trump voters) are struggling just to keep their jobs and pay their bills. So the answer here to take heavily from the rich and have government take care of everyone else. Which is what Phil Donahue advocated for in the 1970s and 1980s and what Senator Bernie Sanders and other Democratic Socialists, advocate today. Because then you would create an economy where no one is wealthy and no one can be greedy, because everyone is poor. Unless they have a sweet job with the central government. Because now you’re punishing success and wealth and subsidizing poverty. With people thinking they can just live off of government. But no one left to pay those bills.
Again, greed by itself is not a bad thing. Like anything else when there’s too much of stand when it goes uncheck, when power becomes unbalanced and absolute with one group of people with no checks and balances, is when greed becomes a problem. When you allow people to not only get real wealthy, which by itself is not a problem, but then when you let them essentially write off all of their tax burden and stick the middle class with the taxes for the rich, is when greed becomes bad. As much as Gordon Gecko believes greed is good. (Great Wall Street 1987 line) Greed is good, but so is water, but with too much water you can drown and with too much greed you could drown the economy leaving very little opportunity for anyone who isn’t real rich which will be most of the population.
I’m not a Socialist, especially not a Marxist and I’m not an Randian (named for Ayn Rand) When it comes to economics. But a Liberal in the Jack Kennedy sense (the real sense of liberal) who believes in individual freedom economic and personal, but for everyone. That yes you want wealthy people and you want an upper class. But not just for the privileged few, but for a lot of the country. With a strong middle class that isn’t lower, but able to not just pay their bills,but to live in a nice home, put their kids through college, put money away, health insurance for their whole family, retirement security, even be able to take a nice vacation with the money to finance that.
And instead of a country with lot of poor people and people one pay check and a lost job away from poverty, with very few rich people, you instead reverse that. With a country that has a strong middle class with people able to move up even from that, yes wealthy people but more wealthy people. And instead very few poor people with them having the ability to move up as well. With things like education, job training, infrastructure and economic development. You don’t get there by punishing wealth and subsidizing poverty. But instead encouraging wealth and subsidizing people and empowering people who need it to climb the economic ladder. So they too can be part of a strong middle class and ever do better than and become very rich themselves.
Mear Bhrach: Milton Friedman on Greed