ramblings of an aimless mind

Just another Wordpress.com weblog

Is greed good?

leave a comment »

Here is an NY Times article that describes the change in India since the liberalisation in the 1990s.

No one who remembers the India from the late 1980s will need the NY times or any other media to tell them that things have improved for a large section of society. This change is primarily driven by greed. Someone’s greed to have more money, more power, more fame or simply more contentment, which drives them to create companies, technologies, schools and charities that serve as conduits for benefits to trickle around to other people in society. Yet it is taken for granted and often, even vilified.

Michel Douglas is often quoted as saying “Greed is good” in the movie “Wall Street”. This quote has been used time and again to show the capitalist system to be made of immoral, money grabbing thugs. However, that quote is incomplete. The complete line is “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”, and the additional words make all the difference.

The difference they make is that the “greed” is not material greed any more, but is whatever that makes the practitioner feel good about themselves. Someone like Patrick Awuah will be “greedy” to setup an first rate educational facility in Africa and produce as many good graduates as he can. This makes him feel good because he is contributing to his home nation’s development and ensuring his children don’t lose touch with their roots. To satisfy his “greed”, he enlists people in the USA for financial aid. The Americans involved are also “greedy”, because they can save on their tax, and they too get the feel-good factor of furthering a noble cause.

I use the word “greed” in quotation marks, because it shows that efforts are driven by people wanting more of something, even if that something may not be material gain. We would do good to create an environment where people are allowed to pursue their “greed” with minimum hindrance. It may be the most elegant solution to a lot of our problems.


Update: I had an opportunity to watch “Wall Street” again and realised that this post too missed out most of Gekko’s speech in the movie. A complete transcript can be found here. It is like a 3-5 minutes lesson in the fundamentals of economics.

Advertisements

Written by clueso

January 23, 2011 at 1:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: