Greed is good?

This is a response I gave during a Facebook discussion about an article discussing Gravity Payments’ CEO implementing a high minimum wage for his employees. We talked a bit about how this isn’t socialism, and I ended up writing this.

I think the culture of executive greed (being seen as a straightforward good for the world) is toxic – and we’re seeing the poison take hold. I’m not a huge fan of autocratic socialism – or any system that’s too quenching of liberty. In fact, I see society – or the social space – as our shared responsibility. It’s what makes it a democracy, right?

So we need to put limits on the greed of the few to make their living off the backs of the many. It’s where capitalism has started to – no. Not started – has absolutely demonstrated that it’s in contention with liberty and democracy.

I tend to be a capitalist in matters of economics, but the engine that runs capitalism is meant to be competition and fairness. Fairness only seems to work when we set limits. The state is what we make it, so when “the state steps in,” that should be the collective, democratic foot it steps with. This is in contrast to a state that looks to interfere with personal liberties. This is supposed to be the battle cry of the American conservative, but the most interfering social policies seem to come from that quarter now. Maybe the corruption of power has altered the trajectory in the last few decades?

I’m also a Christian, and I believe that the separation of church and state doesn’t exist to keep people of faith out of the public space. It gives the churches (and temples, mosques, and skeptics’ cafes) freedom to speak the truths they see; and for me, that is against greed. I don’t understand the logical steps between Christianity and hard-core capitalism. Sure, there are some fair things in that system which work well: you earn a living, and can make yourself better off – theoretically.

But “greed is good”? Tell me how that works when you get your camel through a needle.

*Photo by Zach Beauvais via [flickr]2 – [CC By-SA]

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