Everyone Hates Greed, But We’ve Changed the Definition

Greed is a sin.  One of the mythical 7 deadly.  It’s decried in the holy books of every religion.  In all of human history and literature we define greed as a negative.  And there’s no question that today people still revile greed.  But what constitutes greed seems to have been so defined down that what used to be greed is now just doin’ bizness.

When FDR created the SEC and other protections of the New Deal only a small minority of business oriented politicians and elites argued against the new regulations.  People knew what greed was and saw it in every mechanism of capitalism that allowed a handful of super wealthy with everything and hordes of poor people with nothing.

Today even in the wake of the second greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, there was huge opposition to every proposed reform.  Plenty of the general public has been convinced that squeezing every penny out of a business is just good business acumen. In fact, we’re told greed is good, it creates wealth (and then just forgets to distribute it, and no, it’s not ever good, it’s selfishness).  Whether it’s maximizing already large profits, taking every legal tax deduction, creating complex investment vehicles that promise riches but only deliver for the broker, getting someone to sign a bad contract – it’s not greed, just modern business.

We all hate greed.  But it’s like with the modern rules of rhetoric where you can’t call someone Hitler-like until they commit genocide, grabbing everything you can isn’t greed until it’s like foreclosing a 90 year old’s house for .27 cents. (Oh, Mnuchin did that!)

They want to bring us back to the Gilded Age and it’s our moral failing if we let them.

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