I recently commented on Don Dodge’s blog post because Don is bestowing the virtues of Greed. In response I said:
“it seems to me that greed and selfishness is at the route of the current downturn. Like fear greed also has its downsides. Too much greed becomes destructive. The Bernard Madoff is a good case in point.”
To which Don responded in agreement, saying:
“It is hard for a confirmed capitalist that believes in free enterprise to admit this…but, you are right, greed has gotten totally out of control. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the Wall Street derivative / credit swap mess, the Madoff ponzi scheme fraud, all driven by uncontrolled greed. I have never been a fan of regulation, but these cases certainly point out why there must be regulation and oversight on certain sectors. Sad but true”
Like many things in life greed, fear, etc left unchecked can create imbalance. The very thing that motivated us can become destructive. We have known the perils of greed for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Yet history repeats itself.
Avaritia (Greed), 1558 by Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder. A landscape depicinting the consequences of greed.
“Scraping Avarice sees neither honor nor courtesy, shame nor divine admonition.”
Today the greedy Bankers in London and New York don’t seem to be showing much shame. The University where I studied my MBA has a very strong focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and business ethics. Unfortunately it seems to me many businesses often only pay lip service to CSR and some business leaders have very few ethics. Is the caricature Gorden Gecko right when he says greed is in our nature:
“Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
I know it’s only a film but art often mimics life. The Enterprise 2.0 blogger Susan Scrupski recently said of Generation X “Our narcissism is our legacy.” I think the problem of greed maybe more fundamental than just one generation. The question is what we and our next generation do about how much greed drives the future?
My other Banking crisis related posts:
Laughing at the Bankers expense
Christmas nightmare on Wall Street