Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What is Greed?

I was driving into work today and there was an interesting question that had been posed on a local radio station. They were talking about the large pay differential between CEOs and common laborers. One side was crying outrage! There should be more transparency in wages and more equality. The viewpoint was equally loud in saying that CEOs are indispensable. They provide direction, strategy, create the culture, etc. Without a solid leader the whole thing falls apart into anarchy. There is no "thing" without the workers to give it life. Both sides are correct but that doesn't end the conversation on what is right and what is wrong. How much can or should a CEO be paid?

Then a CEO called in from a small iron working corporation. He made a six-figure salary and the next highest paid individual only made 62.5% as much as he did. His strategy was to employ profit sharing. Everyone does get a base salary but profit sharing allows everyone to get paid more when the company performs better and the opposite is also true. It gives everyone skin in the game so to speak. It is a good way to approach the problem head on but then another caller voiced a question that readdressed what the real problem was entirely: "Wages aren't the real problem but a lack of accountability and mismanagement of funds by our government. Where do my taxes really go? Even if I get a better paying job, does that money really help anyone when it goes to taxes?"

Are our roads getting fixed? Why does my money go to welfare when welfare is being currently treated as a regular source of income when it was designed to be a transitional supplement that helps individuals to get by until they get back into the workforce? How much of the issue is the "1%"-ers versus our public representatives and public servants? Is the issue the system or is it human nature? And if it is human nature, how does one really define greed? Is it a bad thing or a good thing?

Morally, greed is a bad thing. Greed isn't necessarily all about money. It isn't defined as people who make x amount of money. There is no specific benchmark. So if it isn't inherently the money that is the issue, what is the issue? I believe that greed is bad because it is the inherently selfish motivation to accumulate resources of any kind. It is sole desire to need more. We need resources so we can have additional options or to increase our ability to choose. More resources allow for more freedoms. These resources include money, time, skills, etc. So are all CEOs greedy people? No. Is an inherent competitive desire to be better necessary to be a good CEO? Probably. Better than whom? Other people? Ourselves? Our past? Everyone? I feel like someone who is trying to provide for others, whether that is their family or their country or their employees, is someone who is the very opposite of greedy. Charity is about giving. Someone who honestly wants to help and serve people, regardless of their wealth, is not greedy.

Mathematically, greed can be defined in a way... Greed is exponential. It is about pursuing a maximum limit. It is about having more than anyone else. Greed is about gaining x without choosing to give away y. Charity is about choosing to give away y regardless of the value of x. Greed is selfish and charity is selfless. So what is the nature of our government? What is your nature? Who are you? What are you? It is something to think about because our desires are what guide our growth and our natures.