What’s So Bad About Greed?

It’s one of the seven so-called deadly sins… Greed. If there ever was an evil incarnate on this earth, greed would be it.

I’m an atheist, folks, so you’ll not be hearing much “God says” or “the Bible says” in my articles. I don’t believe in good or evil either. They are just agreed upon limits from which a society’s mores evolve. Greed is an exception, though. Greed is probably the driving force behind much that is wrong currently in our little world. If it isn’t religion killing thousands, it’s probably some greedy bastard(s) instead.

Whether it be greed for material things (gold) or greed for power (control), the individual under the influence of that greed can never be a benefit to those around him or to the world he lives it. Greed destroys in its headlong rush to gain that for which it lusts. True greed respects no societal mores, no individual feelings, no humane beliefs. It’s a wild beast salivating over the prospect of a bloody meal.

Don’t mistake me here. I’m not saying that achievement is wrong or that having a nice Mercedes Benz automobile is wrong. I’m saying that if you are driven to steam roll over everything and everyone in your path to own nine Mercedes Benz automobiles, then there might be a problem.

It’s nice to have nice things. Everyone likes nice things… a new car, a soft bed, a good meal. Comfort is a natural goal for humans. We seek comfort and security and avoid pain. All animals do the same. When you find yourself unable to stop once you’ve gained what you needed, then you may have a problem. If your goal was to be rich enough to buy the 80′ yacht, why did you pass it up to acquire the 160′ one?

Greed is a sickness, I believe. It’s a taint smeared on young minds by ad executives and Wall Street moguls. More is better, they tell you. We hear it from birth, practically. We are instilled by our parents to achieve goals that overshadow the ones they achieved. It’s almost a form of vicariousness. Our parents didn’t quite achieve what they wanted in life, so that crack the whip on us to get out there and do it… become that doctor or that lawyer that dad wish’d he’d been. Instilling ambition and goal-seeking in your children is a good thing, but not when you’re pushing them into something you wanted but never achieved.

Greed is inherited, I think. The old money in this world instill in their progeny the same greed that obtained them their wealth. The greedy inclination in the children of the mega-rich pushes them to increase the family wealth, then their own children come along and the chain continues. It seems as though greed perpetuates greed almost as much as poverty and despair perpetuate themselves in this world.

I have nothing against the rich. I do not subscribe to that “redistribute the wealth” BS. I’m not a socialist. I’m just trying to say here that if a 5000 square foot home in a nice neighborhood is enough for you and your wife, then why are you building that 20 room mansion on the lake? You’re just going to rattle around in it. Stop trying to impress others and do what you want to do to make yourselves happy. Live for yourself, not for the folks who read the society page of the newspaper. Your goal in life should be to seek contentment, but not be a detriment to others along the way.

Greed is NOT good. A little less greed in this world would make it a much nicer place in which to live. We’ll work on the religious fanatics another time.

Until next time, folks…


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  • ebrke  On May 12, 2010 at 14:18

    Unfortunately, I think there is a type of person who is simply craves more and more material goods. Something about filling a void in their soul, I think.

  • leftystrat  On May 12, 2010 at 14:45

    Yes, but are you a *devout* atheist?

  • chrisretusn  On May 12, 2010 at 22:41

    Excellent write up Eric. I could agree more.

  • jdnene  On May 13, 2010 at 02:20

    I agree that greed is bad for everyone.
    A few points…
    As far as children go, until they learn control, they are greedy from the beginning. It’s part of their make up. It is we as parents, and society that must teach them.
    In todays society, it’s become almost impossible to shield a child from corporate greed. We do try! But, it is in our school curriculum ( along with the idiots deciding what we can and cannot teach children through textbooks), it’s in media of piers, and their parents, it’s advertised on billboards, magazines…
    As adults, I think we all have moments. Sometimes it stems from actually having been poor…
    Regardless of the where and why’s it’s going to be human nature to want, and for those that take it to unlimited ridiculousness, or corruption and detriment to others.
    I agree that people have become corperaate ( and religion is tied to that) greed’s sheep and have forgotten – or become too comfortable- with not thinking for themselves.
    Maybe it takes losing it all an facing reality before understanding comes. I’d be willing to bet many people never get to that point. They fall short from bitterness, anger, and revenge and lose site of what is important.

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 12:43

      Hello jdnene…

      You make excellent points, particularly the one about children being greedy from the beginning. Not being a parent, I hadn’t thought of that. However, there is some truth to it. Children always want all/more of everything.

      Thank you for stopping by…


  • Ashram  On May 13, 2010 at 10:51

    “What’s so bad about greed?”

    Nothing, so long as it’s tempered by good sense and consideration of others.

    For instance, what motivates you to work for what you want? Greed towards what you want is what gets you going; the object of the greed doesn’t necessarily have to be money.

    But, do YOU control YOUR greed or do YOU let it control YOU?

    Greed is like any other attitude: it can be controlled or it can be allowed to control.

  • TedInATL  On May 13, 2010 at 11:27

    I’m thinking the construction workers and craftsmen who make a good living for several months building that 20 room mansion might disagree with you.

    Many accused Bill Gates of being greedy, and now they keep their mouths shut while he beocmes the greatest philanthropist the world has ever known.

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 12:48

      Hi TedInATL…

      Did you ever wonder why the mega-rich are usually such great philanthropists? Read the U.S. Tax Code. It’s to their absolute advantage to be so. The small percentage of their fortune that they provide for the benefit of their fellow man shields that VAST majority of their fortune from the Tax Man. That Tax Code was written by those same mega-rich. One thing they’re not is stupid.

      Sorry for my cynicism.

      Thanks for stopping by…


  • Ross  On May 13, 2010 at 13:03

    Hey VT Erik,
    Maybe you just inadvertently put up a better case for the Biblical understanding of sin – ‘original’ sin – than any of your Christian buddies could have. Good and Evil might be agreed upon limits… why then are we all agreeing that Greed is an evil with no limit or that we don’t seem to be able to limit

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 13:21

      Hi Ross,

      I don’t have too many Christian buddies. They tend to shun atheists.

      Why are we all agreeing? Well, you may have missed the very next line after where I spoke about society’s agreed upon limits… “Greed is an exception, though.”

      Anywho… thanks for stopping by.


  • Buffet  On May 13, 2010 at 20:57

    My cure for those greedy bastards? I take from the rich, and I give to me!!

  • susan  On May 14, 2010 at 19:10

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  • Diane McCarthy  On May 21, 2010 at 06:20

    Hi Eric–

    You are so right about greed in our society. Basically it is a malady of the same sort as other addictions–food, drugs, sex, power, and money.

    And our society celebrates it right along with the sex and power. And if people could learn to be satisfied with what they need instead of trying to out acquire their neighbors, the whole earth would be better off. People only begin talking about redistributing wealth when people begin to fall short of earning what they need by working for the ones who are trying to accumulate as much as they can and not compensating the workers any more than they must.

    And it is a long standing tradition for the wealthy (royalty and aristocrats) to provide for the people under them in exchange for collecting taxes. Our society that leads people to believe that anyone can get rich if they work hard enough provides an excuse for the wealthy to say they don’t need to do it any more. But poverty is not that easy to shed and those who get wealthy on the labor of those of us down in the trenches do have a duty to continue to help all in society be safe and protected.

    Keep at it–and I would be glad to be one of your Christian friends!

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 21, 2010 at 15:25

      Hi Diane!

      Friends are good to have regardless of race, creed, religion, or political preferences. We’re all different… and should be. It would be pretty boring otherwise.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Also, saw you signed up over at Out of the Woods. Hope we haven’t scared you away already. 😉



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