Thursday, January 19, 2017

good greed 1 of 2


Is greed good, as proclaimed by Gordon Greko and Ayn Rand?  Of course it is.  It serves a purpose, as do all cultural traits that have both positive and negative aspects.  You can’t just listen to Righties, who advocate unlimited unbridled greed, because then you get a screwed economic system such as we’ve seen here in the US for nearly fifty years and which will be the death of us yet ( of course, greed is just a symptom rather than a cause, but no need to pick nits here to make our point ).  And you certainly can’t listen to Lefties as they ignore the positive aspects of greed in their unhindered quest to deny humans have a biological side but only a blank mental slate.  On the one hand you get bankers and their whores pushing an entire empire towards a colonial Third World country status as they enrich only themselves and on the other hand you get social engineering which pulls such boneheaded moves as excusing crime because of skin color and putting females in charge of defense ( if you are confused why this might be the worst idea since masturbating with a cheese grater- thank you Andrew Dice Clay-picture your local Hippie kindergarten teacher who swoons over vaguely gun-like shapes becoming Defense Secretary ).


On the negative side, greed encourages short term thinking, the tendency to ignore unintended consequences, can be  destructive to group cohesion and encourages no shortage of poor behavior.  I would find it hard to believe that every single reader here couldn’t come up with dozens to scores or even hundreds of examples of greed’s destructive side.  Marriages ending with damaged children, environmental catastrophe exchanged for mere pennies extra profit, encouragement of torture and murder, genocide.  Can you blame certain folks from recoiling completely from greed driven systems such as capitalism?  I’m certainly not saying that the alternative is better, only that one should be able to clearly see the motivating factor in seeking alternatives.  All the current “kicking the can down the road”, doubling down on past destructive actions?  Pure unbridled greed with barely a single redeeming value ( any rewards from installing a privately run central bank to grow our empire were realized in the first half century of its existence.  Since then all the destructive aspects of that choice have been in clear view and the only good thing we can say about it is that without it-yes, I’m talking to you, gold bugs and libertarians-the total economic collapse would have occurred generations ago ).


I’ll come back to that shortly, kicking the can, but for now let’s start at the beginning of the positive aspects of greed.  Greed is, simply, a cooperative mechanism between hostile groups.  With greed as a factor, trade is possible.  Without greed, we would see a lot more warfare and all the negatives that accompany it such as slave trading, female abduction and infanticide.  So, all you Birkenstock wearing armpit hair braiding Volvo driving greasy hippies out there wanting world peace, think how peaceful we would be if we needed to forcefully abscond with the goods we needed rather than trading for it.  Trade takes place as both groups in the transaction are greedy and want a good deal.  They aren’t trading because they are bored and it seems like a nifty hobby.  Greed also helps in such things as cooperation.  If a warlord is better enriched through cooperation rather than employing force, both sides win, peacefully.  If a defender spends less bribing a barbarian horde protection money than on extra defense ( or, more expensively, offense ), the greed of the man saved lives.


Revenge, vendettas and blood feuds are a means of defense.  Screw with me and even if you better me now I’ll make your great grandchildren rue the day your loins spat forth its seed ( damn, I’m poetic at times ).  And what shortens the length and severity of these defenses?  Greed.  A blood price is usually sufficient to restore the peace.  Greed is a social lubricant.  A healthy culture is highly xenophobic.  Outsiders are danger.  A blanket condemnation for others, which the other individuals were powerless to effect anyway-it isn’t your fault where you were born-but suffer for nonetheless, serves the purpose of directing a groups survival actions.  Nobody has time, nor can realistically be expected to without endangering themselves, to individually judge the merits of each outsider.  A blanket judgment errs on the side of caution.  But greed is a wormy little bastard that can tamper that survival instinct.  Greed for a bride price encourages cooperation with the other tribe.  Greed for wives, period, when the natural inclination is to favor male offspring ( extra warriors, who fight much harder to capture the females lacking in their tribe ).  Abduction is practiced but peaceful mating between tribes also takes place.  Again, fueled by greed.  Both for wives and for peace as two tribes then share blood lines.


So greed tampers natural hostility.  It encourages trade over war ( although war always happens eventually-yes, I’m talking to you, idiots muttering “can’t we all just get along?” and “give peace a chance” and “war, what is it good for?” ).  And yes, it makes a virtue out of a vice, with a group kicking the can down the road.  Greed can be blamed for placing the society in the precarious position, true, but that is simply the nature of empire.  All groups share the same dynamic, from start to finish.  What greed does is allow the group to survive for a little while longer before collapse and near complete destruction.  Kicking the can does indeed make the collapse more severe, but collapse was already baked into the cake, anyway.  Your choices are, 1) die from starvation and disease tomorrow, or 2) die from starvation and disease TWO days after tomorrow.  Dead is dead, either way.  Collapsing earlier never saves more people.  How can it?  We’ll talk on that tomorrow.

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  1. There is excessive greed, and then there is regular greed. Excessive greed wants to get not only a fair price or a good price for the goods sold but every last drop of profit in every way possible, even if in the long term it ends up being stupid. Excessive greed is usually stupid - ask the professional carrier pigeon hunters. But excessive greed often wins out over more moderate stances- i.e: after all if you steal ALL the other tribes young women, and manage to keep them, you will have a next generation and the other tribe wont; If the consumers spend *all* their money on your products they wont be able to spend any on a competitors; etc.
    All excessive greed has long term consequences.
    Normal level greed (wanting a modest profit, a fair or good but not great deal, etc,) only leads to destruction when paired with a lack of shame or long term thinking and/or becomes excessive greed.
    Shame. And individual responsibility. Those two things used to keep excessive greed in check. Now our society knows no shame, and the corporates and bankers running the show are immune to responsibility. Only the (diminishing) fear of pitchforks and torches has kept their excessive greed from stripping everyone into total and bluntly obvious slavery -so far.

    1. Shame and responsibility were cultural constructs. Once our culture started to erode, bada bing.

    2. Yep. And it is NOT religious. I know plenty of shameless people who attend church every sunday.
      I think it is population density. In the more rural areas social censure is far more powerful. Everyone knows , in passing at least, everyone else local. And if you do something socially disapproved of you will suffer socially for it. In a bigger city though there is a wider diversity of cultural backgrounds AND even if people there know you and what you did (unlikely unless it makes the nightly news for more than a couple of days) their tolerance for other cultural backgrounds means they are less likely to spit into your soup and only, at most, give you the cold shoulder (and then there are the fame/infamy chasers who will embrace your notoriety).
      A population of 50 million more evenly distributed over 50 states vs a population of 400 million tightly concentrated in a dozen major megaopolis urban areas.
      One had shame and honor. One doesn't. It isn't hard to guess why. And the lack of shame/honor means there is MORE pressure to urbanize and grow in concentrated environs.

    3. I guess that is the big draw of the big city. No one is all in your business any more. Of course, no one looks after you either.

  2. LMAO

    I literally *just* listened to a Joe Rogan Podcast where he was talking with a guy who covered this.

    TL;DL (to long, didn't listen).

    Greed and selfishness for an individual beats co-operation within a high trust organisation / society

    A society of greedy & selfish societies (Low trust) gets it's behind handed to it by societies / organisations that a co-operative.

    Low Trust societies include those in the Middle East

    High Trust societies are European, in particular the Nordic nations.

    Greed is good = Enron
    Co-operative = Pixar

    For Bison Prepper initiates he also had another good point that resonated with me. That is, just because you're (Nation, company, sports team, religion, family etc) successful doesn't mean you always WILL be.

    He gave the example of Constantinople - the walls stood against all aggressors for over 1,000 years. Then one day they didn't and they paid a horrific price. The good news about it for us though is that THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS made a great song about it ;-)

    1. Didn't the walls get breeched by cannon fire rather than non-cooperation?

  3. Humans are good at taking advantage of short-term windfalls. Finding a hive full of honeycomb in the cold winter (bees don't fly well in the cold) when half-starved could be why a person makes it to spring sprouts. Learning that pretending to be crazy/useless can result in a "mental deficient" rating worth $1500/mo cash and $3K in "prizes" can be highly motivating to a person working a part-time job that doesn't pay the cheapest rent. Is it worth being "environmentally moral" (Save the Bees), or "Socially Correct" (don't be a bum/mooch) to deny the benefits of such windfalls? Survivors take the prize, and reproduce.

    Collapsing early instead of later may leave some ability for the natural system to support some (well below the previous peak numbers) earlier. A fully-destroyed ecosystem might be a "dead zone" to ag-civ for hundreds or thousands of years, until the soil rebuilds and animals return. 10 half-lives of whatever nasty isotope? Until the automated defense robots decay enough to be mostly non-lethal?


    1. Collapsing early no benefit was meant from a human death standpoint rather than an environmental one. You have a good point, but no empire collapses until after the wires are stripped from the house frame.