What Exactly IS Greed?

by Ron Haynes

No Known Restrictions: New York - Paris race drivers from the Bain Collection, 1908 (LOC)Greed has been thrown around quite a lot over the past few weeks. This banker was greedy, that corporate CEO was greedy, this hedge fund manager was greedy, that real estate investor was greedy. Everyone loves to assign negative characteristics to others, especially when those others that have more [insert any item] than the average person. Is that wise? What IS greed exactly?

According to Miriam Webster online:

Greed is the selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed.

Whoa, that hurts. What would happen if we turned the spotlight back on ourselves rather than pointing fingers at everyone else?

  • Do you or I really “need” a 52 inch flat screen?
  • Do you or I really “need” cable TV?
  • Do you or I really “need” a television at all?
  • Do you or I really “need” another round at the buffet line?
  • Do you or I really “need” a home with 2,800 square feet?
  • Do you or I really “need” a new car/boat/RV in the driveway?
  • Do you or I really “need” granite counter-tops?
  • Do you or I really “need” new landscaping or a pool?
  • Do you or I really “need” to live a comfortable, easy life in retirement?
  • Do you or I really “need” to send our kids to Ivy League schools?
  • Do you or I really “need” a closet full of clothes?
  • Do you or I really “need” a new pair of shoes or another pair of jeans?
  • Do you or I really “need” a new set of tools?
  • Do you or I really “need” a new iPod?
  • Do you or I really “need” a new laptop?
  • Do you or I really “need” another meal in a restaurant?
  • Do you or I really “need” another bathroom addition?
  • Do you or I really “need” a fabulously expensive vacation?
  • Do you or I really “need” another sale, another customer, another project?
  • Do you or I really “need” more cash in the bank?
  • Do you or I really “need” more of anything we already have?

There are literally scores of items I could add to this list … and you could, too, I’m sure. So why do we complain about the “greed” on Wall Street, when it’s so prevalent in our own lives on a daily basis? The dictionary has another word for that.

The real question in my mind is WHY? Why do we think we need so much? Why are we so insecure? Why do we constantly have the desire to acquire? What do we gain by having more?

What is your opinion? I’d like to generate some real discussion on this without resorting to the politics of the situation. After all, greed runs across all political parties.

What are some other examples of greed that are ignored?

photo credit: pingnews.com

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.