Saturday, March 05, 2005

Greed: One of the Seven Deadly Sins

The basis for a rebirth of the Democratic Party should be to establish a solid moral position that the electorate can get behind rather than chasing just enough votes to squeak ahead of the Republicans with a program very close to theirs. There is a paper at the link below that the DNC should all read that would go a long way toward this goal.

Greed: One of the seven deadly sins.

Here are a few excerpts:

An essay concerning the origins, nature, extent and morality of this destructive force in free market economies.

America is once again a nation of extremes. There is indeed a problem, and it has a history.
Historians Will and Ariel Durant (19) estimated in their survey that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in
America has become greater than at anytime since Imperial plutocratic Rome. The Durants show a cycle repeating through history. Great social inequality creates an unstable equilibrium. The swelling numbers of the poor and resentful come to rival the power of the rich. As grievances and restlessness grow, government worsens, becoming tyrannical. Eventually a critical point arrives. Wealth will be redistributed, either by politics, or by revolution.

Greed is not a rational force. Not all wealth is created by greed, and not all inequalities are caused by greed, but if you could start with a society of complete equals, unrestrained greed will be sufficient to quickly render that society unequal. Present inequality is vast enough, the chances for the poor to work to close up the gap are long gone. Inequalities of this magnitude tend to become hereditary, and by and large, the descendants of the American poor will be poor.

In a free society, some people's greed inevitably means deprivation for others. This does not require environmental limits, it only requires persistent and competitive self-promotion, and in a vast nation whose economy is two hundred years devoted to these principles, we now inhabit a society with a small fraction of astronomically wealthy individuals towering over a growing mass in poverty.
America is arguably now more unequal than any of the original European cultures,yet we cling to and proselytize a horribly outdated economic theory which implies equality but actually delivers more inequality. Greed is the outstanding wrong because it reverses the utilitarian ethic. It produces the greatest good for the smallest number. Democracy's founding virtues are freedom and equality, so greed without restraint, producing great inequalities, becomes an undemocratic force.

What about the churches? Their purpose for existence includes helping the weak. If each church took in 6 homeless, there would be no more homelessness.

First, this society should decide how low any member can go. That establishes minimum rights. It requires we identify the least-advantaged person in society, and draw focus to him. Next, the very top and the very bottom of society should be (and all intermediate levels should be) connected, as if by a loose linked chain. Then if the top rises, it pulls the bottom up with it. If the bottom moves up, that closes the gap toward equality. This arrangement does not prevent any upward rise; but it establishes consequences on movements at the top.

Greed has to be reinstalled as a moral wrong, and in religious circles, as a sin.
We want our morality back!