Fuck you, Gordon Gekko: Greed is not good.
In the original Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko's most memorable moment is when he launches into his monologue about how "greed is good." In the years since, the "greed is good" slogan has been trotted out again and again to tell us why capitalism is good and socialism/communism is bad. The cult of greed that was sown by Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in the 50s and 60s was reaped by Gordon Gekko in the 80s, and infused into every facet of American life since then.
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will [save] that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A."
Gordon Gekko's "greed is good" speech serves as the standard bearer for 80s excesses, "Reaganomics," and the trickle-down theory. Greed is credited for improving our lives through innovation and the competition which drives it. Greed is supposedly what moves us forward. Greed is the driver behind capitalism, and capitalism is what runs this country, not government. According to the Tea-Bagger set, government is utterly incapable of doing anything and should simply defer to private capitalistic enterprises. If we give ourselves over to capitalism and free market policies, we can solve our financial crisis. Bullshit.
Greed is not good. Greed isn't right. Greed doesn't work. It deceives and retards our progress as a society. Greed gave us Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, and Bernie Madoff. Greed gave us the S&L disaster. Greed gave us the tech-bubble of the late 90s. Greed gives us overseas outsourcing and offshore incorporation. Greed widens the chasm between the ends of the economic spectrum, and does so at the cost of jobs, wages, and the overall standard of living. Greed is what is wrecking America.
Greed is not good. It's a bullshit line that sociopathic money mongers spout to justify their conscienceless pursuit of more money, more property, more privilege, more, more, more. And if we lived in a society that was run like Lord of the Flies it might make sense. Instead, we live in a complete society, not Ayn Rand's paper-thin, two-dimensional society of moral and economic absolutism where people who can't fit into one of the two polar opposites, are simply discarded or disregarded.
Greed is selfishness. Greed doesn't give a flying fuck about what happens to this country so long as the capitalists and corporatists can turn a profit. No private company has done anything for society where the underlying motive was not for the profit of the company first. Greed did not put a man on the moon. Greed did not give us the Internet. Capitalism and greed, in their purest forms, are sociopathic. They are a psychological disease of self-centrism and egotism. "More and more for me, me, me" and fuck the consequences.
Without a doubt, within a capitalist system, we have to have competition. If you are better at a job than me, then you should get the job. If you make a better product than someone else, you should be successful. I have no argument with that. The best person wins. But we can't have a society that only rewards "winners" and leaves the losers on the side of the road to rot and die. We are better than that—we as human beings and fellow Americans cannot accept that kind of dehumanization and make irrelevant those who are not good enough to "win" at the game of capitalism.
Greed doesn't work. Greed got Glass-Steagall repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and permitted banks to engage in banking, insuring, and investing activities. By repealing Glass-Steagall and permitting banks to engage in banking, insuring, and investing, the market collapse of 2008/2009 was inevitable. The entire rationale of GLBA's repeal of Glass-Steagall was that banks wouldn't engage in the kind of risky investing that led to the market crash in 1929. They'd learned their lessons and, besides, they were the masters of the universe and too smart to make that kind of mistake. But greed drove banks to engage in riskier and riskier lending practices. Greed drove investment houses to engage in unregulated and impenetrably complex investment vehicles based on the results of those riskier and riskier lending practices. Greed drove insurers of the risky lending practices to back their policies with investments—investments based on the increasingly risky lending practices. Like NASA and the "Challenger" disaster, they took on increasing amounts of risk because they kept "getting away with it."
And when the house of cards started to collapse, greed made the banks (those that survived) come to the governments looking for a bailout. It was necessary to save our own pocketbooks and we did it. For once, our collective greed did something good for us.Tags: capitalism, economy, evil, government, greed, insanity