12 Days of (Irrational?) Visions – Have we Perfected Greed?

16 Dec

Over the course of the next 12 days I’ll be posting 12 future thinking concepts and applying the same methods I’ve been practicing with the various Ted Talks.  Why?  Cause it’s freakin fun and pointless, that’s why!

Day THREE – Have we Perfected Greed?

Two famous movie scenes depict notions of greed.

(Hey there’s a TED talk about Greed!  Bookmarked for the future)

There is a TIME article about how Greed is Good, but it uses monkeys and lemurs as their study.  Human sociology really ought to be just with humans.  Like ants work really well together too, so I guess that should mean monarchy is just as viable as well.

There’s actually too many weird statements in the article for it to be considered completely unbiased, but let’s face it, nothing is completely unbiased.  (Unless it’s just math or something.)

It also brings up an important point that I didn’t even think of addressing, in the sense that there is a function to having having wealthy people around.  That they should be protecting/caring for the entire group.  (I have no idea why it lists cars and iPhones as examples of this, those are luxury items (vs mass transit / no phone) and they don’t help the lowest classes in survival)

Anyways, back to the two movie examples:

(To be honest, it’s not really a very good speech these days.)

More significantly, it’s become exceptionally common for companies to post profits in the millions and then turn around and have layoffs.  Take, Warner Bros for example.

Operating profit at the time:  last gained 29% (234 Million in the quarter) but with overall Revenue declining 2.4% to 2.87 billion.

Look at those numbers, 234 MILLION quarterly profit and there’s still a need to cut operating costs?   Of course, the article addresses it first, stating it is a defensive measure from takeover.  (This actually makes sense)

Who is to blame for the fact the fired can no longer afford their homes or lose their dreams of retirement?  With the claim that it is a defensive measure, certainly one can’t blame the company.  So is it the bidder’s fault?

The common message today is a *shrug* “deal with it” mentality.  (More on this in a moment)

Second video

This speech is just fun to rehearse.  However it speaks upon a very concept, that we can sacrifice anything for ambition.

It is taught that society rewards ambition, a statement that kids (today or from any generation) might actually question.  Seriously, from hippies to hipsters, there is a defined sector (maybe.. those outside of business) that would believe that root cause of success does not stem from ambition itself.

This debate could go forever, so I’ll just assume a case here.  Let’s say that ambition is not the first cause of success.  That a guy can post a terrible home made game named “Flappy Bird” for fun and become the greatest success story of 2014.

How is this NOT related to greed or ambition?  He put it up in the app store so he must have been expecting a financial reward from it.

Well if you read the story, he thought it was ‘too addictive’ and took it DOWN.

IF that was in North America, they would have kept that game on forever, and maybe had a couple hundred layoffs to be more profitable.

(Crap, I can’t remember if this next point was from the Tipping Point or another book.  So, no link..)

In the ‘drug world’, most drug dealers pretty much earn minimum wage in contrast to the hours worked.  However, there is that ‘success story’ of that one guy who made so much money he lives the ‘high’ life.  So much that the risk, the multiple negative factors (violence, law breaking, etc) are just additional sacrifices to ambition.  It is weird that this mentality has become common among virtually every industry.  There are many people who want to be a wealthy actor or actress but out of the hundreds of thousands, we can literally name the few that make it.

Wow, all this is just introduction to the question ‘Have we perfected Greed?’.

Let’s look at several factors.

In cases where the monetary success goes to a KNOWN individual (ex Flappy Bird), there is attention that is driven.  This attention might be considered negative.

In cases where there is no known entity that receives all success, there is no attention.  If there is a restructuring today, it points to the concept of general process and no one is to blame.

The social acceptance of ambition being the source of success, allows for the ‘deal with it / suck it up / u mad bro’ mentality that exists.   This really is the modern day equivalent of “The poor are hungry, why not let them eat cake?” but upgraded to be less damning to the speaker.

If the poor are hungry, they should be more ambitious.

The cake quote is important because it addresses the ‘historical’ method of how massive inequality was dealt with.  The concept of revolt.  (Let’s just post the french one)

The thing about historical methodology, is what worked back doesn’t apply today.

This could go forever on why it doesn’t apply, but the easy answer is, greed (that’s the evil name, let’s name it ‘wealth accumulation’) has become perfected.

There is no growing resentment against wealthy people.

(Please note, I’m being quite specific with that)

Another way to say it:  The people of Bedford Falls do not rise up against the slumlord, Henry Potter.

Except on SNL

So why aren’t people going around doing this?

(And as a critique, the beauty of the story is that Potter gets away with it.  He isn’t important to the happiness of the Bedford Falls)

This is because the general populace is, for the most part, happy.  (I literally make zero dollars and I’m a pretty happy guy.  I admire success and still hope to acquire it)  Interestingly, the disparity of wealth, was actually less during historical revolutions.  But due to social acceptances (eg> ambition model) and the fact there is no focused ‘hoarder’ to draw ire against, makes it a pretty good time to be a wealth accumulator.


Honorable Mention goes to another great business speech.  It’s just a shame that it isn’t applicable in today’s world.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: