Russell and Duenes

Response to: A Needful Reminder about Greed

with 9 comments

Instead of posting this in the comment section, I feel it is best served here.

If Wilson is correct in his statement that “In the Bible, greed is wanting to take other people’s money,” then the greediest people are those who devote their lives to wanting other people’s money. This is the mantra of Wall Street. It has permeated every pore of the financial sector of the world. It is not the mantra of government. I agree that government has a tendency for greed, but mostly to push agendas forward that aid their constituents (and sometimes their self interest). The constituency of Wall Street tends to be Wall Street (see Goldman Sachs). That is not to say that financiers on Wall Street don’t concern themselves with the financial outcomes of those who hire them, but their entire structure is built on making money for the sake of building wealth for themselves first and their constituents second. The government taxes to make money to provide services first. Are many government leaders greedy and corrupt: YES! But the overwhelming evidence points to Big Business as “designed for greed” versus government which is “greedy by default.” I think it makes a significant difference. I am not defending government, but rather casting the most dispersion upon the group that has the first level of blame in the current financial problem: Wall Street.

D-  I honestly don’t know why you feel you need to constantly defend Wall Street. It seems as if you are holding, as Wilson is, to some sort of conservative desire to promote unadulterated capitalism. Capitalism did not work in the housing crash- and it is OK for that to be the case. Capitalism may work in bringing us out of the crisis- that is OK too. But sometimes it just doesn’t work and greed is to blame. This is one of those times. Maybe you are seeking a sense of internal justice, to see everyone blamed for our financial mess, then we can blame the government and “common folk” too- there is enough blame to go around.

But Wall Street does not need a righteous defender. They need repentance not justification.



Written by Michael Duenes

April 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

9 Responses

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  1. Well said. And you are quite right that “wanting other people’s money” is not the mantra of government, which is why I write as I do. The deception is easier if you are taking people’s money for “good reasons,” as politicians always claim they are doing. You can hide your greed behind “government programs.” And I think it’s important again to remember that ONLY government has the power of coercion (Which is why the operative word is “take” other people’s money. No Wall Street firm can “take” my money, but the government can on pain of prison).

    I’m not against government involvement in our lives, and I think it has many good, God-ordained purposes, which have to be carried out by sinful men. So, I write on this topic not primarily because I want to defend free-market capitalism, though I think it needs some defending these days (particularly against the insinuations that anyone who wants to make a profit and be able to keep most of his profits to direct as he, not the government, sees fit is ipso facto greedy, and against the idea that centrally planned economies are better). But mainly because I get tired of the cultural lore being: “Wall Street = greed; Government regulators = good.”

    You’re probably right, I want to see blame assigned in ALL the places where it should be, and I don’t see that happening when it comes to foolhardy and bankrupt governmental policies that do significant damage in their own right and bear a large share of the blame for the mess we’re in. I see government policy and Wall Street greed being in a kind of symbiotic relationship. I don’t think Wall Street needs defenders, but it certainly doesn’t need any more detractors. And you’ll notice that my original post is not primarily about defending Wall Street as it is about assigning proper blame to politicians’ greed.

    No kind of greed is good; I think I said that at the outset. We’ve got plenty of Wall Street detractors these days, particularly coming from the likes of the NY Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, NBC Nightly News, NPR, etc, etc. I agree we need repentance on a national level, and we need it when it comes to our greed and we need it when it comes to seeing government as our savior. I guess I’m just the kind of guy that’s bothered by hearing mostly only one side of the story. More could be said, but that’s where I’m coming from.



    April 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm

  2. It’s important to note that money actually isn’t anything in and of itself. Greed can’t be about money, because money is useless. It’s the objects the money is going to be spent on that is the idol. That end goal is what people want and what people value more than God.

    In that sense, Wall Street is no different than main street which is no different than government: people will always put other things before God in their life. Indeed, many people act out their greed (for better health, more time, more luxury, etc.) by using the government to coerce the rich into giving to the poor. It’s legitimate stealing.

    Joshua House

    April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm

  3. Government operates by force, Wall Street operates by voluntary exchange.

    Which is morally superior?

    Forget stated intentions, what are the results? It’s clear to me the results of voluntary economies are better than those of government run economies.


    April 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    • Josh,
      “Greed can’t be about money?” Of course it can. Actually, it can be about money and often is because the object of desire is the accumulation of money itself. Do you think billionaires concern themselves with what $5 earned will buy them, or are they concerned with the accumulation of the money as an end goal? It may be about other goods, but it doesn’t have to be. Money IS something in and of itself.


      April 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

  4. Bates,
    Government “run” economies are not what I was discussing. Nor was I discussing, as a central question, whether or not government or Wall Street are run by force or voluntary exchange. Instead, I am discussing greed based on the definition presented by Wilson and used by Duenes. So, which one operates on the premise of greed based on the definition presented? Government functions on the premise of supplying the masses with what it needs (on a macro-level) which cannot be accomplished individually. Does government over step these bounds- yes, and often to our detriment. However, Wall Street functions on the premise of making money. Government does not. If we were to discuss which is better at “running economies” we have different issues to deal with.



    April 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    • R,
      I would be interested to know, as in, interested in hearing your honest opinion, why operating on the premise of “making money” would be bad, in and of itself?



      April 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  5. D-
    Making money is one thing- it is obviously a necessity. However, hoarding money, scamming others to get money, loving money (or as Josh points out, what it can buy), and operating on the Darwinian economic principle of “survival of the fittest” repulses me by based on my reading of the Scriptures. A major concern of mine is that many people justify these things by claiming they are a critical part of our “Americana” to satisfy a political bias. It only satisfies our own sin.


    April 29, 2010 at 7:40 am

    • R,
      Couldn’t agree more! I don’t believe robust, free-market capitalism necessitates or inherently promotes any of the things you listed, and if I thought it did, I’d be vehemently against it. And that’s what irks me. It’s the implication (not necessarily being made by you) that capitalism, by its very nature, promotes and necessitates hoarding, scamming, loving money and “survival of the fittest.” It manifestly doesn’t, and I get tired of the tropes saying that it does.



      April 29, 2010 at 8:21 am

  6. D-
    I totally agree that it does not, by its very nature, promote “hoarding, scamming, loving money and “survival of the fittest;” Neither does Communism, Socialism, Distributism, Feudalism, Mercantilism, Mixed Economies, Mutualism, Syndicalism or most other economic forms. Capitalism, as it is often practiced, is just a very good vehicle for greed.



    April 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

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