Friday, January 28, 2011

Actually, Greed is Good

The character Gorden Gekko, from the 1987 Oliver Stone film Wall Street is an artificial creation. Though perhaps inspired by very real individuals, he himself is not real. Despite this he has transcended from being just a writers creation to become a cultural icon – an inspiration many working in financial sector and many who don’t.

When this antagonist made the proclamation that “Greed is good” in the film, no one could have imagined that those three simple words would come to so accurately portray society and human desires.

In the consumer society, "I am what I have" is the operative definition of self. Though I didn’t always have the knowledge to accurately describe this concept, it was something that I’ve always had some understanding of, though in a vague sense.

It started in the 90’s - back in 1996, when my sister bought be a pair of Nike Air Jordans for Christmas. Now, I didn’t follow fashion at the time and had no idea of the cultural significance having a pair of Jordan’s meant. But I quickly found out.

The first day in school with these Jordan’s on gave me more attention from my peers in 5 minutes than I had received in my entire life – all because of those sneakers.  And I liked it. Who I was as a person was only supported (made interesting) by what I had  - and this case what I was wearing. 

‘Greed’ for attention? Yes. But lets be clear, greed in all its forms – greed for life, greed for money, greed for love captures the evolutionary spirit within us all. ‘Greed’ has marked the upward surge of mankind.

The world runs on individuals perusing their own separate interests. That’s greed and we runs on greed.

Actually, greed is good. Of course none of use are greedy – it’s always someone else, someone other than ourselves. But what is greed? Let me tell you that ‘greed’ is simple individuals perusing their own separate interests. The world runs on greed. And ‘greed’s’ natural child is consumerism.

Now in today's society consumerism is often portrayed to be a negative aspect of people's lives and purchasing behaviors, which inevitably leads to materialism. But, consumerism is actually good. Consumerism is right.

Consumerism has emerged as part of a historical process that has created mass markets, industrialization, and cultural attitudes that ensure that rising incomes are used to purchase things. 1

Consumerism rests on the assumption that human desires are infinitely expandable; if there are an infinite number of ways to be dissatisfied; there are boundless opportunities to create new products to meet those desires. 1

Every day companies compete by inventing a new product to satisfy consumer's need. Some of these things are very useful and make some people wonder how they would live without them. Many of these products don't have much impact on society and fade out throughout the years.

Although it has been said that money is the root of all evil, many people actually believe that they would be happier if they were wealthier. People often want more than they have now, more money, a better car, a bigger house, more shoes and cloths.

We have become lazy since our ability to obtain what we need has become so easy. Now we strive to obtain what we want. Money is all around, even here on Helium we can type our thoughts for money, everywhere you go the 21st century offers endless ways to make and earn money. With this money we can gain as many possessions as we want, we only need very little to get food and shelter, now we need more money to buy the latest gadget or toy to produce happiness. 

Many of us take up unfilling jobs in fields that were dircclty created by money and we do so in order to make more money to buy more wanted items – to buy more things. We waste a lot of our intellect in jobs that do not challenge us and for the most part do little to make a difference or contribute to society. 1

We are driven to do whatever task pays the most, so we can have the most.

Morals are artificial creations. They are attempting to make order of chaos. Morals are great – but morals are noting more than a set of social ideologies. Social ideologies are trumped by social reality. Money won’t buy you happiness, but it ‘s a damn good start.

Now here’s another does of hard reality: The economy depends on people buying stuff. If people only bought the absolute necessities, most of the country would be unemployed and unable to make enough money to buy those absolute necessities.

Consumerism increases consumption, more consumption requires more production, more production means more jobs and more income in society, and more income means more consumption. This is the cycle, which if managed properly can bring growth and prosperity to society. Consumerism is essential to our economy, but authorities should imply rules and laws to make sure that consumerism does not destroy our planet. 1

The growth of demand for consumer goods also encourages investors to put their money into production thus  helping  to  stimulate economic growth.

The Corporation
Now some would argue that corporations have a social responsibility to society at large – that by fostering consumerism (i.e. Black Friday) they’ve become a detriment to society – WRONG!

A corporation has no social responsibility. Let me repeat: A corporation has no social responsibility. We hear this all the time about business’s having a social responsibility. No they don’t. Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an non living entity - an artificial person. Business as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in a vague sense. Only people have responsibilities and corporations are not people. 2

The only function of a corporation is to conduct the business in accordance with the desires set forth by its proprietors or founders. They are not responsibly to society at all. Their desires generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both through laws and ethics. So, literally it can be said that the only responsibility a corporation has is to increase its profits – that’s it! 2

Corporations foster consumerism because they must. 70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending – without consumerism we’d slip into a recession (like now) or worse a depression in which the economy sees negative growth, unemployment reaches unimaginable levels, the sky falls in and cats and dogs start marrying each other.

“Good Greed”
My focus is on Consumerism but lets step back for a moment to examine greed and understand that not all greed is created equally. The greed that nearly brought the world economy to a screeching halt in 2008 is disgusting. The greed that led to millions of hardworking people around the world losing their jobs is not “good greed.” You must be greedy without exploiting others. 3

The problem is not that we’re not greedy enough! Sure, there are the occasional Bernie Madoffs and John Edwardses that lose themselves in their excessive desire — that will do anything to achieve their goal — but that’s not the issue most of us face. Actually our problem is that we are plagued by not caring, wanting, or being too casual in the pursuit of our own goals. 3

It is not wrong to put yourself first; it is not wrong to peruse your dreams nor is it wrong to stop turning your goals into a group decision and realize the ‘purity of vision’ is singular undertaking. Pure vision is not a democracy but rather based on a natural aristocracy of talent.

Any successful entrepreneur is greedy. They have an insatiable desire to see their product come to market. They want to see their invention in the hands of as many people as possible. They want their book to hit the New York Times bestseller list. They will do whatever it takes to achieve their goal. They will stay up later and get up earlier. 3

Success is the byproduct of greed - it is the end result or the destination.

To America working you have to keep Americans wanting.
Criticisms of the anti-consumerist movement are largely based on the perception that it leads to elitism. Ironically its critics are largely elites themselves who believe, that because of their ivory tower experiences they know what’s good for the individual. Wrong. No person should have the right to decide for others what goods are necessary for living and which aren't, or that luxuries are necessarily wasteful, and thus anti-consumerism is a precursor to central planning or a totalitarian state.

The logical outcome of the anti-consumerism movement would be a return to the dystopian nightmare that existed in Russia and Eastern Europe for much of the 20th century.

Consumerism is not some evil phantom seeking to reek havoc on society. It’s a social reality. Consumerism is the engine of capitalism. To keep America working, you have to keep Americans wanting.

All Designers are in the commercial industry. That’s the great divide between them and Artists. Ill regardless if they are helping to sell cigarettes or solar panels Designers (graphic designers, communication designers, etc) must foster consumerism for the simple fact that consumerism increases demand – demand increase jobs. Included in the ‘Jobs’ category is the role of a designer.

TV commercials, posters, viral videos, music videos, T-Shirts and other graphic apparel; sneakers, book covers, consumer products, logos – all things designed are driven by consumerism. Designers need demand. Designers need consumerism.

The truth is, we’re all greedy – not a single human being is above it. Greed, in all its forms – greed for life, greed for money, greed for love - captures the evolutionary spirit within us all.

Actually, greed is good.

Works Cited
1) The Pros and Cons of Consumerism, Maxwell Payne, 2007,, 18, November 2010

2) Greed is Good: Why You Need to Tap Into Your Inner Gordon Gekko, Robert Pagliarini, 15 Feb 2010,, 23, November 2010

3) The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, Milton Friedman, The New York Times Magazine, 13, September 1970, 23, November 2010

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

That Sick Generation.

What can I say about my homeboy Tanner. He's the funniest guy - I never get to see anymore. His creativity ( is something to be jealous of. In truth, most (if not all) of my inspiration comes not from the classes I take nor the books I'm forced to read, but rather the people I see and the peeps I know. The young generation - That sick generation.