Capitalism And The Notion Of Greed Is There Any Validity?

Thu, 21 Jan 2016 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

The concept of capitalism, as we know it, has been in existence for circa two and a half centuries. On the other hand, human presence on this celestial body we call home, depending on which anthropological theory you subscribe to, has been, at least, for millennia. However, capitalism has become the whipping boy of the so called socialists and the progressives in our midst for all the evils of the world. For all the vices of humanity, which capitalism is made to carry the blame none come as laughable and baseless as greed.

The word greed invokes a lot of visceral atavistic revulsion, which the very people who have the skills to animate it are the biggest culprits. If they are not, then I will suggest to them that their greed is held in check, because they have lame paws. Mention the word greed in a cocktail party and you are guaranteed an inexhaustible topic of discussion for the period of the fiesta. For the intellectuals, their loathing of their favourite target practice – the greedy capitalist bastard – borders on lunacy. Of all the brouhaha that this word generates it is nothing, but a smoke screen of hypocrisy by its purveyors. A serious dialectical approach will render it meaningless. If we should really take the pain to analyse it dispassionately it will be made obvious that we are all greedy one way or the other. In essence, the word becomes literally an eviscerated diction. For those who will disagree with me, I think they can try a more lethal word – evil. The question is whether they will have the guts to describe an industrialist who is able to create wealth for himself and the benefit of his workers as evil is my million dollar question.

I wouldn’t have attempted to discuss this word if not because of the socialist fraternity in our country by the name Nkrumahist, who want to paint those of us who believe in the virtue of capitalism as greedy and most ridiculously – selfish. Most of these bleeding hearts socialist lack the common sense to fathom that they skate on thin ice while launching poisonous attacks on their adversaries.

To dissect the word effectively a working definition is required. A sophisticated definition renders it as: excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. A more down to earth gives it as a selfish desire to have more of something (especially money). I am going to dwell on money – the bogeyman of greed – which inherently translates into options and choices in our lives. Now, come to think of it who wouldn’t want more choices or options in life? It all comes down to the concept of degree, but who has the incredible arrogance to determine what is acceptable for someone. They say someone’s riches is another person’s dearth.

A person who sells drug with the help of firearms to mark his territory, and enforces payments is greedy for money. However, the same word is used to describe an industrialist who produces a genuine product like a cancer drug that cures patients – an immeasurable goodness – is also perceived as greedy if he fixes the price of his drug at a level that is not acceptable to the public, especially the so called political economists who ignore the laws of economics. Of course, it lays bare the dearth of their intellectualism, which makes me question whether they are able to grasp the economics of the drug industry.

A butcher takes his beef to the market and he charges a higher price for the prime fillets and sirloin steaks while he charges close to nothing for the cow feet. It is the demand that is placed on the sirloin steaks and prime fillets that make them expensive. All things being equal, the butcher’s greed for money should also extend to the cow feet.

The prices of houses in the inner city where there are a lot of economic activities are very high. Prices of beach houses compared to those in the hinterland are unimaginable, for example, in places like California. One economist argued whether smog is an antidote to greed, because farther from the coast the prices of houses, even spacious and palatial ones, begin to go down. The people who misuse the word, especially the so called self-proclaimed intellectuals, fail to comprehend the underlying dynamics of the housing industry.

So far, I have dealt with measurable tangibles, however, there are intangibles in our lives, which takes more precedence than we give credit to. Some people will kill for what they believe. For example, some religious fanatics will not countenance the denigration of their faith. They will have you for dinner if you take a swipe at their faith.

There are billions of people on the planet who wouldn’t mind to enjoy the adulation accorded Usain Bolt. He won the 2008 Olympic 100 metre race in Beijing and again 2012 in London. I don’t think he has given up the quest for a third Olympic title. Sprinters like Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay etc., also want a piece of the action. In that sense Bolt is greedy for fame, because he wants that third title so long as his body can offer him that luxury. The question is how many people will be serious and presumptuous to label him as such. Equally important is the fact that there are hundreds of millions who want to see him on that pedestal in Rio.

On a very serious note, we have to come to terms with the fact that some people place emphasis on different things in life. Some people love money, and that drive can cause untold hardship for others. The love of some people for multiple sexual partners is real. As benign as the latter may be, it can cause a lot of damage to families including children. There are those who love the cultivation of their brains to the exclusion of all other things. For example, Isaac Newton never had any intimate relationships. There are those who are even drawn to the very things that will kill them – alcoholics, drug addicts etc. There are even people who are addicted to the human adrenalin – can we called it greed for excitement, because it is excessive and rapacious appetite for something, which sometimes leads to their death.

Lenin died quite early in office, therefore, I cannot definitively place him in the category of leaders with ravenous appetite for power. On the other hand, let’s look at Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hugo Chavez and our own Kwame Nkrumah who had to be booted out of office. What is the difference between that and greed for money? Is it not greed for power? Everybody has got his emphasis, some love money, others love to fry their liver or inject their body with poisonous substances. Is it not greed to prolong or sustain ecstatic joy, because it is relatively impossible to maintain that level of happiness without drug? Were Mao and his kind not greedy for power? Sadistic power drunk people who loved and enjoy the murder of their own citizens in the millions, i.e. their own kind, which twisted socialist like some people I know justify, because it is for the good of the majority. They are equally greedy for murder to achieve their twisted vision. Anybody who thinks that killing others for the good of the many should not be deemed any different from the devil. Anytime you encounter them, a new calibration of your trajectory is required, because they are dangerous and capable of murder.

The so called rubber barons of America who were accused of greedy for money happened to be the benefactors of some of the most enduring academic institutions and public foundation in America. Strangely, those institutions have been turned into bastions of leftist hotbeds attracting lunatic academics from all over world who serve as fifth columns destroying American capitalism by default. They indoctrinate impressionable young students who lack the intellectual skills to neutralise their deadly poison.

Now, what is the difference between the naked self-interests of a Soviet tractor driver whose wages is base on the acreage he ploughs, and as a result adjust his behaviour to maximise his earnings? What used to happen in Soviet Russian farms was even cynical. When a tractor driver begins to plough vast expanse of field, knowing that his work could be easily monitored from the edges, as a result, he does a good job at the fringes. However, as he gets to the middle of the field where it is difficult to check his work he raises the plough and race the tractor to cover more area thereby earning him more salary. What is the difference between this greed and their favourite greedy capitalist cash nexus these numbskulls write about?

I find it very difficult to comprehend those who make so much noise about greed. They talk in lofty tones as if they will do otherwise when fortunes are reversed. The question they have to honestly answer is will they take less wages than they get paid now? And this is mainly directed to the ivory tower tenured professors who make the most noise on this subject. If not, then they fall into the same category. It is a matter of degree and what you think is acceptable to you might not be acceptable to someone else. And who think he is righteous enough to determine what is acceptable when it come to wealth. A £50,000 in London can be deemed as handsome and respectable annual income. But what if you are hit by a medical condition, which the medication is not provided on the NHS that will cost you in excess of £100,000 will that £50,000 income be acceptable to you? Per this scenario your needs make you greedy.

There are so many countervailing institutions in capitalism to keep the greed of the market place in check if the powerful arm of the government will allow it to work. For example, an industrialist whose greed for profit decides not to care about the atmosphere and the water bodies around him will find himself in court if the river he pollutes belongs to an entrepreneur who lives on tourism.

In America, the oil giants have always been accused of greed i.e. price gouging since oil became indispensable in the 70s. In recent times oil prices have come down drastically. We cannot dodge this begging question whether the oil giants have lost their appetite to fleece their unsuspecting consumers or their greed for money has gone into hibernation? The fact is if you are greedy you are for life. Greed does not take a vacation. So these lunatics will have to know that it has got to do with demand and supply. Yet, these self-important leftist commentators who don’t have any incline of human praxeology keep throwing these statements around every time and their ilks believe them. I bet the Wall Street’s appetite to swindle Americans with exorbitant oil prices has taken a holiday. Oil has now hit less than $30 a barrel; it is only our cruel socialist leaders in Ghana who are fleecing their citizens of the little they have through their incompetence, corruption and blatant stealing. Remember the ex-transport miniter?

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina