Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Reruns: Greed is Not Good

(original post-date: February 9, 2011)

I recently had lunch with a delightful friend who we’ll call Anne, and – as usual – our conversation traveled all over the map. We meet for lunch about once every six weeks or so, and invariably, just around the time we are settling the check, one of us will look at her watch and say, “My God, would you look at the time?”

But before we got to that pre-parting rhetorical question, Anne had shared with me the details of her husband’s recent experience as a forward-thinking landscape architect who, in my opinion, is probably a genius.

I’ll get to that in a minute (his experience, I mean).

First, though – since this post is essentially about money – I should share the context of my perspective.

I feel no draw to money.

I am not driven by it. I don’t crave it. I don’t make decisions based on it. And I just think it’s grossly overrated.

Which brings me to my own personal definition: Money is something other people need for me to have.

I’m not recommending this definition on anyone, and frankly, there are months when my relationship with money puts me in the “fear place” for a few too many days, but… read it and weep, that’s just me.

Now, to Anne’s husband’s story…

I’m going to give the cliff notes here, because whenever terms like “venture capitalists” or “stock options” are introduced into a story, I pretty much start hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. (As in, “WAH. WAH. WAH?”) But I got the gist of the story, and the gist is this:

Anne’s husband created a company, and within that company, he combined his skills as a landscape architect with his appreciation for our planet’s precarious balance. His passions led to patents, and as his creations generated income, he grew a staff. A staff that he respected and hoped would feel nurtured.

Anne’s husband wisely knew that he did not want to be CEO of said company, so a CEO was hired.

As venture capitalists came forth, the CEO recommended that insiders reduce their stock values. And Anne’s husband’s stock values always got reduced the most.

The longer the CEO was there, the more he had his way, and the less the company resembled the vision of Anne’s husband. Ultimately, Anne’s husband realized that the change was irreversible, and – to keep from becoming physically knotted into perpetuity – he moved on (still holding stocks).

Recently, the company that Anne’s husband created was sold, and Anne’s husband received his cut, as per his reduced stock values. His cut was impressive, but it was about one-tenth of what he should have received. To this day, he can drive through neighborhoods, pointing out the environmentally positive impact of his inventions. But his cut… not so big.

And that’s the story (or at least, that’s the story I came away with).

I also came away from this story with a question: should GREED be classified as a mental illness?

In anticipation of exploring this theory, I did some googling, and here’s what The Free Dictionary provides for the definition of mental illness: Any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma.

For me, the key word there is “normal,” so let’s run with that for a moment…

I love it, The Free Dictionary includes, as the first definition of “normal” (as a noun): Something normal …HAH! (Thanks for the clarification there!)

Okay, so let’s back up to the definitions of “normal” as an adjective, since that’s the appropriate context. Definition #1: Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical

See? There’s that “norm” again.

This brings me to the conclusion that no one actually knows what is “normal” (and, frankly, that works for me), but I still think that greed is a mental illness.

Greed is anti-social, obsessive, and self-serving.

Greed doesn’t care who gets hurt.

Greed is narcissistic.

Greed is NOT good.

Hmm… with all the pharmaceuticals out there, available to offset this or that mental malady, do you think they’ll develop one to cure (or at least reduce the manifestations of) greed?

I doubt it.

Because the pharmaceutical companies are right there among the greedy.

I’m so glad I don’t care about money, and I truly pity the folks who put it at the top of their lists.

They’re missing the magic and grace of life.

They’re missing my normal.


Anonymous said...

Well, as my eldest daughter once said to me, "Mummy, I'm so glad you aren't 'normal' like my friends' parents. you're great!" Nope, no idea what normal is :-) Top of my list is happiness. Seems to me that if one is happy, then that is that. Money helps but I am of the opinion that something always turns up and having too much money often brings the opposite of happiness :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I said happiness rather than health because if one is happy then presumably health is ok or at least of no concern :-)

Sioux said...

I agree with you, Katie. I picked a profession that--if you counted up the hours I put in--I could make more money at the slurpee machine at Walmart. (AND I could eat all the left-over hot dogs at the end of the night!)

Money ain't all it's cracked up to be.

cj Schlottman said...

I have had lots of money, and I have been very poor. I know from personal experience that money does not equate with happiness. The only thing money can do is make life a little easier.

I love this post!


Reviewer11 said...

There ya go--yes, I so agree with you about greed! And there seems to be a lot of it in this world especially with politicians.

Green Monkey said...

we are simpatico!

I cater to the rich and famous. Money, objects and power fuels them. simply and honestly put... I provide them with a false sense of security. they insulate themselves from those who have less than them. they fear everyone is out to get them, take advantage of them, use them. its a horrible way to live. for whatever reason, I have never been impressed with money. i live simply.

all that being said, my world has been turned upside down - husband out of work, must pay for insurance out of pocket, a mountain of medical bills....

so far, I'm not focused on the lack of money (which is even more challenging i think).

as always, love reading you Katie! love the way your mind clicks.

Jayne Martin said...

I've had money and I've been broke. Having money is better, but I would never want it at the expense of someone else or the society as a whole. What we have today are not only greedy bastards, but sociopathic greedy bastards.