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Greed Greed is a selfish desire for more than one needs or deserves. Greed can make honest men murderers. It has made countries with rich valuable resources into the poorest countries in the world. We are taught it is bad and not to practice it. But consider a world without greed, where everyone is as sharing as Mother Theresa was. The progress of humankind would be at a standstill. Greed has given our society faster travel, better service, more convenience, and most importantly, progress. Greed has created thousands of billionaires and millions of millionaires. But why is greed associated with evil? In their day, most capitalists like Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller were depicted as pure evil. Vanderbilt stole from the poor. Rockefeller was a snake. But the name-calling did not come from the consumers; it was the competing businesses that complained. The newspapers expanded on these comments, calling them "robber barons." These are inaccurate terms for these businessmen. They were not barons because they all started penniless and they were not robbers because they did not take it from anyone else. Vanderbilt got rich by making travel and shipping faster, cheaper, and more luxurious. He built bigger, faster, and more efficient ships. He served food on his ships, which the customers liked and he lowered his costs. He lowered the New York to Hartford fare from $8 to $1. Rockefeller made his fortunes selling oil. He also lowered his costs, making fuel affordable for the working-class people. The working-class people, who use to go to bed after sunset, could now afford fuel for their lanterns. The people, who worked an average 10-12 hours a day, could now have a private and social life. The consumers were happy, the workers were happy, and they were happy. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft Corporation is another example of a greedy person. He is the richest man in the world with about $40 billion and he continues to pursue more wealth. Just because he has $40 billion does not mean the rest of the world lost $40 billion, he created more wealth for the rest of the world. His software created new ways of saving time and money and created thousands of new jobs. Bill Gates got rich by persuading people to buy his product. His motive may have been greed, but to achieve that, he had to give us what we wanted.
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In general, many businesses donate a percent of its wealth to charity. People not only want but also expect those businesses to donate their money away. Vanderbilt gave one percent of his money away to start Vanderbilt University. Ted Turner donated $1 billion to the United Nations. But why do people think that giving away money is better than making money? Giving away money is much easier than building a new business. Building a new business creates new jobs for people, giving someone the means to support himself.
When you give money away, it does not help them become more self-sufficient. Charity does not always make big impacts, as people believe they do. For example, who changed the world more, Micheal Milken or Mother Teresa? Milken pioneered a new way for companies to raise money, creating tens of thousands of new jobs. He saved Mattel, the toy maker, by his junk bonds. It is now the world's biggest toy company. His bonds rescued TWA, Revlon, and many other companies. Millions of people now joy cheaper phone calls because he funded the phone company, MCI. His bonds made CNN and other Turner companies possible. On the other hand, Mother Teresa donated every penny to charity and helped tens of thousands of people in slums of Third-World countries. She spent her life doing charity work for the poor. Her deeds continue after her death; four thousand sisters now continue what she begun. Without a doubt, people would say Mother Teresa did more for the world. But their judgements are blinded by the fact that they are looking at their motives. Michael Milken didn't suffer; he didn't go into the slums. Mother Teresa went into the slums and she suffered. Milken persuaded wealth because of greed and Mother Teresa did charity work in the name of Christianity. People tend to believe charity work is nobler than making money. Greed isn't a nice thing or a noble thing. Unrestrained greed would mean theft, fighting, and taking by force. But as long as theft is illegal, as long as we have to trade with each other to get what we want, greed is a productive force. So the next time someone tells you you're greedy, remind them that greed helped build civilization. Is that so bad?