Ron Rosenbaum

Thoughts on "The Culture of Greed"

That was a phrase Obama used some time ago, long before the culture of greed threatened the imminent destruction of the economy. We are now learning what it means in practice that market capitalism is “the worst system in the world except all the others”. I’ve never been able to understand how conservatives reconcile belief in “values” with their exaltation of the amoral values of “the market”.

At least on this point history seems to be behind Balzac when he wrote “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” And if it’s not a crime it’s a contemptible materialism. Conservatives are supposed to be anti-materialist; after all, marxism is materialism. And yet materialism is contemptible as a way of viewing and living life–and the very heart of the market system.

Perhaps its time for both parties and their supporters to stop for a moment and re consider their values. Exessive wealth is not a sign of health, it’s a sign of sickness and disgrace. After you’ve set up your children’s trust funds (fair enough), excessive wealth should not be illegal, but it should be shameful when a billion people on earth live in the daily torment of near stavation.

I think this is what Obama meant by “the culture of greed”, the way we actually admire and celebrate the “values” of the rich which are now so repellantly on parade.