The other night, I was running in the university gym, and on one of the television screens above my head, CNN was running some segment that had something to do with Wall Street and the stock market plunging, and they kept cutting to different business-y looking people, who were obviously saying all kinds of stuff.  I didn’t have earphones in, so I couldn’t hear what was being said, but it wasn’t hard to tell it was all about what’s happening with the American economy.  What struck me, though, was the banner at the bottom of the screen.  You know, the one that is the headline?  It said, “Is Greed Bad?” 

I have been perplexed, or baffled, or confused–something–since that evening.  I keep thinking about that headline.  Is Greed Bad?  

For me the answer isn’t a hard one.  What confused me was it being asked at all.  I know it’s just CNN, and you know, news people are always writing somewhat silly headlines all the time, to make things sound, I don’t know, nuanced maybe, or freighted with meaning or importance.  But this question?  Is it really something that Americans are confused about to the extent that it becomes a serious question?  Yes, I think so, and there is a lot of evidence of that historically, not just in the past eight years or so.  I wish it were the kind of thing that wasn’t so confusing to people, though.  I keep thinking some of it must have to do with not being able to recognize what greed even looks like.







5 responses to “Perplexed”

  1. Karen Avatar

    I think it must be one of those things where it’s hard to get perspective because we’re soaking in it. Get any distance from greed at all and the answer becomes clear.

  2. Christopher Avatar

    Probably a riff on “Greed is good,” right? Check out this (annoyingly ugly) page on the quote at American Rhetoric.

  3. Jeff Avatar

    You must have managed to stay in the few corners of the internet not infested with Randians/Objectivists. Lucky you. I’m unfortunately not surprised by this question. If this post somehow got Dugg or Reddited up, you’d be flooded with responses explaining that greed is the only good.

  4. Tristan Avatar

    I too, like you, am surprised at the question but then again I’m surprised by most of the so called “news shows” and what passes as journalism. We tend to accept “schlock.”

  5. lucy Avatar

    Yep. It shouldn’t be a confusing question, but it is. I always get so annoyed with discussions of morality that focus only on sex when (as we can see) the immorality of greed is damaging and far-reaching in ways that perceived sexual immorality doesn’t even begin to rival. Are we truly, as a nation, starting to question whether extoling greed and excess as vituous signs of success is perhaps not quite it? Right now we are, but right now, people are scared.

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