The Spectacle Blog

Wealth and Greed

By on 4.25.06 | 12:38PM

Two more careful thinkers have corrected me on my post on the morality of incredibly large paychecks. John Tabin had me rethinking that point, and a college buddy clinched it in this email just now:

from a moral point of view, selfishness is sinful, as is the accumulation of wealth for its own sake, as an end in itself. However, dollar amounts are meaningless in a moral context. prices and wages represent information, and the shareholders of exxon mobil (who spent years and hundreds of millions of their own money, without any guarantees of making it back) are letting it be known, in concrete terms, that they value the CEO's particular work in making them a profit.

this pandering to the consumer is pretty absurd. the market is providing consumers with information, which is that oil is increasingly scare, and they should adjust their decision-making accordingly. I can't believe Dems reaction to this in particular - they should be thrilled that oil is more expensive, it will force consumers and firms to look at alternative sources of energy...

They're right. The practical problem with calling a $400 million retirement package greedy is, where do you pin down the greediness? At $1 million? $10 million? $100 million? This isn't just sophistry. The theoretical problem is that if someone made $400 million and donated 50% (after taxes... the federal government must take its cut), or even 90%, would it still be greedy? Absolutely not. Take the Cheneys: out of an adjusted gross income of $8.82 million, they donated $6.87 million to charity.

Raking in that paycheck has no moral value. Money isn't the root of all evil, but rather the love of it.

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