Sunday, February 11, 2007

If I want the whole pie for myself, is that greed?

Someone wise told me long ago that no human trait of itself is either good or bad. It also is in the eyes of the beholder. Attila the Hun was really proud of himself.

Take stubborn, for instance. People who are stubborn are tenacious. They hold on. They usually aren't quitters. They also can be a pain in the posterior and bull-headed, but that's beside the point. Stubborn is a good survival trait.

Politeness can be underdone or overdone...but it sure makes for smooth interactions when someone has a lot of it. My mother was like that. If she started getting angry enough to say "hell's bells", we all knew to dive for cover.

Love? There's a reason "Women Who Love Too Much" was a best seller. I've known Men Who Love Too Much, too. When you see these people regularly because they are friends, family or co-workers, it's like having a permanent train wreck around all the time. I meet many good and loving parents--my own grandkids have two of 'em--but for 13 years, I worked with parents who would wail, "I love my kids, " when they didn't feed them regularly , nurture them, wash their clothes or bandage their cuts. I had to explain to these people that emotions without actions are just words.

Now let's talk about greed. I thought the 1980s were the "Me" decade, but lately, I am astonished at the sheer chutzpah of marketers trying to sell me shlockier shlock at increased prices. I am told that by putting two olives less in every jar, the manufacturer has increased product and profits without spending an additional cent. That's not necessarily greed. But I was thinking about this after opening my diminished bottle of olives to add same to my can of a formerly well thought of brand of tuna only to find the can was half water. I love canned tuna but I won't buy that brand again. The grocery I like because it is small and friendly will have to change, too, because they want $3.61 for a large can of albacore chunk tuna. I guess I'm talking about free enterprise, and I guess it's working, because I am changing direction. Except why are all the lemmings around me continuing to go along with this drek? The only good thing I can see about the tuna can half full of water is that because we are polluting the oceans, recommended servings of tuna are supposed to be no more than twice a week, and that sorry can won't produce enough tuna for even two sandwiches. Somehow, I don't think the diminished amount of product is out of concern for my health.

The greed thing, though, comes to my attention because of what seems to me the growing popularity of a home sales paradigm with multi layers. It's been around for years, but lately it seems to be gaining momentum. X sells me some vitamins. Good vitamins, all right, and also expensive. X suggests that I sign on as a distributor, which will lessen my cost slightly , and then if I sell to some others, X will get so much of a percentage of my sale. If X develops several distributors, then X has a steady line of gravy coming in along with the meat from X's own sales. I tried the vitamins, decided they were too expensive, and discontinued. I discovered X and her husband, Y, probably put 80 or more hours a week into this work. They were ALWAYS working. They were really nice people, but for them, a world formerly full of ordinary people has become simply a world of people they have already sold to and people they want to sell to. That includes anyplace they go, probably including upscale, prosperous, large churches. Sell, sell, sell. It reminds me a lot of an addiction. Have to chase that cash. Have to make more and make it faster. Have to.


Someone I know trained for one of these companies recently and was upset when I had no contacts for him. That was two weeks ago. This last week, a good friend invited me to a presentation for an energy company she says will make its first billion faster than Walmart or Google. I told her she forgot to mention Enron. She is actually reasonable about the contacts and hasn't asked for any. Good. Told her that, too. It just seems to me that if I know you are on the Do Not Call list, it is logical that I will not give your name out to someone who wants to sell you something. Since I feel that way, I'd be a horrible salesperson for the product. I'll butt into your life with all sorts of questions about you, possibly to write something I can sell. But I don't know how to interrupt the privacy of your day to ask you to give me money in exchange for something you may not want. Then again, I was the only kid in my troop who couldn't sell Girl Scout cookies.

To me greed is when you want me to pay more than I think is a fair amount for what I get. ( I bought that can of tuna on sale, and I still feel gypped.) Greed goes bipolar when I say no and you have a tantrum about it and carry on, of which I see more and more.

To answer my own topic title, is it greedy not to share my whole pie? No, but I think it's foolish. I can't even eat the whole thing except over several days, by which time it is stale. Hmmm. Is it greedy if I eat as much of the fresh pie as I can and them dump a piece of the stale stuff on you to get rid of it? Yes, I think so....kind of like dumping my ugly or wornout discards in the missionary box so that I have closet room for some nifty new clothes.

Needless to say, I have some savings. Needless to say, I am not well-to-do by a long shot. When I put on the dog, it likely means I added black beans instead of pinto. Somewhere about 30 years ago, a little light went off, and I figured out I didn't want to Get Ahead. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. That's pretty much what I've done. It's been a pretty good life. Terrifyingly sparse, at times, but overall good.

I enjoy people who enjoy money--if you have a pool, I can come over for a swim, and you do the maintenance. A lot of money usually is high maintenance. No time to sit on the porch and watch the sun set for a couple of hours over the mountains. That's purely foolish.

1 comment:

Matt G said...

But then again, they've got mountains to ignore. They're doing better'n us...

It's all about making the choices of how your life will go.

And my $.33 can of Chicken Of The Sea that I'm eating right now was pretty full of meat-- I got a lucky case.