“Is GREED good?”The notorious question presented to us by the fictional yet infamous Gordon Gekko. Although we know Gordon Gekko as the villainous, self-indulging narcissist, his theory of “Greed is good” is in fact true, sort of. In arguably Gekko’s most memorable quote he states; “Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.”
The true essence of this quote, although boisterous and highly controversial, is feasible. Greed when contained and used competently can be a practical commodity. It is greed that fueled the Westward Expansion and the California Gold rush. From the years 1848-1855 300,000 Americans saw ample opportunity to “strike gold” (literally) and upend their lives and move west. If those “forty-niners” didn’t possess greed for gold, the state of California would certainly not be the state it is today. Means of transportation such as steamships and trans-continental railroads expanded and as a result towns literally developed over night. In 1846, San Francisco had a population of 200, by 852 the population inflated to 36,000.
The ideology of Free Market Capitalism is an exemplary illustration of greed being good. We are our own competition, we dictate how far we want to go in life and how much we want to make. (Ideally) Our nation prides itself in our Capitalistic values and the idea that our potential for success is limitless. We are encouraged to start our own businesses, to work hard and make excess amounts of money if we so desire. It is greed that inspires us to work hard and gives us the utmost sense of jubilation when we see 7 digit numbers in our bank accounts. Greed when in it’s pure from is one of the main reasons for not only our personal success but for the success of the United States.
This idea of greed being good is highly controversial, as there are a surfeit amount of examples I can use to show greed’s catastrophic power. However, if greed can be harnessed into its pure form and used proactively, well I can’t help but agree with Mr. Gordon Gekko’s infamous quote “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”