2009 – National 3rd Place Award Winner:                                           

Si Heon Ji , Alexandria, Virginia.

Greed or Giving: Which has a Greater Impact on Society ?

Between greed and giving, greed has a greater impact on the society. Greed has influenced society in many different ways throughout history, and it continues to drive society today. Irrelevant of its moral implications, greed is clearly more influential.

Before the impact of greed is compared, it must be defined. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, greed is “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.” The definition begs another question – what is actually needed? The four universal bare necessities of life are water, food, shelter, and clothing. Thus, the universal definition of greed is seeking anything beyond required amount of those necessities for survival.

Greed is an essential component of self-interest; self-interest encompasses seeking both the necessities and anything else one desires. Thus, a qualified form of self-interest, the one which seeks things outside of the bare necessities, is greed.
Karl Marx writes that society is built upon the foundation of an economic base, controlled by the dominant economic class. Also, upon that economic base, the superstructure (culture, ideas) of the society is built. Thus, he concludes that the ideas of a society are not really derived from what is real, but what the dominant class believes.

Dominant class is formed by greed; by seizing power beyond one’s need for survival, one becomes part of the dominant class. As such, since greed creates the dominant class that shapes society, it has a greater impact on society than giving. The capitalist system is an example of Marx’s idea. He has determined the capitalists are the dominant economic class today, and capitalists, by definition, are individuals who’re driven by self-interest, or greed.

The impact of greed can be compared by observing its magnitude. Although money is not a comprehensive standard, it also supports that greed is more influential. Money has influence on society – it is a unit of trade, and its uses are infinite. According to the economic theory of Money-Creation, investment and savings, both made by greed, create more wealth than donations and other giving of money. Because it creates more money than donations, greed has more impact on society.

Regardless of the morality of greed, few would disagree that greed is more influential on the society than giving. Greed is a qualified form of self-interest that has formed the capitalist class that shapes our society today. By means of frequency and statistics, greed also stands above giving in influence. Greed may be good, or greed may be bad; regardless, greed matters.





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