Greed and Trust
by Marty Poehler
The Collins Dictionary defines greed as “excessive desire for wealth or power.”
Greed well describes recent events in the sub-prime mortgage market. Salesmen set up mortgages with people who had poor credit ratings. The salesmen then sold those mortgages on to others. This meant the salesmen didn’t have any risk from those mortgages. Other people sold the risky mortgages on to other companies. Everyone along the chain knew the risks -- but once they’d sold the mortgages on to others, they didn’t worry about them.
The ticking time bomb finally exploded. Many more mortgages were foreclosed than had been predicted. Thousands of people lost their homes and finance companies large and small went bankrupt. People lost jobs, credit tightened, and the American and world economy fell.
This fits our definition of greed: people sought more wealth or power than they needed. People who act greedily look out for themselves and their friends. They aren’t concerned how their actions affect others. Greed is self-centered. It destroys lives.
Another word we should look at is trust. The dictionary defines trust as “reliance on and confidence in the truth, worth, and reliability of a person or thing; faith.”
The automakers General Motors, Ford & Chrysler trusted the United Auto Workers Union when they made agreements with them last year on health care. In those agreements the carmakers shifted most of the responsibility for workers’ health plans to the union. This gave the Big Three a far better chance at competing with the carmakers Toyota and Honda -- who aren’t saddled with such huge health care expenses. The agreement also made many of the union workers’ jobs more secure.
People acting greedily in a relationship with others take and “empty” as many benefits as they can for themselves. There are often big winners -- and big losers. A verse in the Bible says, “ In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 1
This expresses what many greedy people think. They believe life is a grind —you have to take all you can get — no matter who you have to roll over to do it. They believe the saying (thinking it’s in the Bible, though it isn’t): “God helps those who help themselves.”
People acting with trust “fill up” a situation and bring out potential benefits. Both sides come out winners in a trust relationship. People who come to an agreement and trust each other create something. In a Bible verse God commands man to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” 2
People who trust others agree with this. They think there are enough benefits for everyone. They believe they can discover them. These views are in harmony with there being a God who supplies every need of theirs according to His riches in glory.
A question to ask yourself is, “How will I live -- by greed, coercing others to accept my will because I’m stronger than they are? Or building trust with others, so we can freely agree on things that benefit both of us?”
Greed destroys overall value and life from the world. Trust creates value and increases life in the world. You and I are people with consciences and are workers, consumers, and citizens. We make moral choices every day. As we think about and make decisions, we fashion and shape the nature of the world – in the one way or the other.
The people in Asia and Africa are hungry to make their mark on the world’s economy. Their model is the successful west -- largely powered by greed and not by trust. By our actions, you and I can show people in the developing world of Asia and Africa the better choice.
1. The Bible. Genesis 3:19
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