Never missing a trick in order to boost circulation, the popular press has recently taken great pleasure in exposing the gratuitous personal spending of workers in the nation’s financial sector. The recent headline below highlights the growing gulf between the majority who are getting by....just, and the excessive conspicuous consumption of the super rich.
‘We'll have the £26 three-course saver meal and two £5,500 bottles of wine: City workers rack up £18,000 bill on a spot of lunch at steakhouse.
· Finished off the meal with a round of large cognacs coming in at £200 a shot
· Smoked nearly £300 worth of Cohiba cigars after their lunch’
At a time of austerity and cuts in welfare spending, such headlines serve to stoke the growing resentment that most ordinary people are beginning to feel towards bankers, financiers and the obscenely rich and powerful.
In retrospect, this was not always the case. Post war Britain seemed to be moving towards a gentler more egalitarian society with the establishment of the NHS and the welfare state. Then came the 1980s and a new harsher economic and social mantra....’greed is good !!!!!’.
Greed is the compelling desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of value with the intention to keep it for one's self, far beyond the what is required for basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.
In 1987 Oliver Stone made the film Wall Street and its infamous lead character, Gordon Gekko became a household name. The "greed is good" mentality brought the Stock Market Crash in 1987 and played a part in global recession of the early 1990s. Greed is the reason behind the meltdown of the corporate bond market and the ensuing banking crisis of 2008 for which we are all still suffering.
The Bible has a lot to say about wealth and greed. When a rich young man asked Jesus what he should do to get eternal life, he was devastated by his answer.....”If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me”. Jesus later made clear the incompatability with wealth and entry to the kingdom of heaven when he said, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’.
Generosity is the opposite of greed. Its practice mitigates against the corrosive effects of greed. The following quote from blogger Rose Dawson highlights the need for generosity.
‘Israel's Jordan River is a source of life as it flows into the Sea of Galilee and then into the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee generously irrigates the land as well as providing abundant fishing resources. By contrast, the Dead Sea has no outlet. It greedily robs the region of moisture, and its water is undrinkable. Greed causes our lives to also become foul before God. But a life that flows abundantly shares all the God has given us. When we give, we truly prosper and are refreshed’.
Well said Rose....I’ll drink to that !