Greed is a desire to acquire or horde wealth, possessions, or power beyond normal reason. A drive to acquire possessions and status, to a certain degree, is a part of human nature. Greed is when this desire becomes unduly strong and takes precedence over moral considerations such as concern for others. Various disciplines such as ethics or religious studies weigh the destructive aspects of greed.
In Christian tradition, greed (often called avarice in this context) is considered to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins. When taken to mean an excessive desire for money, greed is specifically condemned by St Paul in the Bible: "Love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" 1Timothy 6:10 .
Famous examples of greed include the mythical King Midas, who foolishly wished that everything he touched would turn to gold, and the bankers whose pursuit of short-term profit together with home owners who borrowed more than they could afford in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008 in Europe and the US.
Union greed remains one of the biggest problems, as it undermines individual corporations and whole industries in the face of competition. Demanding more than the going rate puts long-term company and industry growth at risk. In Spain 2/3 of the workforce hog the jobs leaving the remaining 1/3 scrounging for work when they can get it—Spain has 25% unemployment overall and 50% for those under 25 years old (June 2012). In Italy it takes a court order to fire an employee, making hiring risky—many young Italians have to leave the country to begin their careers. In the USA, municipal unions gain pensions largely unavailable in the private sector. California is the result.
German unions, on the other hand, work with management to keep the company fiscally sound and unemployment down. Not all American unions are greedy. Some realize their future and their children's future is at stake.
Capitalism has been criticized for encouraging greediness. However, it has been argued that greediness is not inherent to capitalism, and only the sinful and selfish utilize the capitalist system to feed their greed.
When greed is motivated by envy it is covetousness, not primarily to possess something but to enjoy taking it away and gloat over having it in order to destroy the happiness of another as revenge for the fact that the other is happy. The pleasure is not in possessing but in the revenge of depriving and holding.
- Andersen, Kerbey. "Bible, Economics and Capitalism." Probe Ministries. http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4218179/k.30EF/Bible_Economics_and_Capitalism.htm