I really like this video of Milton Friedman on the Phil Donahue show. He takes his host to task on the question of greed.
I have struggled in the past trying to reconcile capitalism and greed. The corporate greed and crony capitalism that has become increasingly prevalent in the market over the past 10-20 years or so is very concerning. Capitalism, as a system, is being denigrated by the examples of corrupt players in the game. I grant that one of the strengths of capitalism is the liberty one has to operate within the system and that with liberty comes the risk of abuse. The increasingly unchecked personal ambitions, with disregard to the corporation or those working in it, reflect an increasingly depraved morality not just in the business world, but the western world in general.
Having said that and having lived in a communist country, I can attest that greed is not unique to our economy and culture. Its manifestation may be subdued by authoritarian rule in communist regimes and exaggerated in liberal democracies, but the underlying lusts of the heart which drive us to greed in the first place are the same no matter where we go.
There is something deeper at the heart of the problem and that is our own sinful nature. The Bible tells us that the disobedience by the first couple turned us away from God and as the descendants of the first sinners, we have inherited this propensity to want to be our own gods and the rulers of our own destinies. In the post-modern world, we try to ignore the “rules” of the game, by setting out our own, false parameters. Regrettably, this has only exacerbated the problem. Whether you believe in God or nature as the ultimate creator and ruler, we live by a set of rules and when we break those rules, we should expect consequences.