Many people are upset about the mess and disruption caused by the Occupy protesters. Some counter by saying that the preservation of freedom and democracy is often messy and disruptive, and this is true enough.
The more immediate point is that the OWS protesters are saying the same thing, albeit less coherently, as many prominent economists and most religious leaders: Greed is a vice, not a virtue. We cannot build a stable, secure, prosperous economy or society on a foundation of greed and corruption. The longer we ignore this fact, the longer the recession will drag on, all-the-while the banksters and their cronies collect fat bonuses.
While the OWS protesters may be driven out, the problem remains: Our economy and even our society’s morality at the upper levels is founded on the vice of greed. (I speak primarily of the US economy; other countries have not elevated greed to such a high level and are thus more stable.)
Greed is not good. Taking greed as a primary virtue, as the ideology of libertarianism (think Ayn Rand) and the elites of the United States have done, means bad things will happen, and unfortunately not just to the greedy. If greed is a virtue, then selflessness clearly can not be, as it is in direct conflict. To be greedy means to be selfish, and greed knows no bounds; there is no ‘enough’ for a greedy man.
The greedy don’t want to contribute to society, they want to line their own pockets. They don’t necessarily want to steal from you and me for themselves, but ultimately they must to feed their greed. Greed, like all vices, is addictive; there is no satiation point, no enough. Like any addict, when the easy fix runs out, they must take from whoever and wherever they can.
Picture the heroin addict: perhaps at first he can support his habit from his income, but soon the need for a fix destroys his ability to work and he must rely on theft to feed his addiction. Late-stage addicts will lie to and steal from anyone – friends, family, gullible good Samaritans.
There is not much difference in this way between a drug addict and a money addict. Bernie Madoff ripped off those close to him even though he already had billions. Greedy bankers will – just about did – destroy the economy for their fix, even though many were fantastically rich already.
So while you may mock the OWS protesters, remember this: An economy built on greed will collapse, probably viciously. And while many of the greedy will escape with their billions to safer places, you and I will be stuck here in the smoking ruins of a once vibrant economy. If the Occupy Wall Street does not accomplish its goal of rooting out greed, our future is bleak indeed.