Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Greed versus Ambition

A commenter named Kurt linked this video over on Althouse the other day:

David Mamet parses the difference between greed and ambition in his book The Secret Knowledge:
Greed is a sin. Ambition is a virtue. Society may express its appreciation of the fine distinction through gossip, but the law cannot take notice of anything other than crime. Greed does not create wealth. Barring luck and crime, wealth may only be created through satisfying the needs of others.
Mamet uses the example of the housing market collapse:
President Obama spoke of 'predatory lending.' But how can lending be predatory which is not usurious? It cannot. No one forced the virtually cost-free loans upon the borrowers. They took the loans in hope of gain. The banks made the loans in hope of gain. Is either side greedy? The actions of the banks may have been ambitious, but what, otherwise, is the nature of a business? And the borrowers' desire to get the best possible terms at the lowest cost, had the market not failed, would have been hailed as genius. It is disingenuous, then, that the borrowers, having lost, are championed by those who enjoy identifying them as victims. 
I wonder if his last line was directed at John McCain in the last election.


  1. The problem was government guarantees. If the government simply stepped back and allowed the market to decide who was credit worthy and who was not, we wouldn't even be debating the greed issue. The core of the greed lays at the feet of Congress and their unbounded desire to get re-elected and to buy votes with taxpayer dollars. IMHO.

  2. Look who's proposing subsidies now: link