Nicholas Lukowiak

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What creates greed? A response to a question on TED, I want critical, analytical, and honest opinions of the following answer, its of value.

I am fully aware of communism and those ideals are great! In theory... in practice they happen(ed) to be destructive, this is very true. However a greater debate could be on whether it is due or of the result; as being a product of the result it can be considered be to being economics. You cannot be equal when involving money .. So this will tie into greed. Greed (the want/”need” of power) is emotionally drived by being encouraged, responsibility-based, respect, honored, and influenced heavily through the ever changing cultures of time. This created a lot of our history, due to mass conquering(s) through out time, people trading, exploring, exchanging information in any form. This changed cultures, changed the way(s) many people think/live every century, sometimes never or rarely being effected. Very important, seen, and explored through(out) our ancient art, literature, pictures, pottery, paintings, and creative abilities to everyone through out human history. Everything effected, the way we are raised, the world in which we have to live our life in; remember life was lived differently throughout time and effected culture, faith(s) systems, and overall spiritual belief. Including to life; what our predestined jobs were going to be, whether we have options or not, what our opportunities are/what they aren’t, religious fundamentalism based belief system traditionalized into culture or freedom of religion.

Our fore fathers of science, philosophy, and math important to our modern day foundations of the sub-studies and the sub-sub-studies of these major subjects exist due to exploded, exploited, and enhanced study of these three major topics. Now there were very large populations of the world where people and entire cultures that were never exposed, associated, adapted, generated, inspired by alternative educations

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    • Apr 27 2011: peoples with dozens of security guards are not greed?

      there is a Persian poem:
      10 poor can sleep on a rug, but two King can not be fit into one kingdom.
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    E G

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    Apr 25 2011: the selfishness creates greed , very simple (and there is no man on the earth who isn't selfish)
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    Apr 25 2011: okay i thought you have had many thoughts from different sources.anyway, thank you for your answer.i think i need to explore it.
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    Apr 25 2011: along with what comes internally ,there are external factors that can contributes to the greedy actions.one you mentioned is ecomonic system,second i think the hierachies in different aspect of lives ? those things dontt make people greedy but they influences choices.just a thought.
    do you think greed is prediposed in human ? or rather leanrt?or both?
  • Apr 23 2011: " Greed, for the lack of better word, is good..." - Remember ? Greed is the dark side of what is widly accepted as good things. Something like,- competition, ambitions, success, self-confidence .... You need to be somebody, you don't have time to figure out who you are,it takes time , maybe the whole life. You feel insecure, threatened, you need to prove yourself and everybody that you are worthy. Worthiness in the society is measured by success or material stuff you posess. And here you are, an easy prey for greed.
    It is not deep insight into the phenomenon, just what lies on the surface.
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      Apr 23 2011: Exactly.

      Greed is good because it changed the world, it was important in history, is what I meant by my 6000 character essay. Now as we evolve in thought greed is more and more unacceptable and considered evil to be greedy. Natasha I am on your page no question.
      • Apr 24 2011: Sorry, Nic, we are on different pages here :) Gordon Gekko shares your page / OliverStone "Wall Street. Money Never Sleeps" / Watch the movie, if you have't yet. If you want to investigate the phenomenon, it may help.
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    Apr 23 2011: I think that there are two basic types of greed. One begins from lack. It is a reactionary response to needs that are unfilfilled and a person translates that into a life long obsession with owning and keeping (get all you can and can all you get).
    The second genesis of greed is self absorption and entitlement. When a child is raised without ever having to share and when they are convinced by caretakers and parents that they are very special and that all of their whims deserve to be placated - they become a specific type of greedy person who can never see that others have needs that are equally valid.
  • Apr 22 2011: Not sure what you're getting at here, Nicholas, but...

    The very word 'greed' has strongly negative connotations and so is, by definition, undesirable. I'm not sure you would find more than 0.0001% of the population who truly believe that unrestrained greed has anything good going for it. On the other hand, 'desire' or 'ambition' or whatever word you choose for a milder, less negative version of greed, is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is tempered by enlightenment. In fact, it is the driving emotion behind the creation of wealth, something that in general benefits all of society.

    The 'greed' of the bankers has been thrown around a lot lately because of the bizarre derivatives market just before the economic crash. But would anybody particularly mind their greediness -- assuming they were, indeed, greedy -- if they had had to pay the price when the house of cards collapsed? Instead, governments around the world bailed them out with public money, and so all of a sudden their greed affected all of us. I believe the free market capitalist system is a wonderful system that creates wealth for all, but how can the system possibly work if we don't let the failures fail?
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      Apr 23 2011: Greed created, destroyed, and rebuilt the world over and over again in history. Although unfavorable it is driven by the human need to compete to survive. One could argue our morals are developed through our drives, the major one for survival is the competitive drive. So we are by nature a creature who uses greed to survive, get ahead, build, create, and even destroy. This is why business is what it is today, people competing to be the best, to have the most, and to have the most power create competitive businesses. Greed is good, it challenges those who have nothing to put more effort into succeeding, it is how the world matures. Greed on the scale of what today, is a whole other topic which I will respectfully not have with you Rev.

      I will not get into capitalism, because among all the other ideologies in the world, none have done as much damage as that one.

      the word greed is the focus, what it is, what enhances it, what creates it, and/or cause and effects.
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      Apr 23 2011: Hi Revett, I think that it may be that you, as a good person who is wrestling with the issues of the have and the have nots, are a bit defensive on this topic. That may be because we have used the word greed in many contexts as a general catch all phrase when what most of us object to in the corporate setting is -rule bending, rule breaking, rule manufacturing, exploitation of marginal justifications, and down right crime in order to achieve ends that enrich them at the expense of others. It is when people totally disregard the good of society or others in general in order to manufacture profit for the few that we object so strenuously and often label them greedy when we should simply call them criminals in corporate suits.

      EDIT: It could also be that you are simply entrenched in your viewpoint to justify your own dissonance.
      • Apr 24 2011: But Debra, where is the evidence either that (to continue with my example) the so-called bankers were "greedy" prior to the recent meltdown? Maybe they were just responding to the demands of the market. After all, somebody was buying all those dopey derivatives. And, as I have asked before, where is the evidence that greedy financially successful people become that way "at the expense" of others?

        It is too easy to define greed as "that which I personally find greedy".
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          Apr 24 2011: Revett, I went to some effort in my last response to say that greedy might be the wrong word all together. I made it clear what I and many others object to. Surely you are not defending rule bending/breaking, exploitation and crime? I was trying to find our common ground so that I could advance my thinking. To do that I need you to evaluate what was actually said. Do you disagree with my definitions? If so, give me something to work with.

          If you want evidence of wrong doing- how about Madoff and all of the bankers who obviously knew that it was a pyramid scheme but did nothing to protect the system or the investors.
      • Apr 25 2011: Debra: Putting Bernie Madoff forward as an example of anything except a crook is stretching anybody's argument! No, of course I don't condone rule breaking, exploitation, or crime. But you and I may well see a particular activity differently -- for example, whether the derivatives bubble was actually driven by greed or was merely a reaction to what the market demanded. (Please note that I am not suggesting the latter, I am merely stating that it is a possibility. I don't have access to enough facts to make a definitive determination. Nor, I suspect, does anybody else.)

        Your definition of greed seems pretty fluid and very much targeted at men in suits who break rules and acquire wealth "at the expense of others", but you seem to lump together huge numbers of such people with little evidence that all or even most of them did actually break any rules or do anything at the expense of others. If someone did, in fact, lie, cheat, and steal to become wealthy, I'm the first to agree with you that that is a pretty good example of greed. But just because someone was smart enough to assemble a complex paper investment that somebody else willingly purchased doesn't necessarily make that person greedy.

        If you were selling your house and somebody offered you $50,000 over your asking price, would you take it or would you say "No, I'm satisfied with what I was asking, even though apparently I was asking less than the market price." If you take the money, you are, by your own definition, greedy. So now the difference between you and the billionaire banker is just one of degree, right?
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          Apr 25 2011: The court in England just ruled against Barclays, RBS and Lloyds. Is that sufficient evidence? They were convicted of 'mis-selling' insurances. Putting Madoff's name forward was an attempt to illustrate the degree to which other bankers ignored the obvious.While you are growing impatient with the young and the liberals I am growing frustrated with trying to keep people on topic and on point. I feel that I am trying to find common ground while others (I am trying hard to avoid the YOU word) are nit picking so that their stubborness ensures that conversations go no where.

          Please see my other responses to you under the postings by Bob.
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          Apr 27 2011: Revitt, Your example of someone offering more for my house than it is worth is a good one.
          The only way to have an ethical society is for each person to strive for an ethical life. I believe in finding a "fair price" when I buy or sell something and have paid more than the asking price and sold for less than the offered price when that does not seem fair. How can I expect others to be fair if I don't live that way myself. The satisfaction of a fair deal is much greater than a few (or even a lot of) extra dollars gained through dishonesty. The problem is that we don't have a system that reinforces this attitude. We have a system that reinforces greed.
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      Apr 23 2011: I would describe greed as the narrow focus on the accumulation of money and power in service of one's own interest at the expense of others.

      This is where the concept of "enlightened" self-interest breaks down for me. People with narrow vision of self-interest rise to positions of power and influence because that is where they put all of their energy and resource (greed). The failure of capitalism as manifested in the recent banking crisis is the failure to control greed. "Success" in business is evaluated in numerical terms which ignores relationships and the needs of others that do not directly contribute to the bottom line. I am all for freedom but freedom without taking responsibility for the effects of my actions on others is morally corrupt.
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        Apr 23 2011: Excellently put bob, thank you.
      • Apr 24 2011: "...at the expense of others.". No argument there. You nailed it.

        But then you say you have a problem with the concept of "enlightened" self interest. Is it "enlightenment" you have a problem with, or the fact that many people aren't as enlightened as they should be? If the former, what then is your definition of that word. If the latter, no argument from this corner!
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          Apr 25 2011: I doubt that any of us are as enlightened as we should be... I think of enlightened as bringing light, or bringing into the light so we see more clearly. I believe when we see clearly, we recognize the needs and concerns of others and particularly the effects of our actions and decisions on them - sort of a "Don't Tread on Others" mentality (to draw a contrast with Tea Party politics.)

          Enlightened self-interest seems a contradiction in terms. I would think that an enlightened person would view his or her own self interest as no more important than the interests of anyone else. The concept of enlightenment comes from Buddhism which focuses on reaching a state of ultimate compassion and unity by letting go of the self which is seen as an illusion.

          The problem I see with Ayn Rand influenced economic thinking is that it seems to disregard or ignore many of the effects of our actions on others. I must acknowledge I have not read her (but I have been thinking about it) but she seems to have influenced many of the politicians who seem less concerned about those who are affected by the economic decisions of the wealthy and powerful. They talk about the invisible hand of the free market but no one mentions that the free market also has an invisible heart (because it has no heart at all)

          This brings me back to "enlightened." I would define it as one with a clear vision and an open heart. The market puts our world in a frame that only reveals what is perceived as good for those near the top of the economic ladder. I think that is a pretty small frame.
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          Apr 25 2011: Please Revett! This might be the crux of the problem I have with your Rand fixation. It comes down to what she said and what she did NOT say. Rational selfishnessis what she promoted. Rational selfishness is a term generally related to Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy, and refers to a person's efforts to look after their own well-being, to cultivate the self and achieve goals for the good of the self. A good portion of her philospohy comes out the popular SocialDwarnism of the time.The focus in rational selfishness might be considered to be more self-directed (where the benefit to the group or society is a by-product) than the focus of enlightened self-interest which is more group-directed (and the benefit to oneself might be more of the by-product).In contrast to enlightened self-interest is simple greed or the concept of "unenlightened self-interest," in which it is argued that when most or all persons act according to their own myopic selfishness, that the group suffers loss as a result of conflict, decreased efficiency because of lack of cooperation, and the increased expense each individual pays for the protection of their own interests. If a typical individual in such a group is selected at random, it is not likely that this person will profit from such a group ethic.Some individuals might profit, in a material sense, from a philosophy of greed, but it is believed by proponents of enlightened self-interest that these individuals constitute a small minority and that the large majority of persons can expect to experience a net personal loss from a philosophy of simple unenlightened selfishness.
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          Apr 25 2011: It was John Forbes Nash who really put forward the idea of 'enlightened self interest' in opostition to Smith's idea of just plain selfishness.Nash has developed work on the role of money in society. Within the framing theorem that people can be so controlled and motivated by money that they may not be able to reason rationally about it, he has criticized interest groups that promote quasi-doctrines based on Keynesian economics that permit manipulative short-term inflation and debt tactics that ultimately undermine currencies. He has suggested a global "industrial consumption price index" system that would support the development of more "ideal money" that people could trust rather than more unstable "bad money". He notes that some of his thinking parallels economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek's thinking regarding money and a nontypical viewpoint of the function of the authoritiesJohn Nash proposed that collective outcome is maximized when each individual maximizes their own well being and that of their group’s. This concept is known as Nash Equilibrium. This was memorably demonstrated in “A Beautiful Mind.” Nash is sitting in a bar with his friends when a group of girls walk in. One of them is a stunning blonde and others are ordinary looking. Nash and his friends start discussing who can befriend the blonde. Nash observes that if they all strive for the attention of the blonde, none of them will likely get it. Meanwhile the other girls will be offended as they were ignored at first. So the optimal solution is for them to ignore the blonde and woo the other girls.
          My only orignal contribution to the giants of thought is to question, as a human being who my 'group' really is. Often, as a mother, I am advocating for future generations all around the world. These are the people who I believe are my group.
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          Apr 26 2011: Revett,
          I appreciate your respectful, open-minded dialogue with people who have different philosophies as well as your penetrating questions. I believe we have much more to learn from those we disagree with than from those who already share our point of view.

          I think you touched on a key point when you mentioned Ayn Rand's belief that her philosophy is grounded in human nature. I have a different view of human nature and would like to see some discussion on that as well as on how to have respectful, enlightening conversations with people we disagree with.

          I have a proposal for you. I will agree to read three books you suggest by Ayn Rand, Austrian Economists or others if you read 3 books I suggest that look at economics and human nature. I would likely propose "The Empathic Civilization" by Jeremy Rifikin, "The Fall" by Steve Taylor and "The Person and the Common Good" by Jaques Maritain.

          If you are interested, we can discuss the details. One option would be to agree on a sequence and post regular comments as we read. This could be a process that could take a few months but I think it could be an excellent learning experience.

          Let me know what you think.

          Bob
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          Apr 26 2011: Thanks for the clarification on Rand's definition of enlightened self-interest, Revett I don't see a mechanism in free markets that rewards those who think of others as well as themselves. How do we create an enlightened market when those who are most greedy and selfish tend to win with a never-ending focus on short term results?

          Bob
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          Apr 26 2011: Wow Bob..another great quote for my growing collection of TED quotes..thanks

          " I believe we have much more to learn from those we disagree with than from those who already share our point of view."


          So much wisdom there and the key to tolerance..when we are willing to be present o what offends or annoys or displaeses or jjst doesn't agree with us..we are starting to get somewhere worth being....
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          Apr 25 2011: This is the second time you have taken your ball and gone home.See ya!
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          Apr 27 2011: Revett, I went back to clarify terms and made it obvious that your 'heroine' as you have called her in other postings clearly advocates something far different than you have suggested that she did in all of the posts you have ever made on TED defending your position. It is a form of Social Darwinism in my opinion and it is something that quite parallels what the people who almost brought down our entire financial system practice. Your response? You told me that you know what you meant and and that philosophers don't interest you- the very 'philosophers' that you have consistently based your argument upon. Without attempting to be condescending- that appears to me to be a clear defense of a position and against facts that indicate you are burying cognitive dissonance and engaging in ego defense. You then insisted that I clarify another different point for you and took your ball and went home. This might be the pattern that works for you in business and in real life but- I do not bow to the tactic.
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          Apr 27 2011: Revitt, An economic system that results in one sixth of the population going hungry clearly is far from perfect. I agree that it seems no one has found a better one (European socialist systems like Holland and Sweden cannot compete in a global economy with other countries who care less about their populations). What baffles me is that no one seems to be looking at a better system. I think Jacque Maritain provides the best philosophical basis for one. He refers to the common good as the golden mean (Aristotle's term) between capitalism and communism both of which focus on the individual rather than the person. He describes the common good as striving to create a society that promotes the ability of each person to reach their full potential. This in turn, would lead to a society and operates at its full potential.

          I guess no economist will ever get funding to study new economic systems. Technological advances provide possibilities that Any Rand and Adam Smith would never have imagined.

          I will pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged. Let me know if you want to start a conversation where we can trade impressions and questions for each other.

          Bob
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          Apr 28 2011: Revett, I would suggest a conversation while we are reading. I have lots of notes and highlights in my copy and it would be interesting to discuss relevant points as they are raised. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I have time to pick up Atlas Shrugged and start reading it.

          Sorry to be replying during this discussion but I could not find a listing for your email.

          Bob
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          Apr 28 2011: Two older generation gentlemen discussing such topics, issues, and ideas is really teaching me something.

          I appreciate all three of you making this so emphasized on my thread.
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    Apr 22 2011: Fear and Scarcity. Oh, and some people are just greedy by nature.
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    Apr 30 2011: Nicolas, My wife read your comment and said "He's not an older gentleman, he's my husband..."
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      Apr 27 2011: Yes! Yes! Yes! Thanks for posting this Richard!
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    Apr 25 2011: ahhh my dear nichoals..leonardo..(da vinci)..gadfly..provocateur..what have you wrought here.. maybe..just maybe..just maybe..just maybe the word greed is a little too highly charged and casts a conversation at the outset in the non-fructifying world of polemics? The question you ask is too worthy of discenment and carefyul considertaion to be knocked off the rails by a highly charged word like GREED......I'm only sayn'......,
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      Apr 25 2011: The idea is not to even define greed, but to have a conversation of "what is greed" as it is apparent in this thread so far, people take this word on many levels as does my thread of "what is love"

      I am not seeking for one answer but many, I am seeking to connect ideas to get a better foundation to where the problems in societies lie and so far.. the results are up in the air (but not in the clouds) and as this thread makes sub-topics in itself. I do not restrict thinking in terms of these answers but in search engines, articles, and academic journals. Every word thus far is copied into a word doc. therefore TED is where I find faith based ideas as well as factual considerations and even various mixtures. Rare on the internet when involving abstract topics, especially from those who enjoy thinking for fun!

      Greed is no new subject at all Linday. But to think about the ideas surrounding greed is a greater benefit then actually figuring out what it is, personally.
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    Apr 22 2011: 4. is predisposed in us, without a true and free education, the drives are limited to our environments to find what we should compete in. Competing keeps the mind sharp and strong, making those who are greedy strong minded by their competitive nature involving money. Making the following phrase seem too true “Only the good die young.” sorry to go off topic. This is why evil is so subjective to perspective, especially when involving money, there are so many angles in which to consider such a claim. However, money isn’t the cause of greed, it is nature, and now as evolved in intelligence we are, we must work with nature to channel our natural drives into beneficial yet constructive ways that go beyond material needs. Let us continue to shape history in a highly accepting way, to build bonds, and to destroy imaginary borders to create something greater than anything that has preexisted us, thank you.

    Sorry this is the best I could do this, please figure the comment with no number is the second one.

    Original thought provoked question "the core issue which is human greeds( not only in these who have agenda but also you and me and everybody).what do you think would be a good solution taking that into account?(with a sincere look)" - Amily Shaw

    Your comment is most important.
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    Apr 22 2011: 3the effects are disclosed for TED policies. However, life goes on normally. Now, we live in this world. Where we have a competitive drive to naturally achieve great things, it is a drive that allowed us to exist this moment. This is why martial arts are a huge deal! Bruce Lee through extraordinary discipline of mind created one of the most respected martial arts of history and it was formed in the 60’s. It is why sports are so popular, why we admire athletes, why we should stay in shape, what keeps a life long and healthy is a balance of mental and physical strength, fact.

    Competitive drives transcend harsh physical laborer however to be a part of life.

    Now through the entire academic system of education, 6 – 12 subjects of study at maximum have been covered, and all not equally. Morals are left up to the cognitive education in which involve reflective based cognition. In school by how your teachers treat you. Your parents: watching them - how they speak, how they talk, how they behave. Your friends: what it takes you to have them, what it takes you to keep them. All morally based. Now within all groups there is conformity to a degree, even if partial. Conform to area of world, life style, faith systems, ideas, ideologies, etc etc build friendship and bounds and increase education.

    We have big problems today as a result of major greed that exist in this world. Money = power as it does throughout history, but inflation is most extraordinary in the most recent years than ever before. Now I hope by now it is clear where I am going with all of this? The idea of money is power. The human need for greed is drived by the emotional need to compete to survive. A “short-sighted” education is just that. Wise words “Education does not only encourage personal development, it also offers the general growth of an entire community providing a place for people to interact, socialize, and unify their societies”. People are greedy due to the competitive drive that is
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    Apr 22 2011: based on those people who created the art and philosophy, science and math were rare practices in respect to the entire world history of man. Indeed some areas of the world survived hundreds of years with only the basics of math and science, but always there is art.

    It is a part of nature in which human drives generate in nature naturally. Because of nature, the results of man, human nature recreated the human species time after time again, it is how we evolved into warriors able to be hunter/traveler/survivalist for thousands of years, it is how we win wars, it is how those who do not wage war are conquered, our natural conditions of being human remold and mold the world numerously over and over again. Competitive instant that keeps us going through life until an old age, longevity, is what kept us surviving through out life, thus the meaning of life, due to the laws of nature and universe.


    I think its "short sighted" education that creates modern greed. What does academia teach? It teaches you to remember, practice, and reiterate. Cognitive education is what you have through out your life growing up. It affects the cognition in which a person develops their beliefs, morals, and ethics on. The world, in which a baby is born into, is a blank one, until they are a child when they can’t adapt to the surroundings and conditions in which their environment is set. There are rarely, seldom, or never a lesson on moral values in academic education curriculum, except from religious influence that comes from tradition of family heritage. So every child in the world gains education(s) through their lives normally those who(s) parents are any faith, religion, and belief holders their children will think in those worlds of thought; or a change of faith (certainty) has chance. Any challenges to faith in the majority of the world are rare. When confrontations, conversations, talks, and/or anything that suggest other wise to beliefs installed by society, family, or community t