Greed Is Good? Where Will America's Sick Obsession With Wealth And Money End?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Everywhere you look, Americans appear to be extremely obsessed with wealth and money.  These days, networks such as CNN endlessly run "news stories" with titles such as "Best cars for the super rich".  We have television shows where people proudly show off how wealthy they are, and it seems like Hollywood is putting out an endless parade of movies that glorify the lifestyles of the elite.  We have hordes of motivational speakers and "life coaches" that will teach you how to be "more successful" in life, and every small movement in the stock market is carefully monitored by the mainstream news media.  Even in the world of faith, we have an entire class of ministers known as "prosperity preachers", and many of those ministers wear that label quite proudly.  Yes, those that grew up in the 1980s may have been the "greed is good" generation, but the truth is that they didn't have anything on us.  As a society we love money, and we are not ashamed to admit it.  In fact, there are times we absolutely revel in it.  For example, Time Magazine published an article this year entitled "Science Proves It: Greed Is Good" and hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow.  But where will America's sick obsession with wealth and money end?  Could it end up destroying us?

I got the idea for this article when I was browsing through CNN's website.  The following are eight "news stories" about wealth that were featured on CNN just on Thursday alone...

#1 "The richest Americans in history"

#2 "How much do you need to be happy?"

#3 "Where are the super rich?"

#4 "From broke to billionaire"

#5 "Homes: What $25 million buys around the world"

#6 "Best cars for the super rich"

#7 "America's homes are bigger than ever"

#8 "Mega yacht with a movie theater"

This is what passes for news these days?

It has been said that we tend to talk about the things that we are obsessed with.

And CNN is clearly obsessed with wealth.

Not that there is anything wrong with having money.

If none of us had any money, we would all be homeless and starving.  So the truth is that money can be very useful.  But when it becomes an idol, that is when it becomes a problem.

And because we have taught entire generations of Americans that becoming wealthy is one of the primary goals in life, it is creating a tremendous amount of envy, jealousy, frustration and anger among those that have not been able to become wealthy.

In recent years, the level of bitterness and resentment that the rest of the nation has toward the very wealthy has risen to an unprecedented level.  It has become exceedingly apparent that the system is designed to funnel wealth to the very top of the food chain, and many of those at the bottom of the food chain are starting to become extremely upset about this.

Since the last financial crisis, almost all of the income gains have gone to the top one percent of all income earners.  The following comes from a recent Huffington Post article...

Economic statistics show that incomes for the top 1 percent of U.S. households soared 31 percent from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation, yet inched up an average of 0.4 percent for those making less. Many economists are sounding alarms that the income gap, greater now than at any time since the Depression, is hurting the economy by limiting growth in consumer spending.

And income inequality has become such a hot topic that it has even produced a New York Times bestseller by a French economist named Thomas Piketty.  This is what CBS News recently had to say about his book...

His book has landed on that debate like a bomb. Piketty's thesis: that the rate of return on capital, such as real estate, dividends and other financial assets, is racing away from the rate of growth required to maintain a healthy economy. If that trend continues for an extended period of time -- if wealth becomes ever more concentrated in the hands of a few -- then inequality is likely to get worse, says Piketty, 43, who started his academic career as an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and who now teaches at the Paris School of Economics.


Another reason "Capital" has caught the public's attention is that inequality is evident in what are by now a host of familiar symptoms. Stagnant pay, except among the super-rich. Soaring health care and education costs. The diminished expectations commonly found in young, especially those lacking college degrees, and old alike, as retirement becomes something to endure rather than to enjoy.

It would be foolish to deny that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing.  Even as the stock market reaches unprecedented heights, the middle class is dying and one out of every five children in America is living in poverty.

On a global scale, the wealthiest one percent now have 65 times more wealth than the entire poorest half of the global population does.

That is an astounding figure.

Most people don't realize this, but the ultra-wealthy have approximately 32 trillion dollars (that we know about) stashed in offshore banks around the planet.  That amount of money would almost be about enough to pay off the entire U.S. national debt and buy every good and service produced in the United States for an entire year.

Meanwhile, the poorest half of the world's population only owns about 1 percent of all global wealth, and about a billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every night.

If greed was going to save the world, it would have done it by now.  At this point, the wealthy have accumulated more wealth than they ever have before.  For example, according to Zero Hedge the total amount of wealth in the U.S. has just hit a brand new record high...

Earlier today the Fed released its latest Flow of Funds report, which showed that in the first quarter household net worth rose from last quarter's $80.3 trillion to a new record high of $81.8 trillion, driven by a $1.5 trillion increase in total assets while household liabilities were virtually unchanged in the quarter. And since the Fed is onboarding all the liabilities why should households bother with debt: that's what the central bank balance sheet is for.


As for the proceeds, they go to the mega rich: of the $81.8 trillion in net worth, 70.4% of the total amount or $67.2 trillion, was in financial assets: the higest it has ever been courtesy of just one person: Ben Bernanke, and to a far lesser extent Janet Yellen who however is tasked with picking up Bernanke's pieces.

But of course most people who are rich are only rich on paper.

As noted above, 67.2 trillion dollars of the total of 81.8 trillion dollars of wealth in this nation is made up of financial assets.

So what happens if there is a major financial crisis (such as the derivatives bubble bursting) which causes the total amount of financial wealth in the United States to drop by 50% or more?

What would such an event do to our country?

We are so obsessed with wealth and money that it is truly frightening to think about how we would react as a society if it was taken away.

But this current financial bubble will not last forever.

At some point it will come to an end.

When it does, will our society throw a massive temper tantrum?

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WMM II's picture

"Greed Is Good? Where Will America's Sick Obsession With Wealth And Money End?"



tomorrow at 6 p.m. pacific daylight savings time.




CH1's picture

When one lacks meaning in their life, status is the replacement... and money allows them to demonstrate status.

May as well be baboons... almost, anyway.

Xibalba's picture

What does one expect from Cuomo News Network? 

0b1knob's picture

Definition of irony: Zero Hedge site obsessed with greed wealth and money criticizes Americans for being obsessed with greed wealth and money.

kaiserhoff's picture

Whoever wrote this piece, and whoever posted it, should try living without money for a month, or doing a real job.

Maybe then, they would understand.  New York and Hollywood worship money.  The rest of America, does not.

NidStyles's picture

Pretty sure the folks on the river worship their strips of paper as well. After all they are the ones that created the legal tender laws. 

macholatte's picture



Greed - ONLY in America

Envy -  ONLY in America

Avarice -  ONLY in America

Sloth - ONLY in America

Lust - ONLY in America

Gluttony - ONLY in America


Everywhere you look, Americans appear to be extremely obsessed with wealth and money. 


Maybe it’s everywhere YOU look, Snyder.  Maybe you need to get out more often.

COSMOS's picture

The big economic boom happened because the rest of the world was nearly back in the stone age after WW2, from Europe to Asia, now with their resurgence we were still doing ok because of the reserve status of the dollar even though we lost most of our manufacturing and we quote unquote thrived in a service economy.

When the dollar is forced to come home we will be looking at a country with close to 500 million people and not much industry to keep most of them employed.  Without a reserve currency the service economy is a bunch of bull.

So we will be no different than any other asian country with a large population of people just scraping by.  And all that 'growth' in the population will be like a sword hanging over our heads as we will have rampant crime to go with the rampant poverty.  Detroit is a cancer that is spreading.

Expect women to become even more selective and go all out for any guy making a decent income, no matter what the age, just like in South America.  Except it wont be just goldiggers as it is now here, but rather your pretty girl next door who doesnt want to be in poverty and will say adios to the high school sweetheart as she is now in search of security.

NidStyles's picture

That last part about females and income security is already occuring in a lot of areas. 


I don't think some of you really understand how far along this down slope the US already is. Culturally the collapse has already occured. Now we are literally just waiting for it to occur in the monetary arena, which the fed is fighting off with it's life, because you can be sure the fed is dead after this next crash. 


chumbawamba's picture

I say we're heading back to harems.  If you women want a truly good man you're going to have to get used to some company because there aren't enough to go around.  A great many American males have been emasculated over the past couple generations.  We have a bunch of naive and scared boys running around out there, with no idea what the fuck they are doing.  Some don't even know how to fix a flat.  I saw this kid wearing these boots the other day:

Look, I appreciate personal expression, but those express the idea that you're kinda faggy and are kinda useless, which is what this kid was.  No self-respecting male would--or should--wear those.

But I digress, I really wanted to point out what a tool Snyder is:

If none of us had any money, we would all be homeless and starving.  So the truth is that money can be very useful.

Yes.  Money is useful, because if we didn't have it, we'd all be sitting there dumbstruck wondering how the fuck we are going to find anything to put in our belly.  Why all of human existence would come to a sudden halt.

I am Chumbawamba.

NidStyles's picture

As a guy in my mid-30's I deal with a lot of younger guys, and I have seen some of them in action. I am not impressed with the younger generations. Most of them have to be told how to do something rather than figuring it out on their own. The rest couldn't put a socket on a ratchet if you showed them how. Don't get me started with how prissy some of them are about getting dirty.... I spent 3 months without taking a real shower, and most of these kids can't go more than a day without at least two and being bitchy if they can't. The perfume they wear as well. I have cologne for when I dress up for the wife, but these boys wear this stuff like French whores... The video games, the BS, the.... I could go on for days. I think the thing that bugs me the most is how consumed they are with their own physical image, like a bunch of pre-madonnas checking each other out and staring at each other's photos...  

 I honestly think this guy is talking about his own personal motives in the economy. I know a lot of people that do not really care about money, and they are probably the first people to help out a friend in need.

crazzziecanuck's picture

Every generation always thinks the next one is lazier than itself.

Wonder where they are learning it from?

markmotive's picture

They tried eliminating greed in USSR. Didn't work out so well.

There will always be the super-rich. No matter what system you enforce.

Super Rich Greed Game

MansaMusa's picture

True but the super rich is larger than ever now and so is the poor.  No more middle class, they'll be the ones who are neither super rich or destitute.

James_Cole's picture

Ya know, there's a difference between greed & fantasy, something the author has a tough time distinguishing between.

Wal-mart family pulling in absurd money whilst stealing from taxpayers + paying their employees a pittance = greed.

People on cnn looking at $25m houses = fantasy. 

Also amusing to see zh'ers going on about how awful the new generations coming up are. The ones on tv seem entirely useless (isn't that always the case?) but the real ones out there in the world are seriously smart kids.

There will always be stupid kids too, but when you look at the type of science prizes this up and coming generation is winning it's shocking.  

TheAnswerIs42's picture

What's the matter with kids?

Who wants respect from a 10 year old?


mvsjcl's picture

The Selfie Generation.

thestarl's picture

Children of the baby boomers want it all and now.

Jstanley011's picture

If I had no money, I'd be having to figure out how to barter my native genius for a quarter pounder with cheese...

Marco's picture

" I saw this kid wearing these boots the other day"

Is this really much worse than the Reeboks with air pumps the kids of the generation before them wore? Also lets not forget the mods, teddy boys, beatniks, greasers etc etc etc of old. I'm not saying nothing is getting worse, but to pick on fashion is to put on massive rose coloured glasses. We have some fucking retarded stuff in our (personal) pasts.

PT's picture

Long hair, paisley and flares?

MansaMusa's picture

Reebok pumps inspired one to be atheltic and jump high.  What do winged biker boots inspire?...

sessinpo's picture

macholatte    Greed - ONLY in America

Envy -  ONLY in America

Avarice -  ONLY in America

Sloth - ONLY in America

Lust - ONLY in America

Gluttony - ONLY in America

 Everywhere you look, Americans appear to be extremely obsessed with wealth and money. Maybe it’s everywhere YOU look, Snyder.  Maybe you need to get out more often.


Greed only in America. Complete BS. Greed exists from the West to the East. From Christianity to Mulism and Agnostics to Athiests.

Avance only in America? How many palaces do various dictators in their nations? Again BS.

Sloth - ONLY in America, again BS. Sloth is for the progressive weak that are dependent on government and socialism.

Lust - ONLY in America. Once more BS. The muslim nations lust for the wealth of nations they do not control.

Gluttony - ONLY in America. And the Sultan, with slaves is an example that show the statement false.

If only America has these problems, and I don't deny America does, then why are there countless examples around the world that suggest that absurd amount of greed is not just America's problem. It is a fundamental problem, a character problem such as a psychopath, that effects some people around the world, not just America.




detached.amusement's picture

how can you not imply a sarc tag on those things ooooonly being in america ;)

Abitdodgie's picture

The rest of America will do anything for money.

sessinpo's picture

 Abitdodgie    The rest of America will do anything for money.


I will do anything to get by that doesn't break the law or breaks my religious belief. Does that make me greedy? To some it would.

caShOnlY's picture

Whoever wrote this piece, and whoever posted it, should try living without money for a month, or doing a real job

that is coming to almost all america.  that IS the point of the article.  Greeeeeeeed!

Lost My Shorts's picture

I tend to agree about the irony part.  For a lot of the ZH faithful, Ayn Rand is like Allah and Mohammed rolled into one, and Atlas Shrugged is the Koran.  Is greed good?  What a stupid question !!  Of course it's good.  Not only is greed good, it's the only thing that is good.  Whoever has the most toys wins, and if anyone takes your toys away, go galt.

detached.amusement's picture

nothing wrong with having a lot of toys so long as you've honestly earned the steam to get 'em.  I dont know what makes a babboon happy, but I'm sure he does...and he may or may not operate by a code of ethics.  when the code of ethics is gone in favor of accumulation by any means, that's when it becomes a problem.


for a lot of people that have problems with rand, half of the problem is the angle they're viewing the prism from.

Ignatius's picture

Words and concepts like proof, truth and evidence have lost their meaning in this Age of Advertising.  All political issues are reduced to a Coke vs Pepsi where the only thing that matters in the end is who sold more product.  In war time it's understood that the primary/only concern is winning and if that requires propaganda (lies) then so be it.  The Age of Advertising is like a never ending, amoral war.  "Truth is for losers", if you will.

Dick Buttkiss's picture

"If none of us had any money, we would all be homeless and starving."

Nonesense. For 95% of homo sapiens' existence, our species had neither money nor property and was not only free but free to learn:

We will either do so again — though in technologically advanced fashion — or self-destruct.  


Seek_Truth's picture

Nonsense. For 95% of...

Indeed, learn to survive, which our ancestors did very well, or we would not be here. It's one part knowledge, one part faith.

Otrader's picture

A lot of people can't do that.  We've been programmed to feel good only thru consumerism. 

Dick Buttkiss's picture

That we have, and we all live Under the Dome accordingly, the world's nation-states — which are nothing but organized plunder — having reduced the world's populations to farm animals to be milked, sheared, and slaughtered for the sole purpose of serving the interests of the tiny few who control them.

Such is my faith in the galloping advance of technology, however, that I believe humanity will break out of the Dome, with the Internet and now “The Internet of Money” — — leading the charge.  

And simply put, once money and power are returned to the people, the nation-state — which is based solely on their acquisition — will be no more, and humanity will be “free at last” to fulfill its all but limitless potential.

Until then, the state can kiss my ass.

Marco's picture

Something has changed though ... in this day and age you would have to add a couple of parts steeling someone else's stuff.

There is no more land to homestead.

mc225's picture

indeed, 'everybody' is chasing dollars, but 'few people' actually ever think about where/how the dollars originated. it's a 'dollar chase' with no consideration for what dollars actually are. ...and, so many people use the terminology 'make money' when in truth only a select few ever 'make' money; most everyone else is left to chasing/grubbing/hustling/earning dollars, but the vast majority of people never actually 'make money' under this dollar regime.

Harbanger's picture

The only sick obsession I see is with the dumb fuckers who, regardless of thousands of years of recorded human history, still believe the Gov. can fix something.

nmewn's picture

Disregard the smoldering villages, salted fields, the bloated bodies on the roadside...and whatever you do, don't look inside the buildings still standing, its a work in "progress".

They seem quite confident they'll get it right ;-)

Omegaman2211's picture

Fix something? Fuck, I'm amazed people still think it should exist at all.

Indian_Goldsmith's picture

you people really dont understand what govt is, let me just tell u it will always exist. always.

You may think you know what i mean to say through the above statement, but i mean to say the opposite of what u think i mean to say

NidStyles's picture

No, you are incorrect, the state will always exist. Government is merely an externalization of what the state is and can only exist if a given society is forced to particpate in building up the state even against their best interests and wishes.

In other words, what you are saying is that slavery will always exist, but that simply is not the case, and it's only people like yourself that promote that idea and keep it alive. You are a would be "master" in other words. 



Marco's picture

So what is the alternative? Anarchism I guess?

Certainly not the Rothbardian insanity which claims to be anarchist in nature. A private land owner with a private security force is still a government ... that I can pick a lot of such governments to enslave myself to changes nothing.

sessinpo's picture

Indian_Goldsmith    You may think you know what i mean to say through the above statement, but i mean to say the opposite of what u think i mean to say


There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

Seek_Truth's picture

"Greed Is Good? Where Will America's Sick Obsession With Wealth And Money End?" -  "tomorrow at 6 p.m. pacific daylight savings time."

No actually, but not much longer:

Verse 25 needs to be explored in more depth- verse 26 has been sufficiently fulfilled in countless ways, for instance:

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. - Luke 21:25-26


29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[e] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. - Matthew 24:29-35


12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide usf from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of theirg wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” - Revelation 6:12-17


A Solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon and Sun line up (in that order). This causes the Moon to stand in the Sun’s way (from an Earthly viewpoint).

A Lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up (in that order). This causes the Earth to cast a shadow on the Moon (from an Earthly viewpoint).

Both Solar and eclipses have three types- Partial, Annular, and Total.  Partial eclipse is where only a part of the Sun or Moon is obscured. Annular eclipse occurs when the center of the Moon or Sun is obscured, but a ring of brightness shines around it. Total eclipse is as one would think- the Sun or Moon is COMPLETELY obscured.

The type that would correspond to Biblical prophecy would have to be TOTAL Solar and Lunar eclipses.

Another important point to keep in mind, to narrow down which eclipses would fulfill Bible prophecy, is that these eclipses would be observable from the lands of the Bible itself- Israel and surrounding lands.

There are plenty of Total Solar eclipses and Total Lunar eclipses that we can find occurring since Christ’s sacrifice. But what we are looking for here are eclipses that follow these criteria:

1.      Only TOTAL eclipses are candidates for Prophetic fulfillment.

2.      Total Lunar eclipse must FOLLOW a Total Solar eclipse.

3.      Both conditions must be observable from lands of the Bible (Israel and surrounds).

“The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair” - There will be a TOTAL Solar Eclipse that fits these criteria on March 20, 2015:

“the whole moon turned blood red” (Revelation 6:12)- Followed by a TOTAL Lunar eclipse that fits these criteria on April 4, 2015:

What is really unusual about these events is that this Total Solar eclipse occurs on the same day as the Spring Equinox (March 20, 2015). – AND- this Total Lunar Eclipse (April 4, 2015). occurs on the eve of the Lord’s Last Supper, on Passover!

Really amazing, especially when one considers all the other prophetic clues that have happened in fulfillment of the other items associated with this prophecy. But what of the “the stars in the sky fell to earth”? (Revelation 6:13)

The Perseid Meteor Showers begin in mid July, 2015, and reach their peak on August 12, 2015:


Harbanger's picture

When you walk with God there is nothing to fear.

piceridu's picture

When I walk with Joe Pesce, there's nothing to fear.