How Does Greed Affect Society?

Unrestrained decadence is often associated with the fall of the Roman Empire and, in contemporary society, human greed has led to disparities of wealth and class and corruption in business and politics. These factors combine to create a general sense of dissatisfaction in society.

In many ways, greed is considered a virtue. According to economist Walter Williams, greed is actually fundamental to the way in which contemporary society operates. It is the basis for favorable economic outcomes.

Despite these favorable economic outcomes, which include higher incomes, better quality of life (in the sense of fulfilling basic needs) and increased personal possessions overall, there has been a gradual decline in self-reported 'happiness' since the early 1970s.

One of the reasons for this is that greed drives consumers into debt. Psychologists have often remarked on the incompatibility of economy and mental health. Some of the impacts of greed in this sphere include depression, hopelessness and despair.

It is also unclear as to how healthy unrestrained greed is for an economy in the long-term. Some argue that a combination of low savings and high debt will ultimately damage the economy for some time to come.

Even so, some economists argue that humans are inherently greedy and that no truly altruistic or equal society has ever existed.