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Is unbridled greed and ambition compatible with permaculture

 
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xpatbob wrote:
I can not disagree more with your support of greed. just listened to your podcast first time and feel. sad.  I
have always lived what you call humbly. never bought a house once bought a new car a very small cheep one. all my clothes are second hand, and still have No extra money. don't go out to party, don'f gamble....
while i do hope to learn something here i find your talk sounds more than a bit arrogant....   

         Dale Hodgins here, the original poster of this thread.     We seem to have redefined greed as wanting to control the earnings and resources created by others. By this definition, I don't support greed and all. The podcast also came out against such behavior. The idea of being consumed by jealousy and coveting what has not been earned is the more negative form of greed.

    I am certainly not one of the world's wealthier citizens and also pride myself on living frugally. But I realize that my financial state and the state of my life generally is largely my own creation. Most of my life's work has served to reduce resource usage, so everything I have is something that was taken from no one. It was in fact extracted from the waste stream. I'm a garbage picker just like those people in the São Paulo dump. I've just found a way to do it more successfully.

   Personal financial data is not relevant to this discussion. Everyone here has some sort of history. Some choose the learn from their own experience and from the experience of others. The podcasts allow anyone to benefit at no cost. Those who are unwilling to learn from those with experience will not benefit greatly while others will put what they've learned to daily use. Over time this difference in attitude will affect their bank accounts.

     Back to the podcast and to the recurring theme of many podcasts.  No matter what subject Paul covers whether it be irrigation, how to raise chickens, or the best way to incorporate hugelkultur into your farming practices, Paul interviews and talks about people who have been successful in their field of endeavor. To me this is the only sensible approach. I have no desire to learn how to fail at any of these things. Naturally the people who become the subjects of these podcasts tend to be doing fine economically due to their mastery of these skills.

   I expect that my involvement on this forum will ultimately increase my farm production and therefore add to my personal wealth. And since I'm actively involved in various types of research which I share freely I will no doubt help others to achieve financial success as their production increases. Those who are disinterested or feel that it is somehow wrong will not benefit.

      I don't think there's anything arrogant about someone who has done exceptionally well in the world sharing their formula for success. This can be incredibly valuable to those who haven't managed to figure these things out for themselves.
   
 Of course some people don't define success in monetary terms and that's fine. I couldn't possibly consider myself successful if I don't have enough money to pursue my interests and accomplish my goals. In this way success is achieved in the process much as they say that getting there is half the fun. By setting high goals and working towards them I'm able to look at my cup as half full.

    Every day the newspaper and television is full of stories of someone who has made millions in manufacturing, entertainment, finance or some other field. We need to have many more fine examples of financially successful people who tread lightly on the earth.
 
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xpatbob wrote:once bought a new car a very small cheep one



[quote author="one of the 50% of people living on less than $2 per day"]A car?  For your yourself?  How incredibly greedy!

I think almost everyone is going to be "greedy" if that means they have gathered more "wealth" than someone else.  Based on my interpretation, I think part of Paul's point in the podcast was that this is why the word is so meaningless.

Interestingly, if there are eight kinds of wealth, are the tangible ones the only sort that inspire use of the word greedy?

"Look at that greedy fucker - he's collected so much culture and spirituality!" 
 
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funny that you had mentioned that phil

I am extraordinarily greedy in terms of knowledge and skills whenever I meet someone that can do something I can't I try and convince them to show me how. I'm not nearly so greedy about material things, except for tools if I had my way I would have huge barns full of millions of dollars worth of tools for me to play with my projects with.
 
Phil Hawkins
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Brice Moss wrote:... except for tools if I had my way I would have huge barns full of millions of dollars worth of tools for me to play with my projects with.



I have one of those.  Well, not millions, but let's say tens of thousands.  Unfortunately I have not been nearly greedy enough with my time, and thus have none to spare (take that, third ethic!).  Doubly unfortunate is that my inner-hippy is now looking at my idle lathes and milling machines thinking "metal is so unsustainable - I gotta learn to build with bamboo!"
 
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Phil H wrote:
I have one of those.  Well, not millions, but let's say tens of thousands.  Unfortunately I have not been nearly greedy enough with my time, and thus have none to spare (take that, third ethic!).  Doubly unfortunate is that my inner-hippy is now looking at my idle lathes and milling machines thinking "metal is so unsustainable - I gotta learn to build with bamboo!"



thats just silly, well made metal products are among the most sustainable products in the world because they last for generations and contain nothing that cannot be recycled indefinitely my scythe blade is over 30 years old my belt knife is about 70 years old and my stainless pans are over 25 years old, all of these things will be my children's in another 20-50 years. The sustainability issue is with where the power and heat to work you steel come from. and of course all the stamped out crap that bends up and need replacing every few months of use.

so I say if you proudly turn out high quality items in metal you are doing a very sustainable thing by preventing the purchase of inferior products that will not last.
 
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I listened to Paul's podcast. I agree with the thoughts and conclusions that were discussed. I've advised my kids and friends that when someone accuses them of something they don't feel they're doing, they need to focus not on what's coming out of the accusers' mouths, but on what is motivating them to say those things. It sheds a lot of light on the situation.

I happen to have seen this in my extended family- Particular people working hard and accumulating enough to be able to provide for their kids, to share their home for holidays, etc. And others in the family who come up with every excuse why they can't work, but then turn around and accuse the hard working ones of being greedy. I think it's just gonna come with the territory of being human....there's probably always going to be those types.
 
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Esop's fable: Remember the ant and the grasshopper. The ant worked and gathered spring, summer and fall. The grasshopper played, ate and rested. When winter came the ant was warm and had plenty, the grasshopper was sure to die.

OK, we take from the ant to give to the grasshopper. Other insects are certified as grasshoppers. The grasshopper grows in number to that of the ants. Take first from the ant who has most, then down the line until all is taken. Everyone starves.

The trouble with soicalism is you eventually run out of other people's money - Meg Thatcher
 
Dale Hodgins
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Now that we have a section on finances, I wonder if this thread could be moved out of drivel where it has remained dormant for over a year.

During that year, my greed has not subsided one little bit. I'm a little closer to my financial goals but still millions short of the point where I would embrace wholesale sharing. I share plenty of other things from rides to free stuff at my job to help with worthy causes. But I never share money with anyone other than my kids. It's a frugality thing. Just as I would never leave water running down the drain or burn good lumber, I abhor the idea of financial leakage.

I am regularly asked to give money to those who have spent all of theirs. In running themselves completely broke, they have exposed a personal trait that for many, has more to do with personal priorities than with income. I have worked with many guys who couldn't get their financial house in order. Invariably, there were other problems including alcoholism, drugs, or some mental issue which caused them to spend like sailors on leave. Problems like that are not caused by money and adding my money to their vices would solve nothing.

 
Dale Hodgins
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jack spirko wrote:Dale, ask Paul and he will tell you the following words are something I almost never say.

I am 100% completely in agreement with you on every word of what you just said.

Man that almost never happens if there was a smilie for standing applause here I would have inserted it for you.



Just bringing this one to the front in a fun way. I like Jack. He gets to preach it hard in those videos.
 
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In my view greed isn't all bad. You really have to unpack what you mean by greed though.

Are bees greedy for nectar?

Are root systems greedy for water and other nutrients?

I believe the key to this issue is to detach from the money perspective. The US dollar is a fiat currency anyways. It's more important to look at the energetic exchange behind the money. Desertification and its relation to agriculture is a lopsided exchange. Creating housing, "clean" jobs, and productive ecologialy respectful systems are a more balanced energetic exchange.
 
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Dale- I enjoyed reading the back and forth between you and Jack Spirko. I'm a fan of both of you.

Have you considered being a guest on Jack's show? He has a guest submission form on his site but it is currently down- you should check back in a month and fill it out- remind him that he "agrees with 100% of what you said" and i'm sure he'd make time to schedule you for a podcast, and I don't recall him doing a show on deconstruction/recycling/building for a long time.

As for greed- you mention "unbridled greed" which is a condition I don't think you are afflicted by. Unbridled greed is Wolf of Wall Street stuff- you work within an ethical system, strive to be green, work in recycled materials. Your greed is plenty bridled. If your greed was actually unbridled, you'd be out with the rest of the developers making an absolute killing.

Jack Spirko said another thing once that stuck with me: "You deserve what you want."

Think about that.

Anything you want, you deserve that thing. Nobody has to give that thing to you, but if you can get it [hopefully ethically], you deserve to have it. So if you want a huge property, rooms to rent out and make more money, a huge fancy tour bus, etc etc; go get it. You're more ethical and "right-livelihood" than most of the yahoos out there, so be as greedy as you want. Hats off to you, Dale.

I do wonder if your "greed" question has anything to do with how you were raised- did you grow up poor/hungry? No offense intended but I often notice that people who have enlarged "greed glands" had some experiences growing up that caused them to desire higher levels of security than the "normals".
 
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The have and the have nots; class warfare...very divisive politics. I have noticed an alarming propensity towards deeming the act of taking others hard earned wealth and giving it to others, that, said stealer deems deserving, as proof of the stealers' higher morals and generousity. Each needs to fund their own choices of charities (or not). We also should never buy into the false economic model of a closed system. This flawed premise creates the idea that it is wrong for some to earn more (or keep more) wealth; as it prevents others from having their piece of the pie (closed system). We live in a rich universe of possiblities, all who are able and willing can obtain more to achieve their financial goals without taking it from others (open system). For those who can not help themselves due to age or physical limitations, charity is alive and well at all levels of society; and, it has always been that those with the most, who have of their own volition, provided the most. I rejoice with any who aquires wealth honorably! I will aquire what wealth I can; but, I envy no man his wealth; nor, begrudge him it. All societies benefit from those who accumalte honest wealth. None benefit from poverty. Stewardship is an honorable pursuit; yet, those too slothful to do so, often accuse those who practice it of being...greedy. They use this word because it is a negative term in any society (It conjures up the ideas of ill gotten gains); Dale, you are not greedy...you are a motivated steward!
 
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If every member of society took care to build a portfolio of assets the whole world would be in a much better place. The trouble is that many people can't distinguish assets from liabilities.

An economist may disagree but a simple measure that works is "does this put money in my pocket every month or does it take it out?" For most people a car is not an asset (it loses value over time, costs money to run in fuel and taxes etc...) but for others it is (a taxi driver, someone who commutes to a more highly paid job than available locally).

I put a short review up to a book that I love - short and sweet but gives a nice perspective on personal finance and greed.

The Richest Man in Babylon

If a desire to improve your personal situation is considered greed, then greed can be consider a good thing IF it is directed well.
 
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First and most import on this post discussion...

Paul, you are not "pie greedy" because you would share your pie with me...

You are a "pie glutton" because we both would find as many pies as we could, eat of them what we could, and plan world pie domination methods to makes sure we never suffered a pie shortage...


Now for GREED...

When I see, read, or hear the word, I personally think of the "seven deadly sins." From this perspective I think it is germane, but like Paul, I feel much of its meaning has been lost (or shifted.) Today when folks "suggest greed" they are often projecting there on "sloth" and "gluttony."

Regards,

j
 
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@Jay...

Very well put!





Aside...
"World pie domination" haha...why did my mind just pop up an image of "Brain" the mouse??
 
Dale Hodgins
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I just now realized that this thread is off and running again.

I often hear people confuse greed with ambition. I'm sure that I score quite high in that regard, but my ambitions often don't match what others consider worthy pursuits. I'm much more concerned about the state of the environment than about any individual's rights or their suffering. I get asked to join causes regularly and I often am put in the awkward position of having to explain why I can't support the cause since it is far less important than other things that consume my time and money. For me, the absolute top priority is to send more money in my direction. I've never heard of an environmental cause that gives more bang for the buck, than what happens when I get money. Therefore, I don't give any away. None. If I were a 9 to 5 guy working for the government, I might support this or that. I'm not. Instead, I work at things which are very much in line with what I preach. These things are underfunded. I'm underfunded. No point making it worse by sharing. I'll come back to this later, to answer a question that was asked.
 
Dale Hodgins
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nathan luedtke wrote:Dale- I enjoyed reading the back and forth between you and Jack Spirko. I'm a fan of both of you.

Have you considered being a guest on Jack's show? He has a guest submission form on his site but it is currently down- you should check back in a month and fill it out- remind him that he "agrees with 100% of what you said" and i'm sure he'd make time to schedule you for a podcast, and I don't recall him doing a show on deconstruction/recycling/building for a long time.

As for greed- you mention "unbridled greed" which is a condition I don't think you are afflicted by. Unbridled greed is Wolf of Wall Street stuff- you work within an ethical system, strive to be green, work in recycled materials. Your greed is plenty bridled. If your greed was actually unbridled, you'd be out with the rest of the developers making an absolute killing.

Jack Spirko said another thing once that stuck with me: "You deserve what you want."

Think about that.

Anything you want, you deserve that thing. Nobody has to give that thing to you, but if you can get it [hopefully ethically], you deserve to have it. So if you want a huge property, rooms to rent out and make more money, a huge fancy tour bus, etc etc; go get it. You're more ethical and "right-livelihood" than most of the yahoos out there, so be as greedy as you want. Hats off to you, Dale.

I do wonder if your "greed" question has anything to do with how you were raised- did you grow up poor/hungry? No offense intended but I often notice that people who have enlarged "greed glands" had some experiences growing up that caused them to desire higher levels of security than the "normals".



Thank you Nathan. When I started this thread, the Occupy thing was in full swing. Anybody with gainful employment and clean pants was under suspicion. I had read so much self serving, kleptocratic fluff, that I felt some balance was in order.

I don't know if I qualify as someone Jack would interview. That might not matter. You could interview me on a subject that I'm unfamiliar with and I'll do alright. I would want to have my place in a far better state of permiculturiness before asking anybody to do a video on that. Now if we're talking pure political debate, that might be fun. I suspect that I'm more mainstream than Jack. I could talk for ten hours straight about deconstruction and how to utilize the materials in the best possible way. Even with that, I have some very unpopular opinions on what to do about major environmental offenders. I'd like to see many environmental crimes elevated to capital offenses. Jack might want to talk about that.

Jack may say "You deserve what you want" but I doubt that this could work for those who want ridiculous things. Mick said "You can't always get what you want". I've found this to be true, even when I'm only trying to get what I need.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the upbringing question --- I was never hungry but didn't like the slop that was often served. I had no power as kids normally don't. I was raised in a family with 10 kids, so there was a lot of unwelcome sharing. I was far more productive than some siblings and thus resented the imposition of equality. --- The child is the father of the man. ---

To me, money is power. If you have it, you have the power to act, to control your life and your property. Without money and the things it buys, we end up as victims of circumstance, unable to accomplish our goals and be masters of our own destiny. There are some exceptions, but I think that generally, those who are unable to amass a suitable nest egg and aquire needed assets, are a less happy bunch than those who strive for what they want and succeed.

I know what success looks and sounds like and I know what failure looks and sounds like. I've seen it in many people and in myself. For me, financial failure is the ultimate personal failure. I would rather be known as the guy who did this or that and did six months for it, than as the guy who lost all of his money or failed to get it in the first place. It's not about a number in a bank account, it's about being empowered or utterly powerless. Our decision making, priorities and work ethics are the determining factors for most, on whether we achieve what we want to achieve. Leaving out the top 2% whose success can often be attributed to inherited wealth, most people are responsible for where they are at financially. --- I've been very poor. I didn't like it. I don't think I will ever reach that awful state again. If I do, I'll deal with it without parisitising other productive people.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I was accused of greed while selling vegetables at a roadside stand this summer. It was a truly odd exchange. A woman who I know, stopped by for a rant. My greens were tied into little $2 and $3 bunches. A few big squash were marked $4 and $5. She insisted that food should be free, and that I shouldn't take advantage of people. She was on her way home from work. They pay her there, and she spends some of that money down at Thrifty Foods. I pointed this out. She said it was OK for them to charge because they had to buy the stuff and they had to buy the building, heat it etc. Since my costs are very low, I should give it all away. It went on. She's a regular customer for landscaping services, so I tolerated her a little longer. This is the most difficult customer that I deal with. I have often considered cutting her loose. I often ignore her calls in favor of more agreeable types.

In the end, I made her an offer. I agreed to put half of the stuff at the road for free, if she would buy the other half and put it at the road. She declined this offer. She can't waste money on stuff like that.
 
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You're talking about winter squash? 5$ for a large summer squash is highway robbery. At least way down here. It's all in the exchange rates.

Also Regarding the topic of this post.

Yes.

"Unbridled" - Unrestrained, unchecked, without control or limitation
"Greed" - intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food

so is "intense unchecked selfish desire with no limitation" comparable with permaculture. No clearly not.

Now if we could strike that and instead ask

"Is unbridled greed and ambition compatible with permaculture"

Fuck yeah it is. I say get ambitious or go home. Where you probably already are. Homesteading.

OH!

edits: text fiddling
 
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I think the keyword's 'unbridled'. If you happen to have that summer squash on your farm and a farmstand in a tony area that people will PAY $5 for it without hardship or qualm? Go for it! I don't think you're necessarily obliged to sell things 'affordably', either, because you have a RIGHT to be paid fairly for your time and labor and materials. I think the problem comes in when a financial benefit is put higher in your priority list for making a decision than ethical considerations.
 
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If the lady valued your efforts the price would not be an issue. If the lady did not value my efforts, I would choose not to do business with her. In growing a squash and offering for sale nothing has been taken from the lady. She has every opportunity to get her own land, get her own seed, and invest her own time and effort into growing her own squash. In one breath she claims you are taking advantage of her. In her next, she wants to take advantage of you. Perhaps if the lady possessed ambition she would have all the squash she could stand and ample to do with as she pleased, including give them away.

Greed can be interpreted as the want of money. It is self-serving. I would think some level of greed would be essential to look after ones own needs. Unbridled greed, the love of money for it's own sake, serves no purpose and is detrimental to the notion of independence. One becomes a slave to acquiring more money.
The counterpart to greed is charity. Go ahead and share the surplus. I use economics to determine who to share it with. As with greed, unbridled charity is self destructive.

Ambition is a separate subject. Ambition is a driving force. Without ambition there is no passion, no will to achieve. Permaculture says 'produce a yield'. Wouldn't a person need at least a little ambition to accomplish that? Ambition is limited by ability. Unbridled ambition, when coupled with unbridled ability has the power to change the world.
The counterpart of ambition is indifference: Why bother? Without inspiration the human spirit dies.

I want money because it can give me Freedom. I won't be beholding to anyone for my needs. I won't have to trade my time for money. I'll be free to pursue my ambition. I have more ability that I'm allowed to express at a job; A job imposes limits. When I tell my boss "THERE'S MORE OUT THERE' I'm referring to the freedom follow my passion. He perceives it as 'maybe I can get a better job working for someone else' so I end up getting a raise, which is kinda nice. With every paycheck I get a little closer to paying off the mortgage. When it's gone, the whole equation changes. I won't need the job. I'll be free to do those things I want to do rather than spend all my time doing the things I have to do.

I'm close, man. I'm REAL CLOSE.
 
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@ Dale...

The last line of your post had me chuckling! It summed her up perfectly: A bossy busybody who wants to give away other peoples' money; but, considers charity a waste of Her money! She is not a local politician is she? lol

We too, have dealt with a few similar people. We make a point to produce quality items; and charge a fair to low price for the items. Several people want us to sell them at the prices of items that are nothing like what we sell. One guy had quite the tirade on a livestock matter. The irony is that his accusation of greed was motivated by HIS very real greed! He wanted high quality livestock; but, he wanted to pay less than cull quality market prices!

Be true to your own principles and do not worry about what names people call you.
 
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Chickens :

The poor sap down the road who spent $450,000 on a CAFO operation is now mortgaged and committed until the next generation. He has to continually upgrade and reinvest according to the whims of his corporate overseer. He pollutes the environment. Harassed by regulators. Meanwhile he ends up making a blue collar wage and sells a chicken to somebody that sells the chicken to Wal-Mart who sells it to customers for $3.99. His ambition could not be considered unbridled since he volunteered for this heavy yoke. Greed could not be a factor. Investing $450,000 to make a blue collar wage is far from greedy. Nor intelligent in my eyes.

The permie neighbor decides to raise pastured fowl with chicken tractors and movable pens. Infrastructure is a couple of grand. Upgrades cost little and old parts are just re-purposed. Soil fertility increases. The permie stays under the regulatory radar. The chicken operation is integrated into a productive system that provides food, fuel , and further income. There are a select group of customers who appreciate the quality of the chicken and are willing to pay $20 a bird. The permie is efficient and frugal and sees that he or she can pay themselves $25 an hour for their effort. The integration of other enterprises on the permie farm compounds that hourly income. Unbridled ambition it is. No corporate yoke. No heavy investment burden. No crony capitalist master breathing down your neck. No greed either. Just pride in an intelligent pathway. P.R.I.D.E. "Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort".

 
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Back to the original question...

A lot depends on which definition of greed one uses. In the common (and negative) sense; the answer is no. As to ambition; most definitely! Since Permaculture is not a religion that requires its' participants to maintain any set of standards; you will find people participating in permaculture who hold a wide range of beliefs and mores...the answer to the original question will vary from person to person. As such, each perspective is interesting but not definitive. Personally, I choose to achieve as much as I can in all areas of my life, while doing no harm to others. I also believe that how I choose to utilise or dispense my wealth is for me alone to decide.
 
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I recall Paul, jokingly talking about spending money on drugs, hookers and hooch. He was saying that it was none of the outsiders business how the money was spent.

I've been told that I am lucky to have my land, lucky to be healthy, lucky that my kids turned out well, lucky that I have a job, lucky that I know how to do a wide range of things ... When I'm dead tired and knee deep in work, it doesn't feel like luck to me.
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Jenny and the carrots --- Jenny planted a garden and grew 10 nice carrots. How many carrots should she be allowed to eat ?

Pleased with the outcome, the next spring, Jenny dug up the whole yard and planted carrots. She got a million of them. How many carrots should she be allowed to eat ?
 
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Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
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