Notes on Greed

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Introduction to Greed

      Sounds pretty uninviting, I know. Who wants to hear someone moralizing about greed? So what gives? It's not moralizing that interests me -- not preaching against 'sin' -- in fact I don't believe in the notion of sin. I'm sure that at a deep level the institutionalization of greed is the greatest threat to human survival and to survival of the biosphere, and we'd better deal with it, and very soon. Contemporary capitalism is the embodiment of greed combined with incredibly powerful mechanisms of control based on science and technology. Every day in the newspapers you can see evidence of the destruction of the ecosphere. It's not something that needs further study to be absolutely sure -- the time for action has long since passed. So we better deal with fundamentals. Incidentally, I use ecosphere as being synonymous with biosphere.

      The Notes on Greed series is a sequence of short articles that deal with greed and related topics (hierarchy, power, etc.) at the University of Massachusetts at Boston (UMB). It started with an article in the Mass Media, the UMB student weekly newspaper, in Spring 1997. I reprinted that article, and wrote four more, which the Mass Media printed in slightly sanitized versions. A fifth, on tenure, is still not completed--interrupted by other efforts.

Contents of this folder

      There are various essays, a link to an essay by Jared James (item 3 below), correspondence that records a conflict I had with the dean of sciences during the Fall '97 term, the last time I taught Science for Humane Survival, and two related items: the last Annual Faculty Report I submitted, in November 1970; and a statement to the Physics Department on my objection to these reports, in December 1973.

1. The Gold Rush is a talk I gave on April 15, 1992 at a forum organized by the University of Massachusetts/Boston Coalition for Peace. Titled "The 'New World Order' and the Search for Enemies: Does Peace Have a Chance?", the forum was held two years after the U.S. 1989-90 Christmas-New Year assault on Panama and one year after the U.S. January 1991 assault on Iraq. This talk has the dubious distinction of containing the first graphic on this website.

2. On Pigs and Paupers. An open letter I wrote on March 10, 1998, contrasting the bloated pay of some administrators and the pauper status of some part-timers, and connecting greed with ecological catastrophe. The Mass Media published it in the issue of March 26, 1998. I added two minor notes of clarification (in paragraphs 1 and 2) on 3/15/98.

3. Is Greed All That's Wrong With Capitalism? Contrary to my belief that greed is a fundamental problem, "the greatest threat", I called it, is James's viewpoint in which the fundamental problem is capitalism. This essay argues in favor of his position.

4. Greed 001, "Salary Levels Need to be Justifiable", the Mass Media article of 3-27-97, by Christopher Janke, on Prof. Leon Zurawicki's complaint against unfairly high salaries of former administrators when they return to their prior teaching positions.

5. Greed 101, Teaching greed, on inculcating the institutionalization of greed, both locally and globally. Original unexpurgated version of the opinion piece published in the April 24, 1997 issue of the Mass Media.

6. Greed 102, Screwing the Students and Part-Time Faculty, on the arithmetic of UMB administrators' greed. Original version of the opinion piece published in the Summer 1997 issue of the Mass Media.

7. Greed 103, Teaching Hierarchy, teaching the students their place--at the bottom of the academic hierarchy. This opinion piece was published in the August 28, 1997 issue of the Mass Media.

8. Greed 104, More on Hierarchy, from the over-$100,000/yr "machers" to the real bottom, the contract cleaning crew. This piece was published in the September 4, 1997 issue of The Mass Media.

9. Greed 105, Getting Rid of Tenure, only partially written.

10. The Greedy Dean correspondence documents my dispute with Christine Armett-Kibel, dean of sciences, on the issue of my pay as a part-time faculty member, which I was at the time. She claimed it was generous; I considered it niggardly, consistent with the policy of exploiting part-timers. In addition to the letters we exchanged, there are two related items on Annual Faculty Reports.

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Last update of this screen January 23, 2004