Greed (the book; a review by R. Michael Winters)

Titlepagetm1_3 People panic.

Yes. After I do a workshop on our food system and the increasing consolidation of agriculture by a small number of giant companies, people realize how deeply rooted the problem is in our institutions and politics, and they become terribly anxious.

"How could this be?" "In a democracy?!" 

Unfortunately, the facts of this takeover of the food system by a Titlepagetm2_2relatively small number of giant companies has been well-documented by the Revolving Door Working Group and Agribusiness Accountability Initiative. Certainly, responding to the abuses and strengthening the alternatives are needed, but we can also work on the underlying causes by looking inside ourselves.

Greed and envy.

Who can say they have none?

Titlepagetm25_2While revamping an unjust global food system is a decades-long struggle, every day, in our thoughts and in each interaction, we can practice the antidote to greed–generosity–the authentic generosity that comes from faith in God or simply from having nothing to fear.

While I haven’t read it yet, one of our Advisory Committee members highly recommends the book, Greed, which looks at the human and social dimensions of this hindrance. His review follows:

Greed:  Economics and Ethics in Conflict.  By James M. Childs, Jr.

Dr. Childs, professor of theology and ethics at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH addresses corporate responsibility in his concise and accessible book.  Published in 2000, it is a fresh, relevant, and compelling analysis of the vast gulf between the rich and the poor.  Child’s conviction is simply that the Christian witness must address this terrorizing inequity. 

One theme is particularly pointed, and that is with regard to corporate responsibility.  No holds barred here:  the unconsicionable salaries of CEO’s, the corporate mentality that profits are all that matter. . . .  Childs insists that corporations must be good citizens.  It is his contention that there are values even more important than shareholder profits. 

He advocates a "stakeholder capitalism."  In this system, corporations recognize the interests of stakeholders:  employees, environment, jobs, and others.  Corporations which do not address stakeholders claims are pariahs of greed (my interpretation). 

Child’s voice, however, is not angry, but passionate and pastoral.  I came to understand that what I can so easily call evil, I first must assume that it is simply the inability to see.  And who of us can say that we have not benefited from or practiced injustice – unintentionally – just because we didn’t know? 

The Christian witness then is vitally important, if for no other reason than to be a moral economic compass.  Childs includes also the remedy – the way Christians can redress the evils of shareholder capitalism.

A thriller that will grasp the conscionable heart and make the impossible seem possible.  This book is for the faithful who dream of God’s kingdom breaking in and setting up shop.

R. Michael Winters

P.S. The graphics are from the Meatrix video and sequels, which you can view online.