“Greed feeds the worst aspects of the human psyche and is ultimately always destructive.”

“Capitalism that isn’t heavily constrained by society to mitigate its worst excesses is extremely damaging and erodes and destroys societies and their democratic systems” said Roxie. “The small number of people in today’s global society who now control most of the world’s wealth feel no loyalty to the billions of people that they continue to exploit to get this wealth.”

“How does this help me in my quest for new meaning and purpose in my life” asked Vanessa.

“The important lesson here is that you will never find a true purpose through the pursuit of greed” replied Roxie. “Greed feeds the worst aspects of the human psyche and is ultimately always destructive. This is because the pursuit of greed also requires the suspension of empathy and compassion for anyone else. There is always an opportunity cost with greed paid for by somebody else but ultimately the biggest cost is the damage done to the person who is seduced by it. What do we call a person who lacks compassion and empathy Vanessa?”

“An investment banker” laughed Vanessa as she mocked herself. “

“Funnily enough banking is one industry that is recognised to hold a disproportionately high number of these people.”

“Go on Roxie, I give up” said Vanessa.

“They are called psychopaths or sociopaths if you prefer” replied Roxie. “The characteristics of a psychopath are of someone who is full of their own self-importance. They lack empathy and compassion for others and can’t identify with the hurt that they cause to other people. They are prone to pathological lying and manipulation and are often parasitic, preying on others for their own benefit. Above all they never accept responsibility for their actions or the harm that they have caused and feel no guilt or remorse. Sociopaths can cause terrible damage.”

“I have never thought of it in those terms before” reflected Vanessa. “Are you are saying that the pursuit of greed for greed’s sake is comparable to the action of a psychopath or sociopath?”

“How could it be otherwise?” said Roxie. “The opportunity costs of someone hoarding vast amounts of wealth are absolutely immense. We are moving towards a world where approximately one hundred people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Only a psychopath could calmly observe billions of people suffer terrible hardship, early death and deprivation and feel absolutely no guilt or obligation towards those people. Relatively few psychopaths actually turn into pathological killers in a direct sense but in a way these are the ones we should be less afraid of. A serial killer may kill tens of people before they are caught and locked away. The actions of those who systematically plot to extract the wealth from the world’s societies kill millions through lack of healthcare, malnutrition and a host of other associated social evils.”