A little while ago an editorial in the Times of India written by Jug Suriya titled - Growth and Greed started me thinking...
Prosperity that comes from the growth of good things, is not accompanied by fear of losing it, is not accompanied by a feeling of emptiness of something missing in ones life, is not accompanied by sickness originating from stress and frustration, is not accompanied by discontent and disillusionment, is not accompanied by desperation.
So then what are these good things we should strive to grow? The answer is capability, quality, productivity & capacity (as measured by the production not of more quantity but of quality), improvements and so on.
And what is bad prosperity? It is the prosperity that follows - growth driven by greed, growth built on waste, growth resulting from consuming more than required, growth built on envy and comparative competition, growth built on having rather than creating, growth built on taking rather than giving, growth build on wanting more for accomplishing less and less.
If fact such growth is not growth but wealth going around from one point to another and in the process eroding the sum total wealth. E.g. if a man acquires a larger house but loses his health in the process of working for it, he is on the whole poorer. If in building more assets of production (machinery) we pollute our rivers and dirty our cities, we have become poorer not richer.
A picture caught my eye in the news paper a few days ago – Two men were standing with a sign that read - 'Starving Billionaire'. This was a picture from Zimbabwe, where the local currency has almost completely lost it value. That's really what the paper money is worth - it cannot buy you even a loaf of bread, if, the value system around it have collapsed.