Posted by Jay Livingston
Can you have too much sex? Yes, apparently. In the news this weekend, David Duchovny claims to be suffering from “sex addiction” and has just entered rehab. (Maybe it’s my age, but I think I might do an Amy Winehouse on this one and say no, no, no.) The Duchovny case history will no doubt be labeled “the x-rated files.” Or maybe it’s Californication as reality TV.
Lust, as we all know, is a deadly sin. Desire is all right, but lust is “too much of a good thing.” It distorts the proper proportions. But what about the other deadly sins? In case you forgot them, here are all seven:
- GreedHieronymous Bosch - The Seven Deadly Sins and the Last Four ThingsClick on the image for a larger view
No problem with sins one through six. We criticize ourselves or others for having too much sex, eating too much food, or lazily avoiding work. The same goes for the emotional sins. Some people need “anger management,” others need to curb their envy. We have a variety of negative words for those who are too proud – egotistical, narcissistic, conceited, etc.
With food, sex, self-esteem, relaxation, etc., we recognize that there are limits. But we give Greed a pass. Is it possible to have too much money? Apparently not. Those who amass more and more of it win the admiration of others, and as a society we do little to curb their passion. In fact, we encourage it, and not just with esteem; we grant it tangible rewards like tax breaks unavailable to those of lesser means. The tax code, especially in the Cheney-Bush administration, seems to have been written as an elaborate gloss on Gordon Gecko’s maxim “Greed is Good.”
The Seven Deadly Sins are sins because they distort the balance between the individual and the society. They all represent individual pleasures grown so large that they become detrimental to the society. But for some reason, when it comes to the unbridled pursuit of money, we don't see the sinfulness. We don't even see any downside in the imbalance.
For example, elsewhere in the news, Joe Nocera in the New York Times details how billionaire Carl Icahn gained control of XO Communications only to use the company’s financial woes as a way to enrich himself.
As chairman, he could have tried to have helped the company rebuild — or sold the company to someone who was interested in doing so. But that doesn’t really appear to have ever been his motive.It wasn’t easy, and Icahn met resistance, but through a combination of sneaky tricks and power, he got his way.
“Carl is very smart and acts very aggressively in his own self-interest,” said Robert Powell . . ., who has followed the XO shenanigans closely. “And if you get in the way of his self-interest, he will trample you.”Icahn is already a billionaire and has been for some time. I have no idea why he needs more money. Nevertheless, he wants to screw a company in order to add still more to his bank accounts.
Yet nobody ever suggests that the Icahns of this world check themselves into rehab.
Big hat tip to Philip Slater, author of Wealth Addiction. The title says it all.