Chris Brinton: Injunction against covetousness forces us to live balanced lives

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    Our system works as long as there is honesty and integrity. When we reach a point where we all can see how unbalanced everything is, it is time to think about what is right. Just because we can legally do something, doesn't mean we should! It is reaching a point where many people are not being treated like they should. Just because someone doesn't have money, doesn't mean that they are lazy. People are not bad just because they are rich. People on both sides take advantage! I do have a cousin that I grew up with that has never wanted to work her entire life! When we had to work in the orchards as kids, she would sit down and wine after an hour. She wouldn't work the rest of the day and expected to get the same money as the rest of us! As an adult, she is worse! Even family members run from her because all she wants is to sponge money! I think, that when we truly care about others, much of the coveting disappears. We find ways to make things fair and we help those who truly need it.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    April 15, 2014 4:00 p.m.

    Re: "Is the desire for accumulation and profit covetousness? The writers of the ten commandments never anticipated the world in which we live."

    Actually, the Writer of the Ten Commandments perfectly anticipated the world in which we live.

    "Covetous" is a well-defined English word with a near-universally accepted meaning -- "having or showing a great desire to possess something, typically belonging to someone else." So, suggesting that "accumulation" now somehow now shares its meaning with "covetous" is simply corruption of language for political purpose. Like calling a marxist nation "Democratic Republic of . . . ."

    In other words, newspeak.

    By the way, Orwell's anti-stalinist Animal Farm foreshadows the inevitable outcome of this line of reasoning -- "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 15, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    @Ultra Bob,
    RE: "The vast majority of people spend, use all their money and do not have any money laying around waiting for new and better products""...

    So where did all those millions of people who already had cell phones come up with the money to buy iPhones?

    And where do they get the money to buy each new one as it comes out?

    Even most "poor" people, even most kids without jobs... have an iPhone now days.


    If nobody has any unused money... were did millions of people get money to buy iPods and iPads when they came out (obviously they found the money).


    I'm just saying... you don't have to import new people to create new customers or consumers of your new product or services... it's better to grow the pie... not just shift it.

    It doesn't have to be a zero-sum thing. When you innovate... people who didn't have or want what you invented now want it (whalla... new customers from the same people)...

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 15, 2014 11:06 a.m.

    Herewith some Marxist theory to see if it can explain covetousness:

    For working class people the economic flow is C-M-C. Such sell their labor, first C to get money M to buy commodities with which to survive, the second C. This is essentially steady state, there is no accumulation.

    For capitalists the flow is M-C-M'. Where the first M is an accumulation of Money. This is invested to buy machinery or increase inventories, C. The goal is to create M', which is equal to the original M plus an increment. This increment is profit. Here we have accumulation.

    Is the desire for accumulation and profit covetousness? The writers of the ten commandments never anticipated the world in which we live.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 15, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    2 bits.

    The vast majority of people spend, use all their money and do not have any money laying around waiting for new and better products. When a new and better product comes into their lives they will switch their buying from the old to the new. The won't buy both. Cell phones are so important to my family that every other thing suffers by having less money, even food.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    April 15, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    Re: ". . . I wonder if the writer would consider a CEO pay package in excess of $20 million per year to be evidence of covetousness."

    To quote the fount of all wisdom and knowledge -- The Princess Bride -- "You keep using that word [covetousness]. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    Whatever the size of a CEO's package [certainly no double entendre there], covetousness arises from those who see it and want it, or, in the proud marxian tradition, to make sure no one else can have it.

    Not from anything inherent in the package, itself.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    April 15, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    I love this writer. He turns the absolute prohibition on covetousness into "don't take it too far." With this philosophy, we could all steal, skill and commit adultery as long as we do so in a "balanced" way.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:05 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,
    Possibly a new concept for you anti-business guys. Creating new customers doesn't mean creating new people. It means attracting people to your product or service that may have not been interested before.

    Like the iPhone. People who didn't want a cell phone before entered the market, more people wanted them. Other phone makers picked up their game too. And their business didn't suffer, it increased along with Apple's (Samsung, android technology, etc).

    Companies like Send Out Cards (in Utah).. didn't take customers from Hallmark Cards, etc, as these companies worried they may do at first, they made the pie bigger (people who didn't send cards before started sending them, and people who only sent a few each year started sending a lot).

    Things like that. It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game.... You have to try to grow the pie (the customer base) by attracting people to your product or service that weren't in the market for it before.

    Whether they use a credit card or not is up to them (not me).

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    April 14, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    Coveting is not the same as greed. Greed says, "I want A Ferrari" while coveting says, "I want YOUR Ferrari."

    Greed only cares about himself and can't even imagine any other motivation even though there are millions of people working for combinations of motivators.

    Wall Street only understands greed and right now they are just trying to get as much as they can before the next collapse they cause. They take greed even farther by making sure others won't be able to achieve anything behind them.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    April 14, 2014 4:43 p.m.

    The 10th Commandment has a fair degree of correlation with Envy (of the 7 deadly sins).

    In 21st Century America, it could equate to its a sin to "Keep up with the Jones'"

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2014 3:54 p.m.

    2 bits.

    When you say "You can create new customers", where do they come from? Do you import them. Do the current customers get a raise in pay that makes them buy something else with there money, in addition to the things they already are buying? Do people still buy buggy whips?

    Perhaps they just borrow more money on their Credit Card. And wind up not being able to buy the things they should.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    In the natural world our bodies tell us of the things we need to do to prolong and make pleasant our life. When we need more oxygen, we breath harder. When we thirst, we want water. When hungry we eat. All of the things our body tells us is for our betterment. Given that God created us so, why would he burden us with desires and wants that do us harm?

    The Ten Commandments, purportedly given by God, are mostly negative to the natural body needs and wants and involve things not to do to make us better.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    As seen through the eyes of the non-believer, the only commandment given to life is the commandment to survive. That's because it is the only main overriding drive visible to us in the real world. To covet is to seek the better way and is thus the built in desire to survive by seeking the best.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2014 1:51 p.m.

    RE: "But what does it mean to win"?

    The beauty of "business" is... it's not a zero-sum game.

    Meaning somebody else doesn't have to fail for you to win (so no coveting needed)

    You don't have to take away somebody else's customers to be successful. You can create new customers.

    When Apple came out with the iPod some thought it would destroy the music industry... but it didn't, it actually grew it.

    When they invented the iPhone... some thought it would destroy other cell phone companies. But it didn't. All cell phone companies have grown since then (not just Apple).

    When they invented the iPad some thought the PC industry was over (instead they BOTH grew).

    Starting UPS/Fedex/etc didn't steal somebody's slice of the pie... the whole pie grew.

    You don't have to destroy the competition to win.... you have to invent.

    Inventing creates NEW customers (It doesn't steal somebody else's customers). Innovators focus on growing the whole pie... not just taking somebody elses slice of the old pie...

    Covetous people/companies are like the dog with the bone that sees his reflection in the water...

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 14, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    airnaut. Obviously you have never run a business. Competition drives creativity which increases invention, production and generates prosperity! If that were not true, 3rd world nations would all be rich, but they are not.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    It's thought crime. You can be convicted by this commandment of thought crime.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    I think we all know people who spend 5 or 6 days "coveting" things in their career or business then go to church on Sunday to ask for forgiveness. The most honorable, decent people I have known in my life spend 7 days a week coveting nothing and done it without the need for organized religon.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 14, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    Not necessarily true.

    Businesses are not simply satisfied with current business.
    They see the entire market,
    they see the potential of growth,
    and then plan and seek to monopolize a;; of it.

    i.e., Covet the sales and business of competing businesses.

    it's not diven by "sharing",
    it's driven by greed and envy.

    I'm not only not going to give MY busiesses to others,
    quite the contrary,
    I'm going to do everything in my power to take and steal your business away from you.

    Hence --
    breaking the 10th commandment.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    April 14, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    Boy, this is a lot of works to say that you should work hard, be ethical, and try to find a balance between work, and your personal life.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 14, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    Marxist. I think you overlook that class warfare, a powerful tactic of the left, is an excellent example of covetousness.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 1:07 a.m.

    To try to get real here, I wonder if the writer would consider a CEO pay package in excess of $20 million per year to be evidence of covetousness. You see the 10th commandment just doesn't translate into contemporary capitalism.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 1:00 a.m.

    The exact wording as per the King James version is
    "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, ... nor any thing that is thy neighbor's." This is instruction for a group of people on mostly the same level as to wealth and power. As such it is good advice.

    The writer tries to bring this principle into the modern world, and I don't think it really works. I think what he's saying is: "when material desire gets extreme then that is covetousness." It doesn't work for me. In the modern capitalist system the drive to maximize profit is visceral. It's like "maximize profits or die." So we have the wholesale offshoring of jobs to take advantage of super low wages and poor working conditions. This is devastating to both the foreign labor exploited and domestic labor which is out of work, often permanently as far as desirable work. This doesn't fit into the tenth commandment.