Additional follow-up to my posts #23 and #36:
As I said:
No one denies that the concept of greed can carry some unfortunate connotations, but these [Kelley and Scott’s] statements struck me as dangerously close to an apology for unbridled ambition.
Unbridled ambition simply means that the individual is determined to make a lot of money. Why does that goal need to be justified by somebody’s standard of “achievement”? I think that suggests somebody is not comfortable with rational selfishness and material success—they feel the need to apologize for such wealth by citing accomplishment or "recognition" of the benefits they have provided to others.
What about the glamour model who makes $10,000 an hour? What is her 'achievement,' aside from being blessed with good genes? What about exceptionally beautiful actresses who are paid fortunes to do nude scenes? What about all the talented actors who make enormous sums working in mediocre horror films or doing slapstick comedies because they aren’t offered good scripts in today’s cultural cesspool? What about voice-over actors who are paid handsomely for doing silly commercials? Or the producers and directors who do slasher films or toothpaste commercials because they can’t get financing for better projects?
There are also a lot of well-paying jobs which involve enormous effort and/or skill but are also pretty tedious. Do plumbers, bricklayers and truck drivers have to see their boring jobs as “achievement” in order to feel that acquiring a lot of money is okay? What about beautiful women and handsome men who work as professional escorts (not prostitutes)? What about essentially frivolous but high-paying work: e.g., gossip columnists, paparazzi, professional wrestlers, etc.?
The examples of perfectly legitimate work that can be very profitable but may involve virtually nothing that can be seriously characterized as “achievement” are limitless. I am obviously not contending that such work is entirely devoid of creativity; investing mental effort can always add creative value to almost any enterprise. In fact, in many cases, creativity may be a major factor in its profitability. But few would describe the end result in these examples as constituting “achievement.”
It would be a mistake to confuse the virtue of productivity with career “achievement”—productiveness entails that the person use his/her mind creatively, but that creative mental activity may not be profitable and, therefore, may have nothing to do with their work. In today’s mixed economy, it is often not possible to find truly creative, well-paying work that yields genuine personal satisfaction or a sense of achievement.