There is a lot of talk about greed these days. It’s all over social media and in our streets. Typically the fingers are always pointed at two main culprits: the wealthy and corporations. To be sure, there is greed in those high-flying realms but is it unique to them alone? I don’t believe so. In fact, I believe that greed is far more universal than we want to admit and it comes in many shapes and sizes.
Since starting this blog, I’ve devoted a fair amount of time to trying to learn about things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), HTML, online advertising and promotion. I have managed to learn a few things but it’s tough sledding sometimes and made all the more difficult by the overwhelming number of people out there offering to teach people like me how to turn my web site in to a mega-cash generator.
Forget email scams, the Great Cloud is littered with a proliferation of sites offering instant financial wealth, immediate cash, overwhelming traffic and site visitors, daily payouts and free money all for no effort, no knowledge or experience. They all share one thing in common. They all offer something for nothing in their attempt to make money for themselves.
I’ve actually seen promotions offering to increase your traffic, and thereby your sales income, and you don’t even have to have a web site. Just stretch out on the couch with your Dell notebook or iPad, start clicking and the money will roll in faster than you can count it.
These offers do make money….for the people behind them…..because the world is full of people looking for something for nothing or next to nothing. It is the secret behind the success of those email scams from Nigeria.
“Free money? You betcha, where do I sign up?”
Some sites have the secret to winning the lottery and they will share it with you for only a small one-time fee. It never seems to occur to the people who pay for the instant-riches system that if the system really worked, the seller wouldn’t be online offering it for sale. He or she would be too busy cashing in winning lottery tickets. Why would anyone who had a ‘secret’ system that consistently won money in the lottery want to share it?
But many people buy-in because they want to make easy money, lots of money and that is its own form of greed.
You encounter it everywhere now. Students are demanding others subsidize or even pay for their university education because they don’t feel it’s fair that they should have to shoulder the burden of earning the degree they are pursuing. Expecting others to pay your way is just another form of greed.
Hundreds of thousands audition for programs like American Idol, not so that they can advance their art but to feed a form of greed to be famous, to become a celebrity.
Unions have priced some jobs right out of the country with their continuous demands for higher wages and more benefits for their workers. Corporate executives demand and receive obscene levels of income and kids who can develop a social media web site become billionaires and start playing Monopoly with real money.
Black Friday is the ultimate expression of greed as hundreds of thousands of consumers line up and then push and shove each other out of the way to grab ‘deals’. This past year, one woman went so far as to pepper spray other shoppers in her greed to get what she wanted while another woman was robbed of her purchases before she made it to her car.
Even politicians are willing to sacrifice principle and integrity to get what they want as we have just seen in Ontario, where the premier reversed his election promise not to add a surtax on the rich to avoid having his government defeated. In the United States, President Obama has all but turned class warfare into an election strategy.
It is just another form of greed where power is the currency rather than cash.
Some blame capitalism but I believe they’re wrong. Capitalism is merely a system of free enterprise which is based on the assumption that hard work will bring its own rewards and that everyone should be free to experience that opportunity.
What interferes with successful capitalism is the all too frequent greed in human nature. Too many feel they don’t have the opportunity so they either attack the freedom of capitalism or pursue countless get-rich quick schemes that seldom work for anyone but the people selling them.
Greed drives people looking for an edge and who are willing to bend or break the rules as we saw recently with the Wal-mart bribery scandal in Mexico. It drives others who are only too willing to nickel and dime even the poor as we saw in the recent Ontario budget that froze social assistance payments in order to reduce the deficit rather than cut discretionary and unnecessary program spending. It was interesting to me that that the minority NDP which held the balance of power and which could have defeated the government by voting against the budget, chose not to speak up for the poor.
Instead they demanded, and got, a surtax on those making more than $500,000 (one of their convenient and favourite targets) and they left the poor to fend for themselves. Making the reversal of the social assistance freeze a non-negotiable demand they knew was something to which the Liberals would never have agreed and that would have triggered an election; an election the NDP cannot afford or win.
Putting your own self-interest ahead of what’s right in order to protect or gain something is yet another form of greed.
Small business, big corporations, online get rich quick schemes, students, unions, politicians, email scams, Ponzi schemes, continuous tax increases, ludicrous credit card rates and ridiculous fees for everything from receiving bank statements to using your debit card are all driven by greed.
I have no issue with people earning a living. In fact, I have no issue with people becoming fabulously wealthy. Power to you if you can pull it off! It gives the rest of us hope that it is possible. But when that success, great or modest, comes at the expense of others, then it is immoral and nothing less than the worst side of human nature. It is profiteering and that is nothing but greed.
Contrary to what Gordon Gheko preached, greed is not good. It blurs the lines between right and wrong, moral and immoral. It undermines the success of many for the benefit of a few and it weakens the productivity and creativity of societies.