Some of the worst financial mistakes ever made were made on the premise of greed. Greed is the ugly monster that has reared its head in every political and humanitarian arena throughout history. From selling out for profit, to taking advantage of a bad situation, greed has been the downfall of mankind.
Consider those who take advantage of natural disasters and charitable events. Bob Geldof, musician, was trying to rig the U.K. charts in 1984 and had a plan to do so. Live Aid was born. Live Aid was a charitable organization to help with the Ethiopian famine, a wonderful charity he wanted to hold in New York City. There was a problem, New York was greedy and wanted to get paid. Geldof settled for Philadelphia. On July 13, 1985, more than 60 artists performed for a globalized concert held at JFK Stadium to 120 countries worldwide. It became the greatest charity event in music history and New York missed the boat (1).
What about those who took advantage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama? Many of those “charitable groups” and contractors are serving time in jail for their greed; not to mention the countless families they helped destroy. This brings criminals to the table. Greed has been the downfall of too many men and women, causing them to turn to a life of crime. Illegal gambling has become an obsession, lives have been lost and compromised simply for what cash was in their wallet, and families have been destroyed over fraud and forgery. In the September 2005 edition of Golf Magazine, the article, The Sneak Attacker, featured an anonymous man who played on the top 100 golf courses in America without paying. Greedy? Maybe yes, maybe no. His notoriety and the fee he was, I assume, paid by the magazine held little consequence to him when he boasted that he had committed over 100 thefts of service around America, all the while giving tips to others to commit the same crime. Perhaps this is a victimless crime, but as so quoted by his mother, “Wait until they find out you’re not part of their club!”. (2)
What about the downfall of the obsessed for greed? As fore-mentioned, gambling can destroy families, legal or illegal, wasting away hard earned money and some times government funds (social security checks and welfare).Also, what about the organizations spreading their own propaganda for unknown causes? Consider the 911 conspiracy theorist, Jimmy Walter, the founder of reopen911.org. Paying over $1 million dollars in ads on television and in the Times to promote the conspiracy that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks. I do not perceive to know Walter’s motives; perhaps he just strongly believes in his theory. My question is, why profit from it? He sells vast collections of DVD’s and tshirts from the site. Where does this money go? With all the hubbub, do these profits help victims or just spread more hate and fear and for what reason? (3)
Another conquest that could be considered a downfall is the search for lost treasure. Chicago business tycoon Bernard Keiser has poured a fortune into an island 400 miles off the coast of Chile, searching for $10 Billion dollars of lost treasure left by the Spanish captain Ubilla. In 1713, Ubilla stole some eight million pesos and supposedly hid them on this island. His Spanish empire was built on blood and slavery, forcing them to search for treasure, and mine for gold and jewels. (4) Why profit from blood money? What if treasure is not found? Millions have been spent to find billions that has supposedly been buried for centuries, and will probably be buried for centuries more.
Why is greed so difficult to get past? Is it the demand of society? The demand to fit into the norm, to “keep up with the Jone’s” is sometimes overwhelming and mankind will do what it takes to gain that financial high. From profiting on others misfortunes to blatantly boasting on how money or notoriety could be achieved by crime, man has been caught in the grips of greed, choked out by the immorality of it all.
(1) Blender Magazine, Things You Should Know about Live Aid, July 2005.
(2) Golf Magazine, The Sneak Attacker, September 2005.
(3) Maxim Magazine, What Really Brought Down the Towers, March 2006.
(4) Maxim Magazine, The Salesman, the Robot, and $10 Billion in Gold, June 2006.