Greed in Our Time – The Powerful Are Getting Away With Too Much

  • Since human beings first walked on earth, there have been greedy individuals and groups who have stolen food, possessions and whatever they could from vulnerable human beings.
  • In our time this type of theft has continued and has become even more prevelant and even more subtle and sophisticated.
  • It is time to stop these powerful, unscrupulous individuals and groups from being able to blatantly steal from less powerful and less affluent citizens in our society.
  • It is imperative now that we make laws that will have more oversight and higher accountability over those forces in our society that are lawless and greedy.

“Greed is Good!”–from the movie Wall Street (1987)

More than 2,000 years ago the wise and famous scholar Hillel wrote “If I am not for myself who will be for me. If I am only for myself, what am I?”

Recently there have been people and corporations in the news who have been only for themselves with no regard for the damage their greed has done to others. This list includes schemers like Bernie Madoff, many bankers, unscrupulous insurance companies, dictators, and politicians whose only goal is to accumulate vast amounts of money. For these groups of people it is no longer about being more secure or supporting their families. It’s about unlimited accumulation.

The Madoff investment scandal was a major case of stock and securities fraud discovered in late 2008. In December of that year, Bernie Madoff, the former NASDAQ Chairman and founder of the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, admitted that the wealth management arm of his business was an elaborate multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Greed is rapidly becoming an illness and an addiction as deadly as drugs. If this were an individual addiction we would not need to examine so closely what is happening, but when so many of these individuals and large corporations steal money that rightfully belongs to other people then it becomes legalized theft. We all can see how someone like Madoff stole from others, but it is harder to determine when insurance companies charge higher premiums than they should or bankers higher rates than they should or when politicians take money from corporations to vote for legislation which denies ordinary citizens their lawful rights. These individual and corporate actions are just as much a theft as a criminal robbing a bank. When a dictator or leader steals from his people more money than he will ever be able to use in many lifetimes, than we need to look at what drives these greedy people to do what they do.

Why do these enormously rich people continue to steal? There is a subconscious drive that impels them to search for more and more power to enhance their self-esteem and to gain the admiration of others. Often it is the only way that they can feel admired and loved and this neurotic need often originates in an underlying feeling of low self-esteem. Corporate stealing is all about making the most money that’s possible without regard to injuries this may cause to others. Even our own societal values contribute to these neurotic drives of individuals and corporations for more power and money because most of us still admire and pay homage to those who are rich, and we don’t always question or even care about how they earned it. So we too become a part of this worldwide illness. How can we begin to curb these greedy people from stealing from us all? We must of course watch them much more carefully and hold those who steal to a higher accountability. We must also build a new value system that does not admire those who become rich at the expense of others.

How different the world would be for all of us if the following wise words became the universal mantra for a better and more just society:

If I am not for myself who will be for me. If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?

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June Stepansky

June Stepansky is a published writer and poet who writes books and articles about happiness, self-improvement and social and political issues


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