We live in an era when everything seems to have a diagnosis. And while some of these diagnosis’s represent meaningful medical progress–some seem a little far fetched and over-used. We have a diagnosis for itchy children who don’t pay attention in school. We have a diagnosis for people who choose not to eat in order to become too thin. We have a diagnosis for old white men who can’t get it up in the sack. In Sweden they went so far as to declare homosexuality a diagnosable disease–only to have the entire nation call-in sick to work the following morning. We’ve got a diagnosis for nearly everything, but do we have one for greed? And is there a cure? Can the greedy be helped? Can they be trusted to help themselves? You bet they can–to every last dime in your pocket–especially here in capitalist America.
When does greed set in? I’m a bad example because I had a tendency to give away my toys as a child. But I suspect greed fully manifests itself in unmistakable ways by the time one reaches middle-school, only to fully ripen by middle-age.
Greed is fear driven–the fear that obscene abundance still might not be enough to tide one over. I also suspect that greed is somehow linked to the fear of dying–as if amassing an endless accumulation of whatever the greedy feel a need for, will in one way or another fool mortality. You don’t have to be smart to be greedy–take Donald Trump for example: he’s dumb as a clam, but he has one of everything in every color. Meanwhile monetary success often eludes brighter individuals of a much higher moral stature than specimens like “The” Donald. Success is relative, leaving each individual to carve-out his or her own personal definition. Greed, on the other hand is pretty difficult to miss. When you see greed at work–it’s right there in your face.
Economic disparity in America hasn’t been this bad since the days of the robber barons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And today’s robber barons have no compunction about accepting federal subsidies paid by U.S. taxpayers, and then shipping American jobs overseas for the sake of a shortsighted bottom line using third world labor–only to wonder why sales figures here at home are down. It’s very simple: Americans can’t afford to buy the products these corporations offer–because WE haven’t economically recovered–only Wall Street has.
It is speculated that the collective yearly interest earnings of the United States’ upper two percent exceeds the entire collective wealth of the working American poor and lower middle-class combined. That is not a recipe for national prosperity, and it’s forcing more and more people out of the middle-class. What the greedy don’t quite grasp, is the middle-class is the buffer zone between the rich and an uncontrollable angry mob. If you don’t want the numbers in that the mob to swell, then quell the masses with a share of the wealth. Stockpiled money sitting in offshore bank accounts doing nothing but earning interest for a select few isn’t particularly helpful to the national economy.
Sometimes I wonder if the uber-wealthy fail to possess normal human compassion? There’s been a lot of talk about how insulated they are–and how that insulation leaves the rich unable to relate to anyone in circumstances different from their own. (Poor things.) That would imply that a vast number of the wealthy don’t have human emotions such as empathy for example. The world is indeed rosy from an ivory tower. But what excuse do people like Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot use as a justification for greed? He dug ditches and worked hard to achieve success–but has success rendered him so narcissistic that he thinks he’s the only person in the world who ever worked hard? Langone, like his fellow tycoon, Tom Perkins equate the masses need for a living wage to be tantamount to a Fascist uprising. Here is what Langone said about the Occupy Wall Street Movement: “I hope it’s not working, because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” News flash dickhead–“different words” have different meanings, and you’re not grasping the definitions. I don’t envy people like Langone or Perkins. I pity them. They’re incomplete as human beings, lacking genuine human caring.
Is it possible in the rarefied and cloistered environment of the super-rich that everyone else who worked hard simply didn’t work hard enough? By that logic every hardworking person in the world would own a corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange–if only they’d applied themselves. Or maybe the other ditch diggers working along side Ken Langone merely dug themselves in a bit too deep and couldn’t escape through some failure of their own? In conclusion after an exhaustive and fruitless search on Google for a medical diagnosis for greed, I found nothing useful. (Vampire Syndrome turned out to already be taken for a condition that causes a blueish skin tone.) I welcome reader input for diagnostic name suggestions. But for the moment the following term will have to do: Gluttonously Repulsive Elite Egomaniacal Dimwititis–or GREED.
– Disassociated Press, 3/27/2014