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Greed is awesome

With the collapse of Enron, Global Crossing, and Arthur Anderson, and the imminent dethroning of WorldCom and to a lesser degree Xerox, greed has been concluded as still being the best way to make quick money, and the surest thing to land one in jail.<br>
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Is greed really good, as Gekko told us in his witty speech? Is greed good for everyone? Greed for life, perhaps universally agreeable. But greedy for the sake of being greedy, is that too much greed? Or just a desperate attempt to establish oneself in an increasingly competitive non-free market.<br>
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Ask oneself honestly, without reservations: what is the fundamental difference between a bum and an executive? Is the bum dumb? Or is he retarded (which means dumb)? Is he less competent? Or is he simply uneducated? Which in turn is caused by the simple problem of lack of opportunity. It's not luck, or IQ, or even money. What makes money is the ability to push away competitors to make more room for oneself to live. And that's where greediness helps. 51% of market share is simply not good enough. One wants 100% of the current market, and 100% of that other company's market. And there is no limit to the want of a greedy individual. That's how Microsoft towers above its competitors because through its greed for market dominance, its greed for fame, and its greed for power, plus its exec's greed for money, it forced itself to be second to none. If there is a competitor, even a tiny one, the rational response of greed is to quash the little guy and swallow the market share, however obscure.<br>
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That's how Microsoft became a success story. That's how Gates became the most enviable businessman. That's how they got indicted.<br>
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But is wanting to get ahead a crime? Is wanting to get ahead at others' expense a crime? If so, what is not a crime? By simply holding a job, the employee denies another similarly-qualified job-seeker a chance at making money. Is that immoral, or even criminal? Should the market revert to communism where everyone makes money, however little, and however little they have contributed to the overall economy? Is that more moral?<br>
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The evolutionary instinct of people is to make themselves the best of the breed, and to protect their belongings. Those natural instincts lead to laws for auditing and against insider trading and stock manipulation. These measures are meant to protect the outsiders and institute fairness for all.<br>
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These laws ignore one fact: that life is not fair. Laws will not make it less so. However many laws there are, people will still cheat their way through the economy. Students plagiarize to get great marks, factories violate patents to produce cheap goods, users download DVDs for free.<br>
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These are free market forces. People who try to preserve or to add to their wealth while helping to destroy others'. Although those three greedy acts are illegal, their antibodies are no less greedy. Fellow students report plagiarism in order to eliminate their competition, professors give zero marks to those cheaters to preserve their and their institution's reputation. Patent holders go through the court system to demand loyalties and outrageous compensation packages. Movie producers sue and introduce eloborate encryption systems to preserve their wealth and to ensure the continuity of their enormous cash flow.<br>
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In other words, greed fights itself. Greed may be a bad word, but it is what has been the best supporter of the free market. Besides, greed is what makes people want to innovate, to think, to know. The smell of newly cut paper bills and the thought of showering in hard currency are the things that led to the countless patents and copyrights that appear each year. Also, the greed to learn and to explore created such famous scientists as Einstein and engineers such as the Wright brothers. It is, after all, the American Dream, the single-minded pursuit of wealth, the power of greed, that ultimately made Rockefeller an eternal American icon of success.<br>

September 26 2002

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