Monday, February 2, 2009

Take what you need...

Oh boy... it's been hectic three weeks at work and no time to blog... Anyway, now things have settled down a bit at work and so here I am to blog. During the three weeks I have been following the news around the world and came across so many incidents about which I want to write but the list was too big that I decided to write about one issue that is affecting the globe as a whole and the root cause of that.

I recently went to my doctor's office for my annual health check up. While I was waiting in the doctor's office I saw few posters posted/nailed in the office wall. Since this being the flu season here most of them were related to information about flu and what are the symptoms and ways to prevent them. One of the posters caught my attention. It had the title "Take what you need...". I went through it and it was primarily focusing on getting the patient's attention to know that flu is caused by virus and so if you take antibiotics no purpose is served as antibiotics are meant to kill bacterial infections and not viral. I thought that the title was apt in terms of making people realize that you take what you need i.e., flu shots (injections) and not antibiotics.

Isn't it that the title is simple, straight forward and obvious to the point that they want to convey! At this time, my mind decided to compare this statement to what has been going on with the global economic crisis. Had a few men in Wall Street realized what they need as compared what they took, in terms of dollars, today we would not be facing this global economic crisis. It's just that a few men thought that they need to feed their own greed as opposed to try and weed out the greed form the organization, that we are facing the economic crisis that is affecting every hard working family across the globe.

Is it sooo difficult for one to decide how much money does one need or is it just that the open ended nature of the statement that people take greed as what they need to survive. I understand that everybody needs some extra cash in their savings account for those rainy days but the way these Wall Street executives gave bonuses to themselves in millions and billions of dollars while the regular employee is left with just his salary is ridiculous. Recently president Obama blasted these executives for shamelessly giving bonuses worth $18 Billion while they begged the govt to bail them out with tax payer's money. Isn't it that the behavior of these thick skinned executives atrocious... I don't know if there is a better word to describe these guys.

To top it all came, pretty much in close heels, the Bernie Madoff $50 Billion "Ponzi scheme" scandal in US and the Satyam fiasco in India. Both being the largest one's in their respective categories. First one being the largest investment related fraud in US history and second one being the largest corporate fraud in India's history. Both Bernie and Raju (Satyam) had betrayed the trust and confidence that people had in them.

When it came to investments, Bernie essentially misled and cheated people who trusted him and other to whom they passed on that trust and so on. When Bernie confessed about his Ponzi scheme he not only let down people close to him but a huge network of people who all thought that since their friends whom they trust are the ones who are recommending Bernie it should be a safe investment. And this network includes everyday people like you and me who sweat it out daily to make ends meet and pay bills. There was a finding by FBI sleuths that when they went to Bernie's office after his arrest there were checks worth $170 million in his office desk all written out to his family members. Bernie confessed that he has been running his ponzi scheme for nearly 2 decades and that he OWNS 5 houses including a penthouse in New York city. Essentially all these years he has been running a big time/high end BEGGING business by cheating millions of people and what he claims as he owns is not really his but purchased with other people's money. I really do not see much of a difference between this guy and the guy on the street who mugs for money. To me cheating a person who trusted you with life's savings is a bigger crime than mugging. Greed for money has eaten this guy and along with him others who trusted him.

Raju from Satyam Computer Services in India went about his greed by misrepresenting the company facts in audit books and thereby fooling an entire nation into believing that Satyam was the fourth largest software exporter in India. In reality, it looks like it was not. Raju on top of playing with the audit books channeled and re-routed the money earned thru Satyam to namesake companies started by his family members and got it into his pocket. Here again, Raju has fooled all Satyam shareholders for his personal gain though he claims he did not have any financial gain out of this fraud. But investigations so far seem to be pointing the other way.

The point here is when does one realize that he has what he needs and there is no need to be greed or is it that always greed is the need of the hour. I have always preferred a capitalist economy than a socialist one. But capitalism by cheating millions of people is not good. If you have a good idea and you make millions legally and in that process you help a few thousand people that's great. But claiming that you are a capitalist and cheat others to feed your greed for money, then to me you do not even deserve to be called a human.

I know no matter what one may think or write about all the financial scams that have been repeatedly hitting the headlines globally man's greed for money will never cease to exist as the need for greed has probably been around ever since man's existence. Take what you need but know what you need in the first place.

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