Foundation of Bankruptcy
by Stan Moore
May 24, 2003
A proverb of the Holy Bible says that one who is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent. And human history is replete with stories of those who have sacrificed scruples, morals, legality, and innocence in their endeavors to gain financial riches.
It certainly is possible, especially in the modern era, to attain substantial wealth while maintaining integrity. One can create a much-desired "widget", write a popular song or sell a best-selling book and make enormous profits. Even some very scrupled social activists have done so, with a prime example being Ralph Nader, who wrote best selling books on consumer advocacy issues and who has continued in his career of activism.
On the other hand, there are those who have made the pursuit of riches and the pursuit of power associated with riches their life calling, and in the process they have abandoned morals; they became morally bankrupt while becoming financially super-wealthy. American captains of industry in the early days of the industrial era were called "robber barons" because they often acted in criminal ways to gain power and wealth.
One tell-tale sign of bankruptcy in business is the taking of actions to eliminate competition by illegal or unscrupulous means. A great songwriter does not need to stifle other songwriters to make his money. But a computer software inventor might. A computer or internet technology inventor/marketer may decide that he has to package his systems so as to prevent entry to the market by competitors, even engaging in illegal anti-trust behaviors so as to keep all the business and all the profits for his own company,
We saw similar tactics in the oil industry, the telephone/communications industry, the automobile industry, and increasingly in the businesses associated with internet and wireless communications. Companies are not satisfied with market share and obscene wealth. They continue to discard scruples and morals by illegally "cooking" their books, paying for influence from corrupt politicians, and doing whatever it takes to stay on top.
The American nation has a history of throwing away morals in the pursuit of corporate profits. On talk radio this week, reference was made to a book written decades ago by a retired general of the U.S. Marine Corps about the role of the military in establishing corporate dominance by U.S. corporations in Latin America. He viewed it as the job of the U.S. military to do whatever it took to suppress democratic self-governance by Latin American citizens in their home countries so that U.S. corporations could have dominance of resources and land, at the expense of local lives and welfare. Many, many world citizens without money and power have lost their lives or been driven to utter destitution so that American corporations could make huge profits in the "Third World". This creates financial wealth on a foundation of moral bankruptcy.
The American people have become so obsessed with wealth that essentially all value systems are related to dollars and cents. Commercial movie success is related to total gross monetary income and not quality or even numbers of tickets sold. It seems amazing that movies would be compared based on dollar income, when movies that were produced years ago were attended by viewers paying far lower ticket prices. So, "Star Wars" may have cost $4.00 per ticket to attend, and the new hits may cost $9.00 or more to attend.
Thus income does not tell an accurate story of movie popularity, but remains the method of judging movie success by the industry. This is a sign of skewed priorities, at bare minimum.
American daytime television entertainment is filled with "game shows" with incessant commercialism and frantically excited citizens vying for cash prizes or merchandise. One would think that these contestants had never seen an automobile or a can of soup or whatever the prizes might be. People literally work themselves into a frenzy over the thought of getting something for nothing -- of winning a prize of any sort. It seems pathetic that people are so oriented towards material things and place such intense value on merchandise, while earth's biodiversity crumbles in front of our very eyes, species head towards extinction, and no one seems to utter any outcry unless endangered species protections inconvenience them in some way, or limit their ability to carry out economic activity.
Everything is for sale. Everything has a price. You can go to E-Bay and buy almost anything. You can go to certain areas to purchase sexual favors, or you can go to a church and purchase forgiveness. You can go to a U.S. Senator and purchase favors for your business, but you had better have a very substantial gift for that senator if you wish to get your foot in the door! You can purchase insurance to make you "whole" in case some unforeseen disaster strikes. Or you can purchase cryogenic storage for your body or your brain so that your body or brain can be resuscitated in the indefinite future in the event that a cure become available one day for what killed you today.
Money can buy almost anything. But it cannot buy morality. It cannot buy integrity. It cannot buy honesty. And those are things our world is sorely missing today. We have build fantastic wealth in a society with a foundation of moral bankruptcy.
Stan Moore lives in San Geronimo, CA., and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org