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Excesses hold trademark of greed

Greed is mentioned often. Maybe we all have a touch of it. Did we ever take the biggest piece of pie and attempt to convince others we didn’t intentionally favor ourselves?

That low level of greed is not my point in writing this opinion. I’m baffled as to why greed grows even faster for adults with more wealth than they could spend on things they would use.

In the year 2000, the great bull market on stocks and shares shuddered to a halt. Three years later, markets were still in the doldrums. Yet, Richard Grasso, the chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange, a nonprofit company, was awarded a “golden parachute” of $139.5 million. A modern archetype of greed, he was able to keep the money on a legal technicality, according to the Economist.

Greed is defined as an excessive (intense and selfish) desire for wealth and possessions. Wouldn’t it seem logical that this would reach a point of saturation, a point where enough is enough. We know that it does with some of the folks who became unusually wealthy, folks such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and others. They have made a point of using money they don’t truly need personally to help folks who truly need. It seems logical doesn’t it, in a society that claims to be moral and often true religious believers. Unfortunately, we have too many individuals who say the words, but don’t walk the walk.

When I was a kid, I heard this expressed as “talking out of both sides of their mouth.”

Politically, we have seen this debated by the Supreme Court that recently ruled that former restrictions on corporate spending took away their individual rights. Ralph Nader wrote a book on this issue entitled, “Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism.” He was one of the first that I can remember discussing the large amounts of American cash held in hidden overseas accounts. At that time, the largest amount of such accounts was held by UBS AG Switzerland, which held about 47,000 account holders. The Tax Justice Network further stated the wrongdoing was only the tip of the iceberg. There are larger numbers cited today and attempts are being made to reveal specific names and amounts to enable the U.S. to collect taxes owed.

Another definition of greed is “a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy without ever reaching satisfaction.” And the results continue to worsen. One report had it the 400 richest people in U.S. now have as much as the bottom 154 million.

Nader cited some of the tax havens then: Bank of America, 59 subsidiaries in the Caymans, Morgan Stanley, 158 in the Caymans, Lehman Brothers, 31 in the Caymans. There were and are more, Bermuda, Channel Islands, Isle of Jersey, British Virgin Islands, Luxembourg, and others.

Mention is being made more often of this travesty on the U.S. government and the many unmet social needs. Infrastructure repair is only one need waiting.

My uncle Charlie used to say that Americans who skirted their legal and social responsibilities were not “true blue” Americans.

I believe this is why the new Catholic Pope is liked by so many so early in his papacy.

He is espousing the opposite of many greedy elite who want to keep their wealth while others live in poverty.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@