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Greed…ier….iest…

15 Nov

I was just watching the program 20/20 about being greedy. The first part of the serial focussed on the greedy aspects of Walmart and how Walmart only gives very low wages to their employees and how they dont offer good healthcare options. It also had comments from Walmart employees and managers who contended that, if Walmart is so unjust, why would people be willing to work there in the first place. They showed an employee who was once a homeless person and now has a reasonably good job with two assistants reporting to her. Extending the concept of greediness, they showed how some of the richest people in America spent their money. Then, they showed some people who did “extreme charity”. One person gave away all the 45 million dollars that he earned during his lifetime. Another woman donated all of the 3 million dollars that she inherited. Yet, she stays in a 250 sq. ft. apartment with her boyfriend. The third person is a math teacher whose only aim is to donate upto 1 million dollars in his life time. To optimize his efficiency in achieving his goal, he lives in a very small place to maximize his charity out of his salary. On top of it, he volunteers for a charity in their construction of housing for poors, during his weekends. I was very moved by the episode…

The major contention is this. Are business people greedy? Any business person comes up with a new thing to sell and they market it and solve people’s “problems”. When Ford or GM made new cars, they revolutionised the automobile industry. In the process, they made money. Also, we know that any business person tries to optimize on the invested money to make the maximum gains. And it is obvious, as we have seen in the past, that new inventions and finer technologies almost always reduces the cost of an existing scheme. If Microsoft or Intel hadnt come out with a personal computer, we would have been stuck with IBM mainframes or other such expensive machines. Similarly, Walmart reduced the prices of items by optimizing on low-cost laborers within and outside the United States. Assuming that we all shop at Walmart, have we ever thought about how Walmart is able to such lower prices? Most probably, no. Because, as long as we get stuff for cheap prices, we are happy. If someone gets benefited, let them be…Isnt that true ?

Interestingly enough, we all feel bad when we hear unjust happenings and share a word or two to others as if we care. In my dictionary, there are only 2 kinds of people in the context of looking at something unjust. People who do something to change it and the others who dont. There are no intermediate people. There is no distinction between people who “want” to do something about it and people who dont, since it doesnt make any difference either way…

If you have ever filed your taxes, you must have gotten to see the column corresponding to Average Charity Contribution by people belonging to your income? I was surprised to see that the average charity contribution was of the order of 15-20X more than what I contribute. I dont know about others. But, to me, it was rather an eye opener. It just tells me that I am greedy too. Suddenly, it dawned on me. What rights do I have in criticizing someone else as greedy. I am a mini Walmart in my own respect. I am another one of those person who tries to optimize my gains. Out of curiosity, I tried to calculate the percentage of income that I spent on charity and compared it with the published numbers. It wasnt even 1% and I think that applies to most (almost 70% of people in US) of us. Think about it…The thought by itself had a great impact on me… But then, looking back at my earlier definition, I want to transform my impact to some real quantifiable action. I hope this blog has similar effect on you too…

References:
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=1300757
http://www.law.berkeley.edu/institutes/csls/Cooter%20&%20Broughman%20paper.pdf

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3 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2005 in From AM-KICKING blog

 

3 responses to “Greed…ier….iest…

  1. sdpal

    November 15, 2005 at 6:45 pm

    I also saw the program…
    Smashing walmart, its there on the news for quite sometime. Even in todays news (700 Club in Fox channel morning 9) was about similar stuff. Infact one guy lost in recent election, because he promoted Walmart in his region, Delmar, (area which is near by sandiego). Maybe all the nearby small store owners are/will-be affected.
    I should agree, I was also moved by the lady who was staying in 250sqft room, with her boyfriend, who donated 3 million.
    I tool felt bad about myself then.
    Although everybody has their eye-opening moments like this on not to cheat (taxes or any other way..), Its quite difficult to carry it on all the way.
    I totally support what you did here. Telling openly to your closest people(s), that you are going to do taxes honestly. I guess, this will make us strong enough to follow what we said. None of us want to be a hypocrite (although, we are sometimes).
    Well, I will do the taxes honestly too.

     
  2. Mindframes

    November 15, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    To clarify – I am not talking about filing taxes honestly. I am talking about the fraction of your income spent on charity. Turbotax typically gives you the amount of charity people did, in the same income group as you.

     
  3. sdpal

    November 15, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    I agree. I misunderstood the concept.. I had something in mind and quickly came to conclusion you were talking about something else (prejudice)

    Anyhow.. I got what you are saying.. contribute more.

     

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