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The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, sloth and greed. One of those deadly sins passed through a cleansing process in America right around the 1980 mark. Guess which one.
'Greed is good, greed works'....said Michael Douglas in the 1987 movie, Wall Street. Although only a movie, it mirrored the very real era of greed then blossoming under the supply side leadership of Ronald Reagan. It was the era of Sir Goldsmith and.....Bain Capital....of leveraged buyouts, deregulation, de-unionization, low taxes and much higher individual and national debt.
But make no mistake, the fuel driving the Reagan Revolution was greed. The thinking was, and still is, that the burning and insatiable sin of greed in human nature was the answer to most of our national questions. The evil encapsulated within greed just needed to be tapped for all it's 'goodness.'
Jobs outsourced, unions decimated, pensions gutted and/or eliminated, wages stagnant......personal debt skyrocketing....all of it, a direct result of the new era where the once-repugnant sin of greed was welcomed as a redeeming virtue.
And then.....America began to witness why it was that the sages of yesteryear considered greed to be a deadly sin.....
Greed kept minimum wage rates from rising. Greed dismantled middle class jobs, sending those jobs to Communist China. Greed could not tolerate unions because union negotiations restricted greed, so unions had to go. Greed masterminded Wall Street-gameable IRA's as a replacement for more stable and reliable fixed pensions. Greed established offshore tax havens.
Then, greed got serious in America. It was called "irrational exuberance" by now totally discredited Preachers of the Gospel of Greed. What it was ...was greed gone bonkers. The Dotcom bubble. Remember that great Mr. Wizard experiment? Trillions were taken out of average family's IRA's and redistributed to the accounts of those who pumped up the Bubble. The great question of the time was......Are You Rich Yet?
The DOW and S&P have set new records recently.....but adjusted for inflation.....both indexes have still not recovered from the dotcom bust.
Enron came next with their virtuous work stealing granny's pension by manipulating electricity prices for the purpose of making even larger killings in commodities trading. The greedmeisters who praised Enron for years, were shocked, shocked I tell you, when they learned that Enron was but another Ponzi of Greed.
But nothing compares to the greatest Grift of Greed...ever. The mortgage meltdown. The epic chop-shop of greed....it was. In the dust left behind from the Greatest Greed Show on Earth......average American families, already treading low-wage water over the last couple decades, many reeling from dotcom losses and much higher energy costs......finally experienced why it was that the sages of yesteryear included greed in their list of deadly sins.
Average, non-rich Americans lost 40% of their net worth in one short four year period....while the rich, after a hiccup in 2009, saw their share of income and profits skyrocket even higher. And all of it as a result of the the now decades-long paradigm shift claiming that 'greed is good, greed works.'
During this decades-long greedfest....we were continually reminded that greed was still the way forward. Even as income and wealth disparity charts clearly demonstrated that what Greed Gone Wild had accomplished had only really benefited the top 2%......while leaving the rest of the nation the same or worse-off......the 21st century Merchants of Greed pushed for even lower tax rates on the wealthy, and less regulation on greed.
And now those same 'Greed is Good' Preachers are coming after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Greed can't be satisfied. The proof is now in front of out noses. Unsatisfied with only reducing the net worth of average families by 40%, the same Church of the Gospel of Greed now needs old people, sick people, vulnerable people to give up some of their pittances to once again fuel their engines of greed.
Greed was labeled a deadly sin by the prophets of old....for a reason. Greed, rather than being 'good'......is destructive. Greed destroys. Greed is insatiable. Greed 'works'.....but only for the greedy. Greed....if it's control of our nation is not checked....will destroy us as a free and prosperous country.
Or...perhaps....it already has.
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