Photo courtesy of Geez Magazine
The American arrogance over money is the reality in 2012. America has been the land of opportunity before the formation of this great nation. The formation of the United States was the first representative government system in the world, and freedom would ensure the future strength and prosperity of our nation. “Quality and Quantity” was an equal pinnacle of measurement of success in America, and values were the foundation to create wealth. The Puritans did not land in Massachusetts in 1620 because a huge stacks of gold were easily accessible upon arrival in the new world. The value of freedom in the new world was wealth in the assessment by the Puritans, and money/gold would not impact all the struggles that were suffered by the Puritans.
Onward 400 years into the future, the roaring 20′s did end with the October 1929 stock market crash with The Great Depression in the 1930′s. Another period in American history, money became the value assessment in America. The extreme wealth and extreme poverty were the two classes as the middle class were gutted. The Great Depression made a generation learn that value was not actual currency after the bank run of 1933. People who grew up during the Depression said, “No one had any money. We were all in the same boat.” Exposure to a Depression Era Grandparent did not impact the difference in values and beliefs until becoming an adult. Money was never a focal point in life, but money was a focus of parents in the sense of being financially secured. The time spent with the Grandparents were like access to everything without going anywhere. Food, Supplies, Toys, and Gas was available at the Grandparents. The question as a five year old child to my Grandaddy.
“Why do you grow so much food when there is a large grocery store down the street?”
These people did not have money as a moral in life, and they were the happiest and most loving people in all my lifetime…
Forward to 2012, money is creating an arrogance in America. Why study or work hard when Reality TV will make you a automatic star or a wealthy parent/grandparent can pay someone for a child access to a college or job. Why act ethically or be truthful as an executive of a company when money will give a pass to any consequences, or the self appointed wealthy family member or friend is the judge and jury in other people’s lives of a lesser class status. These self-appointed family member or friend does not hesitate from interjecting unsolicited feedback on others actions outside realm of tolerance.
Two articles were released to expose the arrogance of money in our society. The following items are the excerpts from the future book release by Michael J Sandal and CNN Money article on executives involvement in the missing funds scandal at MF Global:
The following excerpt is from the Consumerismcommentary.com about the book release of In What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J Sandal:
The idea that everything has a financial value seems to have become more prevalent over the last two decades, according to a new book. In What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets  by Michael J. Sandel, the author argues that our trend of attributing market thinking to an increasing array of behavior could be detrimental to society.
The book has not yet been released as of the time of writing this article, so I haven’t read it yet. A review in Fortune Magazine is inspiring me to pre-order the book before its release.
The author notes how Americans are now more comfortable with marketing or selling things they might have not in the past. Selling ad space on foreheads, accepting money for branded tattoos, and paying students for each book they read are a few examples of things that might have been unthinkable a few years ago. I would add that the pervasiveness of the Internet has made some of this possible, when it comes to selling ourselves. Through the democratized ability to self-publish, people can easily market themselves without much effort. If you get enough attention, some company also looking for attention would be happy to pay you to do something newsworthy, like slapping a brand on your car for a year.
With the popularity reality television, the idea that anyone can become famous — not just for fifteen minutes but for an entire television season — and wealthy (think: Kardashians) is enticing.
Here are some thoughts from the Fortune Magazine review of the book:
The price we pay for this behavior plays out in several ways, Sandel argues. First off, poorer people are impacted disproportionately by the commercialization of personal space. How many affluent people are lining up to turn their houses or bodies into billboards? In this way, the decision to sell isn’t necessarily as independent and free as it may look. In a society increasingly driven by financial power, moreover, the wealthy hold even better hands than they would otherwise. Why bother encouraging your kid to study hard if you can simply grease his path into Harvard or Yale with the promise of a massive donation?
The following is from CNN Money on MF Global funds executive involvement in the missing funds:
Giddens’ team is just one among a number of groups probing MF Global’s collapse. There’s also Louis Freeh, the trustee for MF Global’s parent company, as well as the Department of Justice and federal regulatorsincluding the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Jill Sommers, a commissioner with the CFTC, told the hearing Tuesday that she could not disclose details of the commission’s investigation, but said the case could lead to enforcement actions against the company or the individuals involved.
The SEC and CFTC can only seek civil penalties and restitution for customers, but their findings could help form the basis of a criminal case brought by the Justice Department.
Giddens, for his part, has said he may file civil claims against MF Global executives alleging breach of fiduciary duties and violations of federal law governing commodities trading. A person familiar with the trustee’s probe said Jon Corzine, a former U.S. senator and Democratic governor from New Jersey who was CEO of MF Global when it collapsed, is among those against whom Giddens is considering action.
So far, most of MF Global’s thousands of former customers have recovered about 70% of their money, while those that traded on foreign exchanges are missing nearly all of it.
On Tuesday, a bankruptcy judge in Manhattan authorized an additional distribution of $685 million that will bring most customers up to around 80% of what they’re owed. Six months after the firm’s failure, however, they’re still waiting for someone to be held accountable.
“Crimes have been committed here without a doubt,” said James Koutoulas, an attorney and trader who has been advocating on behalf of MF Global customers.
“We think there are enough facts out here to start arresting people and start filing charges.”
Why act in a manner of character, hard work, integrity, honesty, or exceptional ethics when money can buy a pass? This overview is not about someone being successful or wealthy, but profiteering is not acceptable when societal values and character are smashed. First, a child saying that when I grow up that I want to be just like Kim Kardashian, a Reality TV star, is not unacceptable or offense. However, astronaut, engineer, scientist, business owner, inventor, etc. are professions that we expect the children to reference as guidance that hard work and good behavior is essential to being successful. Not everyone is a product of Hollywood with the ability to launch a Realty TV show for immediate stardom. Kim Kardashian was able to make the move into stardom, and the decision was very excellent business decision. A smart business decision does not entitle a title of role model of to the younger generation. In addition, why work hard for college anyway if you have a wealthy parent or grandparent? They can pay the way for your acceptance at college or a new six figure job. This behavior is acceptable in America with no regards of ethics or morals in such actions. The consequence is not to only the society, but the creator of a potential social misfit is the relative to supplement this behavior of their child or grandchild. What do you think the consequence will be in the future when this privileged individual has to cope with challenge from a person, colleague, or family member as an adult? Money will not cover up the consequence of teaching someone through out life money buys all options and resolutions in life…
Second, former CEO Jon Corzine and former New Jersey Senator did appear in Senate hearings after $1.6 billion dollars of customer’s funds at MF Global went missing sending the company into bankruptcy and many customers suffering loss of funds. Corzine was meek during the hearing, and he gave an impression of a naive ignorance over the whole matter. A CEO is over an entire company, and this is one transaction committed in the midst of many. He did use careful language and words during the hearings, but CNN Money is reporting that evidence is showing Corzine ‘s involvement in the missing fund debacle is under consideration to sue Corzine and possibly charge him with breaking several federal fiduciary laws. Corzine was a witness to the banking executives in 2008 bring an entire nation to the brink of the abyss, and most executives did not lose jobs or their freedom. No consequence is necessary if you have lots of money. The political leadership did not implement a consequence in 2008 for the financial crisis to many of the executives and companies involved, and the consequence was the actions of the executives and CEO Jon Corzine in the bankruptcy of MF Global Funds.
The problem is not isolated to a small group or a few elitists as acceptance of this behavior is becoming more normal in society. A discussion with a friend yesterday did provide another example of money allowing unacceptable behavior. The friend did not know how to accept or react to a recent conversation with a mutual friend. This mutual friend came from an affluent family, and adult life is more affluent with current employment/income of the mutual friend and spouse. The mutual friend was very critical, and made comments to the friend discussing this situation that were rude and judgmental. My friend does have a great family, nice house, and happy life minus the pomp and circumstance. The response was to my friend that contact with the mutual friend should be avoided until the time is appropriate when you can discuss with no emotion to inform the mutual friend (who bragged about all the money) that certain actions cross the line. Advice was given to the friend on what to say, but wealth does not entitled anyone to be a super human or godlike. This example is one experience of many in recent years of close associates acting in this manner. Happiness is more priceless than money. Why not have both??
In conclusion, the societal impact is insurmountable into our democratic way of life. America is at the point of being unable to govern itself because we are substituting money for every thing of value, ethics, and morals in the society. People are behaving in this manner, and establishing a precedent of behavior in every thing having a financial value. People are immune that these actions are no less than idiotic and shameful, but human morals/values do not apply because of stealing from your company to become a millionaire. Wealth was obtained somehow, and you must be smart enough to have a stellar counsel to represent your entitled innocence. Does that sound a little abnormal? A little incestuous?
BTW: I know many successful and wealthy people who impact my life professionally or personally. They are the teachers and role models in society. The level of wealth or success is not a consideration even in an initial meeting because of the exceptional character and personality shining through first. These friendships have been the core support in empowering my endevours that is coming to fruition in 2012. Thank you…