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Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: Greed

We all know about greed, we have all seen it in our society, and there have been times in our lives where we were greedy as well. Barack Obama once said, "We didn't become the most prosperous country in the world just by rewarding greed and recklessness. We didn't come this far by letting the special interests run wild. We didn't do it just by gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street. We built this country by making things by producing goods we could sell." He is on point with this statement. This country become the biggest economic giant, industrial powerhouse, middle-class army the world has ever seen. We created more millionaires and billionaires than any other country. People in the middle class could move up to the higher tiers with a little extra work, training, or bringing an invention or idea to life. Yet greed somehow was able to hook itself to our society, to our nation, and the world and no one stood up against it. It was all about that paper profits, the Friedman Doctrine, and influence by companies like McKinsey & Company. These types of people and their actions led to our nation and our government, allowing manufacturing to be shipped overseas to other countries, mainly China. This allowed these greedy individuals to pocket all the money that would have gone to good-paying jobs and make even more money with their stocks because their overhead costs were much less, and that somehow looks good to Wall Street. But I am not going to go into these again and risk sounding like a broken record. I want to go into stories and images of greed within the circle of us, ordinary folks. To show that this disease from the powers that be and the rich have spread to us as well.

Currently, the situation with COVID-19 has brought to light how the disease of greed has followed from Wall Street, corporations, the wealthy, and on to us ordinary people. My first example, two brothers Matt and Noah Colvin from Tennessee, is currently sitting on a stockpile of almost 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and countless packs of antibacterial wipes and masks. These two brothers were on Amazon selling individual bottles for $8 and $70 each. These bottles usually cost no more than a $1 per bottle. We have hospitals that are now having to ration respirator masks because distributors do not have the inventory to stock said hospitals. This is because people infected with greed like these two, bought them all up so they could make a massive profit on the suffering of others. The horrible thing about greed is you believe you are not doing anything wrong or anything that anyone else wouldn't do. In the article, Colvin said that through his actions, he was not price gouging he was fixing "inefficiencies in the market place," that he was helping send the supply toward the demand. It could very well be possible he was sending the supply to the demand but at a cost where you have to sign over your firstborn child. Now due to Amazon removing him from their site because of his price gouging, he doesn't know what to do with this stockpile, so he feels he'll try to sell locally to make a slight profit.

Another person is a truck driver from Ohio named Eric. He didn't want to give his surname because he feared Amazon would come after him. I don't think so. I believe he doesn't want his neighbors or other people nearby to know who he is. This guy has collected about 10,000 masks, at $20 per 10 pack, and selling them at $125. Eric, in a short amount of time, has made $35,000 to $40,000 in profit. He now has 1,000 masks and doesn't know what to do with them as well.

I have a simple idea for these two examples and guess what they can still make a profit, just not an arm and a leg type of profit. I mentioned hospitals above, well since they have a stockpile of items that hospitals are needing and can't find a distributor, they can reach out to the most needing hospitals and tell them what they have. They can then sell these items to the hospital for 20 to 25% profit and have the hospital pay the shipping fees. Is it a retirement amount of profit? No, but its money you didn't have before and is still profit. Being smart with that profit, you can invest or look to purchase more of these items in bulk and now become the temporary distributor for these hospitals. See, it's not that damn hard to want profits, to get profits, but to still be a decent human being. You can create wealth and financial freedom by doing humanitarian actions and not make them on the suffering of others. What a lot of people, especially those affected by the greed virus lack, is the bigger picture. They don't think five years from now or ten years from now. They only think about the immediate profits and how to get them. Yet if they would step back and think bigger, they could become wealthier than their short term vision. In this case, they could have again become the temporary distributors for hospitals and agencies that are the most needing of what they have. They make a decent profit, and news spreads fast. Someone from the hospital or agency is going to talk to a friend in the media telling them about these people, that they are not price gouging, and have become a great asset to them.

Well, the media is going to want to talk to them, and if you run it right, you look like a great human being. Talk shows may even want to talk to you; you get paid to do that stuff. You now have a platform to build an image for yourself. For example, the two bothers sitting on masks, wipes, and hand sanitizers their only job is their own business. They are what you call retail arbitrages. Imagine the publicity you get from being a good guy, and now people know you are a professional retail arbitrage. It would increase traffic to your sites of sale, which means even more potential profits in the future because people now know your name, which now potential buyers have associated you with being a good person.

Greed, in its pure form, is evil, and these examples show what the disease looks is. Yet I want to say not all greed is evil. Because if you are a moral person, and want to do great things for your fellow man and the world, you'll need money to make those things happen. So my example of why a particular type of greed is not a bad thing would be in a hypothetical scenario. Because I want to not only make my fellow Millennials feel that we can become filthy rich but make substantial positive impacts on our world at the same time. For my example, I'm going to use Jeff Bezos. A lot of people feel he is one greedy little Grinch. He is the richest man in the world, owns one of the wealthiest and most influential companies in the world, and yet the wealth accumulates with no real action from him or his company. His way of life could honestly define greed. Now, what if, with all this control on the retail world and all his wealth, he could do more. You know, never seeing an end to the zeros in his bank account. The only difference in this scenario is that he uses the majority of his wealth to clean the oceans. Or invest in infrastructure in the United States. He was maybe using a large portion of his yearly wealth to improve inner cities, education, or even create the manufacturing training for jobs that are needed in the United States to return such work from China.

The manufacturing one would help fight the greed by such companies like Apple that sent over all their manufacturing to China. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has continuously said that is the reason their products, especially their phones, are not made in the United States. That we do not have the type of workers needed that have a technical background like China has on hand. That we also don't have the support manufacturing capability surrounding the product factories. What he means by this is, like what we used to have in Detroit when the big three automakers were booming. You didn't just have GM, Ford, and Chrysler; they had all these other companies around that provided the nuts and bolts, the other parts that required for their cars. Tim Cook says we don't have that here, and that is why they are in China. Well, I agree that we don't, but going back to the hypothetical scenario of greed is a good thing, people like Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook could recreate that environment here in this country. Again, think long run! By recreating this kind of situation within the United States, they would be providing the training and knowledge to create such operations to manufacture their products here in the states. These new companies would provide good-paying jobs with excellent benefits, and their employees will most likely purchase the product they built or helped build. While at the same time, like in my soon to come post "New School Capitalism," they sell their phones no longer at 200% profit but less, they will make more in the long run because now more people can afford their phones!

The message I and For Our United Republic want to pass on is that greed used in the right way can be useful. Still, the greed we have today will only continue to prove Shirley Chisholm correct (by the way an awesome woman in our country's history), "When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses." Instead, let us create our opportunities, let us accumulate wealth to have great lives, but also to use that wealth to make significant changes to our world. Let us be Maya Angelou's quote, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Use that wealth to make positive impacts in people's lives, use that wealth to rid our society of issues that plague us and use that wealth to usher in a new future!

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