Posted by: twotrees | September 25, 2008

Culture of Greed

    The recent pandemic of financial woes in the U.S. reminds me of something I learned years ago about greed.  In 1979, a friend told me about a scheme whereby I was given a list of ten or so names and instructed to send a $100 bill to the first name on the list, cross it off, add my name to the bottom and send it to three other people of my choice.  Or some such thing.  I was somewhat skeptical of this plan, but did a little due diligence and found one person on this list from Mill Valley willing to tell me that yes, indeed, they were making money.  Since I was not studious of the method by which this ‘business’ worked, I joined in.  And waited.

Sure enough, within two weeks, an envelope or two, with $100 bill in each, came to my mailbox.  It was then that I had my first taste of what greed can do to a person.  In shorthand, I became consumed with my mail – while at school, I wondered if the mail had come yet.  Racing home from work, I would first check the mailbox before doing anything else.  The euphoric feeling of having cold hard cash land in your lap, having done nothing to earn it, paying no taxes, was what I imagine winning the lottery to be like today.  And still more envelopes came.  It was a very strange feeling.

Looking back, it taught me that such things are both unnatural and short lived.  Ultimately, I found out that this type of activity is illegal, and for good reason.  A ponzi scheme rewards those first in to the detriment to those last in.  After this experience I felt both ashamed and introspective.  How could I let this happen to me?  What can I learn from this moving forward?

Today, I consider myself a Compassion Conservative when it comes to fiscal matters.  Yes, I like to make money, but there is a limit to the speed with which I want my personal ‘economic engine’ to revve and the agressiveness I am willing to be to earn it.  I feel that slow and steady is far better than fast and volatile.

Not everyone shares my view, which is one reason why our national economy is in a bad way at this time.  I have had the great good luck to have lived with and around people with money and some with very little.  Over the years, I have learned that money only does so much and that some of the happiest people I know are not rich or even well to do.  Balance is something that I strive for, and it’s something I hope this country does as well moving forward.



  1. Making money should be a win-win transaction for everyone concerned and not at the expense of someone else…

  2. Compassionate capitalism; it’s the next “thing”. Interesting story, glad you shared it. You’re so right about balance.

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