Fighting the War on Greed

One of the topics that I have very rarely seen covered anywhere is related to why Americans seem to be so greedy.  You can ask multi-billionaires what they want most, and it’s likely that they’ll want more money (or power, which they would buy with money).  Even for most “typical” individuals, the goals is to get raises so they can spend more.  And people often spend far more than they have to begin with.  Yet, no one seems to question about of this.  Why would someone who makes millions per year not retire?  Isn’t that enough money?  And, wouldn’t retirement be a great goal?  Sadly, it’s rare.  Our media tends to glamorize the rich, regardless of how they made their money.

WarOnGreed.org has a video that highlights Henry Kravis’ possessions and those of his company, KKR.  To get an idea of how much money this guy has, the video mentions that his company pulls in more cash than Coca-Cola, Disney, and Microsoft.  Here’s some information from Brave New Films:

Henry Kravis is a billionaire, the 57th richest person in America. He acquired this wealth by purchasing public companies with borrowed money. To pay off the debt, he cuts benefits at the company, sells its assets, and lays off employees.

This get-rich-quick scheme made him $450 million last year. Meanwhile, his tax rate is lower than teachers, firemen, nurses, even his own cleaning staff!

Henry made approximately $1.3 million dollars per day, every day, last year.  KKR has been involved in 160 take-overs, many of which have dollar values that are far more than the GDP of most countries on the planet.  So how did he make that much money?  He tends to purchase companies, cut benefits, and basically milk the employees for all they’re worth.  And, he enjoys huge tax breaks.  You can see the same thing within the Bush Administration – you’ve got a bunch of Dubya’s cronies (who are filthy rich to begin with) getting richer (and filthier).  This often done at the cost of thousands (and perhaps millions) or lives.

What bothers me most is that a lot of people would consider this guy to be a hero.  I’m not implying that all rich people are the problem.  However, I think our society would benefit from being far less materially-driven.  We should look down on people that buy fleets of 5,000-pound vehicles.  We should make fun of people who have more than one McMansion.  And, we shouldn’t take it for granted that everyone should be in debt.

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