What has greed cost America?

Gordon Gecko was wrong. Greed is not good. It’s very, very bad. And, it’s destroying America a little more each day.

This morning on MSNBC's conservative Morning Joe show, rock icon Graham Nash had this to say about the Koch Brothers.

"...it's appalling how many climate change deniers there are in this world that are paid to make sure that the Koch brothers can still sell all the stuff to us. And I often wonder, don't the Koch brothers have children? Don't they have grandchildren? Don't they know what they're doing in this quest for more money? They're already one of the richest families in the world. How much more do you need?"

He's right. Greed is threatening to destroy our entire planet. And it's not just greed in the fossil fuel industry. It’s become virtually impossible – if not totally impossible – to name a single major industry in America that We The People aren’t subsidizing and that hasn't turned into a functional monopoly.

Think about it. Each year, we give away billions to Big Oil. We give billions to Wall Street. We fork over our hard earned money to private prison corporations, healthcare giants, and giant transnational fast-food corporations. That’s all money that’s coming out of our pockets, money that was taken as our tax dollars from We The People.

And, we’re giving away these billions despite the fact that those industries and corporations are raking in massive profits all by themselves.

Take McDonald’s for example. That fast-food giant, whose workers are struggling to survive and provide for their families, has seen its profits soar by over 130% in recent years. Yet, you and I are being forced to pick up the slack, and help McDonald’s employees survive.

A study by the National Employment Law Project found that McDonald’s low wages cost American taxpayers nearly $1.2 billion each year. And, a separate study found that in total, the fast-food industry’s low wages cost We The People around $7 billion annually.

Virtually every societal problem in America today can trace its roots back to the overwhelming levels of greed that have taken over our economy and society. But, while greed is destroying America, other countries are saying not so fast, and are putting people ahead of profits.

Take Denmark for example, which has managed to take a lot of greed out of the equation. While fast-food workers here in America are fighting for a modest minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour, the base wage for fast-food workers in Denmark is the equivalent of $20 per hour, two and a half times more than what most American fast-food workers are earning per hour.

As Hampus Elofsson, a Danish fast-food worker, told The New York Times, “You can make a decent living here working in fast food. You don’t have to struggle to get by.” But it’s not just the wages that are better in Denmark. Worker benefits are also far better than they are here in the U.S.

Danish fast-food workers get five weeks paid vacation, paid maternity and paternity leave and a pension plan. They also have to be paid overtime if they work after 6 PM and on Sundays. And, believe it or not, the fast-food corporations operating in Denmark are going along with these better wages and benefits.

They’ve accepted the fact that, in Denmark, people have to come before profits. Martin Drescher, the general manager of HMSHost Denmark, an airport restaurants operator, told The New York Times that, “We have to acknowledge it’s more expensive to operate. But we can still make money out of it — and McDonald’s does, too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in Denmark.”

He went on to say that, “We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”

Imagine that: a fast-food industry executive who cares about wealth inequality, and who doesn’t want people struggling to survive and provide for their families.

Meanwhile, back here in America, we have corporate executives in just about every industry who don’t give a second thought to wealth inequality and the struggles that American workers are facing. As long as profits keep rolling in, that’s all that matters. America needs to take a page out of the Danish playbook.

We need to start asking ourselves some serious questions about our economy, society, and values. We need to be asking ourselves, "What’s happened to the ideas of civic and moral responsibility in America?" And, we need to be asking ourselves, "Are we here to serve the economy, or is the economy here to serve us?"

There should be no place for raw, naked greed in America. It should be tightly regulated and controlled - it should be seen as the mental illness and social illness that it is. Greed is not what our country was founded on, it certainly isn’t what it was built on, and it’s not what’s going to make America great again.

Comments

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 5 weeks ago
#1

I think the greedy people in this country took a page out of the Ferengi's 'Rules Of Acquisition', and ran with it. The students have become the masters.

For those of you who don't get the reference, it's from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the Ferengi are the greediest species in the galaxy.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 7 years 5 weeks ago
#2

There is an extended list of the 'Rules of Acquisition' online for your amusement.

Question: Would you rather have a society with honest policemen or honest stock market people? Answer: Stock guys can only take what you voluntarily hand over to them.

dianhow 7 years 5 weeks ago
#3

US laws and right wing anti middle class policies ENCOURAGE & REWARD GREED. My biggest fear right now is that GOP will win the senate and states like Illinois will go to men like Bruce Rauner. A Billionaire who makes much of his money thru the MISFORTUNE of others . Rauner told one co- worker ' DO as I say or ' I will BURY you ' This is a scary character if I ever saw one. Gov's Walker & Scott inc the Gov of Kansas are running their state like a CORP STATE . Our far right wing courts do the same . Once upon a time I was a moderate GOP voter They no longer exists The T bagger anti middle class GOP is Greedy , devious and uses fear to manipulate us . They Lust after Power and great Wealth no matter who gets hurt...Middle class is just ' collateral damage '

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 5 weeks ago
#4

The happiest countries in the world practice Democratic Socialism. That's a simple fact our billionaire owned corpse media avoids exposing at all cost. The happiest countries collect taxes and recycle funds back into society for the benefit of all. They refuse to blow half of what is collected on a military / spy industrial complex, as we do. The happiest countries spend the funds on things like non profit education and healthcare for all. Yet in a few weeks at least half of the voters in this country will vote once again against their own happiness. The corpse media makes far more profit pedaling the billionaire lies and sadly far less communicating simple truth. As Thom points out frequently, we have five right wing Supreme Court extremists to blame for this Fascist shift away from our founders intention of a representative democracy. Most citizens have little time or energy to seek out facts supporting progressive truth. Without our own mass media the battle seems next to impossible. We need to elect more leaders like Bernie and Elizabeth, leaders who once on the job have refused to chicken out, they constantly communicate the truth.....

I'm both shocked and ashamed that in his second term our own President won't shout out and fight back in support of the 99.9%....or in other words, stand up for representative democracy. Obviously he can't stop the Teapublican shut down of our government, but by god he could at least communicate the truth of the billionaire's fascist overthrow of our country.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 5 weeks ago
#5

So Thom wants America to become Denmark. Ya it sounds great five weeks paid holidays free university, free health care. What he doesn't tell you is you are taxed to death there. They have almost no money left over for fun. They get by and that is it. No back yards, no RV's, no sports cars. Buying a ticket to a sort event there is a luxury. They live in 500 sq/ft flats. Why do you think sooooo many Europeans are beating the door down to get here. What is the matter with America. Where is that drive and passion you used to have. The big plan is TAX, TAX, TAX. Only six years of a socialist rule and you have lost your spirt. Beat right out of you. Please someone tell me it isn't true.

kloro's picture
kloro 7 years 5 weeks ago
#6

If my idea of happiness was a big RV and a big backyard, I'd be unhappy in Sweden. And everywhere else. BTW I spend a lot of time with Europeans here in Mexico. Not one of them wants to live in the U.S.

I suspect you don't know a lot about being with other people.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 5 weeks ago
#7

Reply to #5: Once again Kend, where do you get your facts? Who says Europeans are migrating here in droves? Where's the evidence? That's news to me. And who do you think is funding America's bloated defense budget; Santa Claus? All those hundreds of billions of $$$ could be rebuilding our crumbling roads & bridges, and a single-payer healthcare system instead of wars over oil. All about priorities!

"Great again"? Was America ever really "great" in the first place? If so, by what measure?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#8

Well, Kend, I've just been to Copenhagen (via Google Earth) and checked out whether they had back yards and I saw quite a few of them...big ones, in fact. And pretty big single family houses. Once you get away from the city into the suburbs, just like in the US, you see single family houses with back yards. I don't know about RVs or sports cars...maybe that is not their thing as it might be in the US or Canada. Neither one made much sense anyway....the RV is a gas guzzler...and it is probably cheaper just to stay in a motel. And the sports cars just get you stopped by the police. And most people in the US and Canada do not have those either. I agree that they are taxed more but their taxes are worth paying because their government does good things with those taxes...unlike in the US (and probably Canada...but not so much as the US) where the criminals are getting rich off of our tax dollars. And the biggest sucking sound is coming from the Military Industrial Complex and their bought off crooked politicians who create needless and illegal wars. If they'd use those tax dollars for more social programs, there would be more spending on things that are needed and growing our economy instead of making a few people very wealthy who either stash it overseas or heavily gamble on reckless things like derivatives which is currently tearing our country apart...financially. Just wait until the BRIC countries become the prominent economic force. The US will become a lowly backwater third world country...as it already is in so many ways.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 7 years 5 weeks ago
#9

Why are we listening to Graham Nash? Is it because he released a book last month? Or maybe it is his 2014 tour? Graham Nash is stating the obvious, making a provocative comment to reestablish his "anti-establishment" cred. And Thom, like Joe , and like other are giving him both free publicity and credibility. So, all those old and new hippies can remember what a activist he was and still is after all these years, and extract a few dollars from those bleeding hearts. Fighting the good fight!

Graham Nash's new book is published by Three Rivers Press, which is owned by Bertelmann. Bertelmann is a German corporation that handle the majority of the Third Reich's propaganda before and during WWII; during WWII Bertelmann's used concentration camp labor too. They finally admitted they lied about the company's association with the Nazi party, in 2002, but that's all okay with Graham Nash, because he's concerned about the planet. Please.

The point about greed is valid and correct, but let's not make demigods out of opportunist. Nash is part of the greed driven psychotic system (State Capitalism).

phanomf8's picture
phanomf8 7 years 5 weeks ago
#10

Too bad Americans are so full of themselves and ASSUME they are the best! Hence, going into foreign countries like Iraq and killing 100,000 plus innocent citizens in one "shock & awe" 36-hour military campaign in 2003 without any American citizen conscience or morality. Now to Denmark [and other Scandinavian countries - my better half is from Finland] - yes they are highly taxed and they do see the benefits [versus "corruption" in this country] - thus, YOU DO NOT SEE them beating down the doors to get here!!!! Quite the opposite! My son is a Navy pilot in the Persian Gulf and says he can't believe how many countries both in Europe [surprise to me] and the mid-east won't even allow his aircraft carrier to land as they are hostile to the United States which hurts my soul. You need to check your facts about how they live etc in Denmark et al - our nephew and niece are doctors in Finland who came to California to study at Stanford and at the completion of their courses could not wait to return to their home country after witnessing all the ailments within American infrastructure and society at large.

geochand's picture
geochand 7 years 5 weeks ago
#11

Holy Crap....Do you people really believe the BS that Thom is blowing out his piehole. Our country was founded on the idea that you got what you worked for. People once came from all parts of the world just to be able to have the chance to be a part of the "American Dream". And they still do (to some degree) today. What our problem is that we have a society that is more and more made up of people who want the "American Dream", but don't want to necessarily work for it. We now have a society largely made up of people that have been hand-fed...the everybody gets a ribbon society. It seems that you want a piece of the pie, but don't want to work too much for it. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would be rolling over in their graves if they knew how their hard work has been taken for granted. Don't you see that the number of takers is going to vastly the number of contributors very soon.....and then where will be. Just think about it.

Vegasman56 7 years 5 weeks ago
#12

Thom, Here's something I think that you would Like

Isis terror threat with actor ALEC BALDWIN and Russell Brand

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 5 weeks ago
#13

Here is a great story from RT about how the world is itching to try both Bush and Obama for war crimes. They claim it is only a matter of time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnN8TAkLGJg

bdangr 7 years 5 weeks ago
#14

You have never been to Denmark. There are no homeless on the streets. Yes, and even the Billionaires are taxed, you dumb Axx. Stay in your rabbit hole.

geochand's picture
geochand 7 years 5 weeks ago
#15

Well said.....Capitalism is bad, except when you are the one making the money.

How much does Thom make in all his jobs and businesses.....does he make more than his staff. Does he have more (property, money, etc) than his staff, if so why? Because he earned it....not because he's entitled to it.....

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 5 weeks ago
#16

Capitalism isn't just bad, it is the root of all evil. It is infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue. Just look at how Capitalism has destroyed this country repeatedly. Just look at how Capitalism is destroying our environment. You do not need Capitalism to earn money. You only need Capitalism to extort money from others.

geochand's picture
geochand 7 years 5 weeks ago
#17

DeAnnMarc.....Are you kidding me? REALLY? Sooooo.....in your make believe world, how is anything paid for? Or is all supplied by the government? You can't equate making money to greed. If you do that, then aren't the employees greedy as well?

I guess those who take from the government would be considered greedy too.

If you owned a farm and worked the fields, animals, whatever....and you didn't give your food, meat, wool....whatever, away then you're a greedy person?

In your world who isn't a greedy person?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#18
Quote geochand: Our country was founded on the idea that you got what you worked for.
That may be so for the little people but the rich and powerful few got that way by the creed: "You get what you kill , steal, cheat, and lie for." They killed, stole, cheated, and lied the American Indians out of their lands, and haven't stopped doing the same against the rest of the world since. In our early history, it was the gold and land grab. Today, it's oil and land grab (at least, taking land for US military bases so that we can lord our power over those in the region).

Quote geochand:What our problem is that we have a society that is more and more made up of people who want the "American Dream", but don't want to necessarily work for it.
I believe that some of that is true...there are people who will try to take advantage of a system, of other people, but they are just not as skillful or lucky enough to be as devious, thieving and murderous as some of those few at the top have been. Murderous? Yes, that's right, murderous. As these people seek to maximize their profits, by whatever means, they result in many millions of people dying. And many of those people just want to work hard to support their families and live in peace.

Some people, perhaps through their corporations, whether it be the top executives or the controlling stockholders...even down to the minority stockholders...all give their assent to the disasters they create...all in the name of profit...and should all be held culpable for their actions.

The little people in that structure may not know what their "investments" do in the name of maximizing profits, and they probably don't want to know, but feigning ignorance of atrocities didn't keep, for example, the victors of WWII from holding a Nuremberg trial that said, in essence, that ignorance, or subservience, of what your superiors order you to do is no excuse. And even some of the civilians of nearby death camps were herded past the massive piles of decaying bodies, the victims of Hitler's final solution.

If you are working for a corporation that, in some way, causes, directly or indirectly, the deaths of masses of people then you are actively supporting the deaths of masses of people. And aside from the corporations in the Military Industrial Complex, there are all the other corporations that ship our jobs overseas, work to minimize wages and benefits such as decent health care. And, they have been known to screw people out of their retirement savings and to screw people out of the social programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Yes, even you, the little investor, could be using your money to, inadvertently perhaps, kill people. But, it's more likely now that you will just eventually lose your investments to Wall Street shenanigans anyway. They have made no changes that levels the field in trading or keeping it honest. It's all a racket that ends up screwing the little guy and making the criminals wealthier.

Without decent wages, or some source of income and affordable healthcare for all, people die unnecessary deaths. Because some people are maximizing their profits, millions of others suffer the consequences. And then, after shipping American jobs overseas, these few conniving corporate criminals label their victims as "too lazy to work". Let's say they know what "slave wages" means....it means that they will be lucky if they and their families survive even after slaving away for the master slavers for years.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#19

Thanks for the great links, Vegasman56 and DAnneMarc! I can't wait for the International criminals to be prosecuted! (note: that's not to be taken to mean that I will ever do anything stupid like some personal physical acts against the war criminals....got to be careful with double entendres...or I might get some unwelcome visitors...if you know what I mean. All we have to do is to give them an excuse.) ;-}

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#20

kloro: When I traveled down to Guadalajara a number of times on business, on my off hours, I went down to the areas around Lake Chapala. Many of those communities, I've heard, were non-Mexican expatriates who have retired down there. Many of those houses looked very much like fairly decent houses. Big green lawns...well kept up. It was a very nice place.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#21

bdangr: You gave a very good response. I've never actually been to Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Finland. I have been to The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and other places in Europe including Slovakia. All very nice places. I think more people should visit these countries to see how nice they are. It would keep myopic Americans from believing the kind of slop about other countries that Fox News propaganda puts out. The danger is that they just might discover just how unsuperior, in so many ways, they are to other countries. If one has always lived in a pig sty, and were unaware of other places to live, one might think that one is living in the best of all possible worlds.

In lieu of actually going to these places, one can easily virtually go to these places using Google Earth. You can zoom down to a particular street..go to "street view"...and virtually walk down the street while doing 360 degree panoramic scans of the street and houses. Perhaps, most people already know this, but perhaps, some people don't.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 5 weeks ago
#22

AIW RE#7 -- I think the "great America" Kend is talking about is that America from 1933 to 1980. You know that time when the top marginal tax rate was 91%.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 5 weeks ago
#23

AIW RE#7 -- I think the "great America" Kend is talking about is that America from 1933 to 1980. You know that time when the top marginal tax rate was 91%.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 5 weeks ago
#24

geochand RE #11 -- I am sure you watch too much Faux news. That being said how can you say that about American workers when they work more hours than any other nation on earth (well, at least among the OECD countries)

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 5 weeks ago
#25

geochand RE #17 (before I forget thanks for contributing and making the blog more interesting). In Thom's and my world (and I think in this blog) you are confusing capitalism with the market place. Capitalism is making money off of money. Since the only reason money was created (4000 years ago or so), was to be able to collect taxes for the commons, making money off of money sounds evil at the core.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 5 weeks ago
#26

phanomf8: I experienced the shunning of America while I was in the military many years ago. The US has been at the game for a long time and has earned the disdain of other countries around the world for a long time now. It seems many in the US are either not aware of it or just shut themselves up in their own caves of ignorance just to see the shadows on the wall that are projected by propagandists skilled at manipulating people.

cland5556's picture
cland5556 5 years 18 weeks ago
#27

Re: RichardofJeffersonCity comment

Unless I missed something, Nash's last book was published by Crown Publishing Group. Crown Publishing Group is a subsidiary of Random House, the world's largest book publisher.​

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

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to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."