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Greedy, Guv?

Not Guilty

Me? Never. Honest. I’ll deny it to the death. Here, I’ve got samples of how generous I am, enough to counter all charges of stinginess. Blimey, there I go, slippery me: calling it stingy, or mean, already. Flip the coin over though; looks like greedy on the other side. But I can play this game until the world’s riches fail us all.

The same resistance appeared in response to an old post equating our treatment of the planet with Bernard Madoff’s scam. That fraud was emotive, preying as it did on trust and integrity, the very gifts we offer to politicians and leaders in general. This raises a whole issue about our assumptions and how trustworthy these people are as they find more reasons to dither in Copenhagen.

But I’m into greed, a murkier motive and one that lesser scammers than Mr. Madoff exploit. How do they, coming from nowhere and with no credentials, persuade us to part with our cash? And they do frequently. Are their victims entirely innocent, vulnerable, white-haired pensioners losing everything, as the Press would have us believe? Who really are they? Or more to the point, what are the victims being at the time?

What do they expect to get? I can use the present tense: I’m sure it’s going on right now. Basically, what sort of attitude sinks way too much of its capital into a no-questions-asked, get-rich-quick scheme? No questions asked of its financial footing, let alone its ethical basis. What’s this money doing? Dumping plastic in the Pacific?

There is a mean-and-greedy grapevine, where birds of that feather feed. I admit I know of such a place. A few years back I dabbled in HYIP. I was in for a few hundred (I was greedy but not stupid!), lost a few and still have some tied up in e-gold. That method of digital bullion ownership seems to be a big enough scam in itself, apart from being the only gateway into these Ponzi schemes.

The scammers and swindlers inhabit this sort of dangerous region, where wise investors do not flock. The careful know that predators will stalk their prey on the periphery and won’t need subtle tactics to do so.

Careful. Full of care. Generous? Yes, even an investor can be generous and it pays: studies on the Prisoner’s Dilemma show that it’s not even exploitable by the greedy. The system has a synergy and generosity is infectious too.

This works not only for money but also time, effort and commitment. The conservation movement has these in spades: its action doesn’t directly benefit our own species, let alone race, religion, country, clan, family or self. Is this Phoebe’s “truly selfless good deed”? Maybe not truly selfless: if the planetary bubble bursts, we burst with it.

But it don’t sound too greedy, neither, guv’nor.

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