Whilst the New Wilberforce Alliance proports to seek ways and means of delivering an end to the modern-day slavery of greed, we ask ourselves the question on a daily basis, what exactly is greed ? How do you define it ? Where does it manifest itself most apparently and with most force ? Well, yet again, part of the answer to that question, probably a large part, is to be found in the financial pages of the papers. This particular scandal which has just broken in India, has seen the arrest of the Subhinder Singh Prem, Reebok’s former Managing Director, and Vishnu Bhagat, former COO, on charges of fraud and theft on a gigantic scale. Adidas, the parent company of Reebok, have estimated that the scam involving false sales reports and fudged accounting, may well cost the company in excess of £100m.
The question that looms largest in my mind, is what on earth possessed these two men to perpetrate such an extraordinary crime ?
Were they personally strapped for cash ? Were they unsatisfied with their lowly ranking within the company, or was their social status hard to bear ? Perhaps their wives were running short on Fabergè eggs ?
It just seems beyond comprehension, that two men who are at the helm of a successful multi-national, presumably paid figures many many times above the national average, should feel the need to attempt to pull of a scam of this scale.
Obviously the accused are denying the charges against them, and presumably, months if not years will pass before investigators are able to get to the bottom of the case, and the Courts will get to hear the evidence. This will give them time to shift any ill-gotten gains to safer hiding places, and to use any such funds to “bolster” their defence. It will be interesting to see if they actually do time.
But returning to the motivation behind this story, my conclusion is that there can really only be one answer, and that is greed. Pure unadulterated greed. Men who have so much, can only think of more, more and yet more. Is this a sickness ? Is the senseless accumulation of a patrimony far beyond anything that you or your children could possibly spend in several lifetimes, a worthwhile pursuit ?
There is no doubt that this is the malady that afflicts a great many of the men and women whose actions and instincts determine the economies of many nations, and by consequence the lives of millions of people. Should not the original sin of greed, be more closely monitored and indeed confronted by government and society ?
The instinct or call it what you will, that greed provokes in powerful men, can only be viewed in my opinion, as the single biggest threat to our ability to manage the world’s ever diminishing resources, in a responsible and effective way. Acting like small children grabbing handfuls of sweets at a party, unconcerned that there will not be enough for all to share, is not going to see us through what is clearly in terms of both economy and ecology, the darkest hour we have ever faced.
Seeking a remedy to both the cause and the effect of greed at not just at this level, but even beginning with the sweet grabbing tots at their parties, has be one of the principal tasks of the New Wilberforce Alliance, both as a movement, and as a daily practice of it’s members.