Greed is NEVER Good

In the 1987 film “Wall Street,” its antihero Gordon Gekko declared that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”


Picture from http://www.viewclips.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Wall-Street-1987.jpg

This chutzpah of a movie line came to my mind while monitoring the news about the latest “double-your-money-pyramid-scam,” Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc. It offered clients the chance to earn a 30-40-percent return on investment in eight days, or a much higher (and even more improbable) 50-80-percent ROI in 18 to 20 days [2] Predictably, Aman crashed… and it collapsed with a loud noise.


Sadly, before its fall, other than the frenzied word of mouth from initially satisfied investors, Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co invested (and allegedly lost) P2-million in Aman. “I learned that my political enemies had also invested. I was planning to use the money to support the barangay officials in next year’s elections.” His act apparently emboldened others to do so though the mayor gave the seemingly lame excuse that he warned his constituents beforehand. “I told them [last April] that the scheme was too good to be true. But still, they took their chances”. Like leader, like people. Aman operated without a business permit at first. Instead of closing it, Co claimed, “he was forced to issue a temporary permit” and even gave this “tortured” explanation: “Our dilemma was that if we go after the firm, we would also be going against our constituents.” I agree with the Inquirer that Co really needs to explain his involvement with Aman.

Manuel Amalilio, founder of Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc. Picture from Phil. Daily Inquirer.

I fear that the reported 15,000 victims (ranging from poor street vendors to rich politicians) bled dry of P12-billion hard-earned money could just be the tip of the pyramid. We only know what is reported. It is possible that there could be more victims who just decided to shut up because the amount they lost was just small.  (At the beginning, Aman asked only for P2,000 as initial investment. But, of course, for a tricycle driver, that’s a week’s earnings.) Others might be ashamed to admit that they have been duped due to their desire for more returns. It is estimated that, in Pagadian City alone, more than 90% of businessmen were victimized. Its economic impact is yet to be felt. The Department of Justice is now investigating reports that local executives even used government funds to invest. According to the editorial of Inquirer, “The dizzying rise and collapse of the venture has already claimed a few lives. The NBI said ‘some of the victims’ committed suicide, and the other day a sales agent for Aman Futures was killed in a town in Zamboanga del Sur; the houses of at least two relatives of the ex-driver who managed the company have already been torched, so it is possible that the killing is a consequence of the scam.”  After losing his retirement pay, Pagadian City school supervisor Cristituto Potayre committed suicide. The Inquirer editorial grimly predicts, With the life savings of thousands of people lost to the scam, no one can exclude the possibility of more violence in the near future.

"THEY WANT THEIR MONEY BACK. More than 8,000 victims of Aman Futures double-your-money scam in Pagadian City troop to the NBI office to file complaints for the recovery of their money. RICHEL V. UMEL/INQUIRER MINDANAO"
Greed is never good. Greed is always wrong. It clouds judgment instead of clarifying. (The “investors” forgot or even ignored the now oft-quoted cliché, “If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.”) Yes, it “cuts through” but leaves a gaping, pestering wound. It captures people in a dungeon of regret. Instead of “the upward surge,” it’s a downward spiral. What Gekko said is exactly “night-and-day” opposite of what the Bible warned us about greed. “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NLT) It is as if the Apostle Paul had the investors and the incorporators of Aman in mind when he penned those words. The desire to be rich per se is not wrong. It becomes wrong when we long to be rich at all costs. It all boils down to greed.  

Brethren, Gekko was wrong. The Bible is right.

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