The Catholic Church has published a list of 7 new mortal sins – Now I don’t disagree with the moral tone of the Church – for example, I still regard The Catechism of the Catholic Church which states that €œimmediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell€ to be psychologically plausible. However, I do not agree with current list in its entirety.
However, I would like to speak in defense of one of them which is “accumulating excessive wealth”.
I have been doing a series of articles here about Greedy Guts Itself and then Greedy Guts US and these articles certainly can make a strong case for Excessive Accumulation of Wealth being a Moral if not also a Mortal Sin. Here are the reasons why so:
1)Those few earning$100million to $2billion in annual compensation(hereinafter, the Hyper-compensateds) in an organizations say volumes about team worth and fairness throughout the organization;
2)In order to achieve Hyper-compensation, many either charge monopoly/oligopoly rates for products/services rendered and/or create huge surpluses by cutting off employment to tens of thousands or reducing wages and compensation on a take-it-or-leave-it basis to equal numbers of “our most valuable asset, our employees” and/or saddle the company with a huge debt load at the expense of present bondholders and future stock or bondholders and/or pass on substantial environmental costs to the Commons;
3)Many Hyper-compensateds avoid paying their fair share of taxes by taking compensation in lower capital gains taxed packages and/or by offshoring their incomes; tough luck to the various governments protecting their wealth in its various forms;
4)Many Hyper-compensateds have setup near riskless schemes where they are hyper-compensated because they have set up near riskless ventures such as private equity buyouts that offload all the risks on bondholders, tens of thousands of fired and left-over employees who must keep the ship afloat at large new levels of work without compensation, and precipitously higher Federal and state government costs with sharply declining revenues and greater welfare roles. Meantime if the venture falters, the hyper-compensateds have setup a riskless exit strategy of a)continued hyper-compensation despite failing performance, golden parachute double or triple hyper-compensation payments regardless of how well they and their organizations perform, and the assurance that in one or two years or less they will be able to get back into the game at even higher compensations;
5)The Hyper-compensated could not give an iota of care about what is happening in the social system where professionals such as doctors, judges, military officers, design engineers, and many others whose decisions are not riskless and often carry life or death consequences are being compensated at 1/500th to 1/5000th of the riskless Hyper-compensateds;
6)To repeat, the Hyper-compensated don’t give one whit of concern to the fact that 6.4% of the US population takes in more than 30% of the income. In fact, they feel it should be even more. And, if present trends continue it will happen this next year. And, if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent, for many years to come;
7) Monopoly and/or riskless return drives out innovation and emergence of new opportunities as risky investments can’t compete. In a similar fashion, good management and managers are driven out by monopolists and riskless return artists. These parties will eventually be displaced but at a great time and cost to the economy.
In essence, the Hyper-compensateds are experts in managing bubbles to their advantage. They have been engineering corporate and financial bubbles of ever greater size and frequency and leaving the Commons and or governments to clean up after. Now they are creating more serious social bubbles. For example, it is no surprise that the rise of Fukuyama’s the Great Social Disruption is a phenomenon of the latter part of the 20th century and running strongly into the 21st. So if we let the Hyper-compensateds continue they may well go to Hell but in the process of leaving them unchecked we may let them also create Hell on Earth as well.