Posted By Randy Jones on March 30, 2009
Yes, we should hate the Ponzi-scheming, bonus-bingeing, financial-engineering, value-destroying, tax-evading rich. The Madoffs, Stanfords, Kosloskis, Ebberses and Skillings of the world, who created their wealth and all-too-lavish lifestyles by perpetrating fraud and stealing from others rightfully should be detested. We should hate the Wall Street bonus-grabbers, and we should question the shadowy world of huge hedge funds and private equity wealth. But we should not tar all the rich with the same brush.
Far from the trimmed hedges of Beverly Hills, Palm Beach, and the Hamptons, and even farther from the canyons of Wall Street, live America’s greatest natural resource—the rooted rich, the small- and medium-size business owners who create jobs and change the landscape of their communities for the better. Yes, many of these have also gotten rich in the process, but isn’t that what America stands for? We should not hate those hard-working, value-creating, and job-creating Americans who prove that the American Dream is alive. Those spirited individuals who created their success the old fashioned way: by earning it and consequently making the landscape of their towns richer for their efforts. We should not only celebrate the rooted rich; we should learn from them. One of the greatest lessons from the great American success stories that I interviewed for my book is that these self-made men and women moor themselves to morals. See RMIT Commandment No. 9 in The Richest Man in Town. Bernard Madoff, Alan Stanford, Jeff Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, and Dennis Kosloski form a growing fraternity of moral failures that perhaps we shouldn’t hate (after all, that wouldn’t be very charitable, would it?), but we should never forget their misdeeds, and we should make certain that we never let folks like them take advantage of us again. Remember, just like Mama said, we are judged by the company we keep.