Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Greed

The former Prime Minister of Malaysia has been accused of corruption on a grand scale, and not just by his political opponents:
American prosecutors have accused Mr. Najib, 64, of diverting into his personal bank account $731 million from the state investment fund, which he supervised for years. Money siphoned from the fund, known as 1MDB, was then spent on luxury goods, such as a $27.3 million pink diamond necklace that was worn by Mr. Najib’s wife, American investigators said.

The United States Justice Department said that at least $4.5 billion from 1MDB was laundered through American financial institutions and misspent by Mr. Najib, his family and associates.
I find stories like this one shocking because of the lack of limits. Ok, so Najib wanted to be rich; lots of people do. But $4.5 billion? Incuding more than $700 million just transferred to his personal account? What was he thinking? Surely with control of the investment fund he could have made tens of millions in ways that would have been a lot harder to prove against him. Heck, he could have operated in a completely legal way and just steered enough to certain friends to guarantee himself a seat in some Singapore investment bank when he retired.

But for some people being rich is not enough. They have to be mega-rich, giant yacht rich, rich completely beyond reason. Or maybe the taking becomes an obsession in itself; last year I stole $100 million and got away with it, so this year I'll steal a billion. Like this:
The Malaysian police said last week that they had seized cash, jewelry, purses and other valuables worth as much as $273 million from properties of Mr. Najib and Ms. Rosmah. The catalog of seized jewelry included 567 handbags, 2,200 rings and 14 tiaras.
I find it utterly weird.

3 comments:

G. Verloren said...

There is no greed to match that of a dragon. Wealth makes you crazy, makes you arrogant, and makes you cruel.

The more money you have, the more you believe you deserve it all - and that consequently other people with less wealth are less deserving.

You begin to think of yourself as innately superior, and others as lesser beings who are beneath you. After all, if they were your equals, surely they'd be just as rich?

And once you believe you're better than everyone else, and that you deserve ever more wealth and riches, it becomes easy to justify ever more ruthless pursuits of wealth. Why not exploit the weak? They deserve to be exploited! It's the natural order of things that the worthy will grow richer, and the undeserving will not prosper! It' their own fault for being lazy lesser beings! If they don't like it, they can just work hard to become rich, like you did!

And of course, anyone who objects is a thief or a charlatan who is after your gold! They're just jealous of your might and grandeur! After all, you are perfection! It's only natural that the annoying insects that scuttle about beneath you would be envious of your splendor, and wish to rob you of your glittering hoard!

~~~

Some days, I wonder if we shouldn't try to start a political party, and call it something like the Dragonslayer Party, with a mission of unseating the dragons that rule over us...

David said...

It's a fascinating question, why anyone would accumulate so much. I can hypothesize many answers. Perhaps the most obvious is the possibility that Najib imagined himself to be competing to join a very exclusive, worldwide club of ultrabillionaires. Every extra billion, whether he had any material use for it or not, was that much more of a credential for entry into this exclusive set.

Then there is the issue of family and hangers-on. How many dependents does he have? How dependent is he, in fact, on keeping them dependent on him? Perhaps some of these folks see their own positions with him as requiring them to continually egg him on to greater and greater thievery. If you've always urged him to further crimes, can you suddenly switch gears and counsel restraint? If Najib slows down the thievery roller-coaster, will he still need you? Etc.

But other, more inner psychological possibilities suggest themselves. Perhaps any sense of restraint or caution made Najib doubt himself--was he really just the chump he always feared he was (or that his mother and/or father always thought he was, etc., etc.)?

And maybe there's a hoarding aspect. I have 100 pairs of shoes, but maybe I'll need others? What if I get a fourth house somewhere? Won't I need to stock it with a full set of shoes?

All this is just speculation. You'd really need to know a lot more about Mr. Najib, his family and their history, his upbringing, the personnel and inner dynamics of his administration and staff, the meaning of wealth and accumulation in his surroundings, etc.

leif said...

waitasec. you have room to be shocked at greed? am i that cynical?