Gordon Gekko Was Wrong

Greed is not good.  I never understood that statement; that may be because I’ve never seen the movie “Wall Street” or it’s sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.  In a speech last year, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Italian Senate  “Greed Market has substituted free market” and went on the say “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty”.  A report on Sixty Minutes last night makes those words ring with truth. 

It seems that in 2002, an employee of GlaxoSmithKline started telling her bosses that there were major problems with a manufacturing facility the company contracted with in Puerto Rico.  Problems with sterile environments, irregularities and even mix-ups with drugs.  In one case, an anti-bacterial ointment was supposed to made in a sealed tank to prevent contamination.  Workers were seen opening the tank and sticking their bodies in to scrape the walls of the tank with paddles.   This kind of thing went on for months.  The employee in the report was let go in one GSK’s down-sizing moves, so she turned the evidence that didn’t seem to move her bosses over the FDA who executed a search warrant, shut down the plant and seized hundreds of millions of dollars worth of defective drugs.  In case you’re wondering how the above incident proves Cardinal Bertone’s words, I say this.  When asked why the workers were violating the sterility of the anti-bacterial creme, she answered “It saved money”. 

This is disturbing to me, because A)A few years back I was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer and I took one the drugs mentioned and B) my daughter and I have medical conditions which require medication and I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s no way GSK is the only company doing this.  And, it’s not just drugs that are a problem.  What about toys being recalled because of high levels of lead in the paint used on them?  Or, glasses given away as a promotion for a large fast food chain with unacceptable levels of cadmium in the paint?  The list of this stuff is long and unfortunately, it’s not just corporate America that’s infected with greed.  It’s widespread at the personal level, too.  Every time we allow the wealthiest 2% of Americans a tax cut while those on the opposite end of the spectrum struggle to survive, that’s greed.  Every time we complain about healthcare reform while people in this country die from easily cured diseases and go broke in the process, that’s greed.  Every time we drive past someone panhandling and assume the worst so we don’t have to dig up a little change, that’s greed.  And what’s so damn good about that?