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"One might feel tempted to refer to it as The Billionaire's Greed …"

I'm no billionaire myself, so I speak here as an observer of billionaire behavior rather than as an actual player. I often wonder what sort of moral or ethical compass guides billionaire behavior. I'm certain their's differs from mine and also from what any of the rest of us might recognize as normal or regular, but I'm not saying that they lack morals or ethics, just that their's differ from yours and mine. I feel the same revulsion you probably feel when watching some of their antics, for they always seem to be up to some surreptitious something, and while most of them seem to sneak around as if embarrassing themselves, they're often found out and exposed, so we generally know or strongly suspect what they're up to. Of course they deny even the obvious. I figure that response might be part of a creed, The Billionaire's Creed.

A creed informs an incumbent of both their intentions and their responsibilities, such as they are.
It codifies their beliefs, reminding them of what they're supposed to be believing when they engage with the world. I think of creeds as oaths, promises to one's self. While a standard oath might focus upon selflessness, no rule insists that all creeds must follow that pattern. Some, The Billionaire's Creed presenting a fine example, seem the very antitheses of selflessness. One might feel tempted to refer to it as The Billionaire's Greed, though that derision seems too value-laden to encourage deep understanding. I'll attempt to remain value neutral, uncritical of even elements that obviously stink halfway to high heaven, in the broader interest of simply describing their creed.

1- Pump like Hell until the authorities show up, then deny everything.

An old farmer friend, explaining how water rights work in practice, passed the above phrase to me. Whatever the law might allow, the owner of a water right traditionally pumped just as much as he pleased and denied ever exceeding any limit if caught. The likelihood of ever getting caught was slim. The likelihood of anyone finding enough evidence to support any judicial ruling or fine, even slimmer, especially if the rights-holder steadfastly refused to cooperate. Like the water rights holder's response, The Billionaire's Creed emplores the billionaire to do whatever the damned hell he pleases and deny everything when challenged. A humbler man might find this approach to life personally embarrassing, even humiliating, and irresponsible. This reaction might explain why the humbler man never gets rich, for wealth comes from bold action, from doing whatever you damn well please, not from passively admitting personal shortcomings and making retribution or demonstrating contrition.

2- Land the first (and the last) blow.

As a billionaire, one must perceive every engagement as a competition. Screw win/win, that principle exists solely for losers. One may feign egality, but one must never buy into the perspective that anyone might prove to be one's equal. You are the master of every encounter. Whatever you might do to ensure eventual victory serves as fair game. Lie, "cheat", materially misrepresent, one must be in it for one's self and for no other. Charity fogs the brain. Humility dulls the sword. Squash them like the bug they are.

3- You are the greater good.

Since you are the master of this universe, your interests quite naturally represent the greatest good. You are above the law because the law was created to keep everyone else from coloring into your space. You may do anything you're willing to pay for legal representation to deny. You have the power to hold up any litigation forever. You may admit culpability only if they agree to offer you a personally favorable deal. If you made tens of billions from the deal, offer to pay a fine of perhaps a mil. You'll rarely need to agree to pay more because they (snicker snicker) think a million's a lot of money.

… This posting represents a rough first draft. The Billionaire's Creed might well become its own little book. I'll return to this fascinating topic after some concerted cogitation and more observation.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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