Does ‘Business as Usual’ Mean ‘Anything Goes?’

Rolling Stones’, Matt Taibbi, described the 2008 financial greed at Goldman Sachs as, “…a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

The 1987 movie, Wall Street, coined the classic line, “Greed is good!” And, the sequel (post 2008), has the main character observing to an eager audience, “… and apparently, now it’s legal.”

This year, a similar lecture, as if we’ve gotten mass amnesia, was given to University of Waterloo students by Kevin O’Leary – who Reader’s Digest magazine called, “…the media darling of cutthroat entrepreneurism.”

“There’s talk on the street; it sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you” –
New Kid in Town by the Eagles

In his speech, he said that, “… the first job of business is to create wealth for the shareholders… the DNA of business is not to solve society’s problems.”

However, current figures show that businesses, give more than $1 billion to the United Way throughout North America (20% of its target). But, these contributions negatively affect the ‘wealth for the shareholders’, so why do they do it? Maybe, it’s because you’re never a wrong… doing the right thing.

Still, Mr. O’Leary loves to quote from ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu: a key point states, “All warfare’s based on deception.” So, he tells his audience, “Business is war” – an apparent nod to “Greed is good” – as if selfish ambition hasn’t shown itself to cause every kind of personal and worldly disorder.

“With every mistake, we must surely be learning” – While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison

He added,“Your job will be to go out and salt the earth that your competitor walks on, destroy their market share and pour boiling oil over them.”
Are we expected to buy into this adversarial business life philosophy? It’s a mind-set based on a ‘win-lose’ outcome; but, a ‘win-win’ attitude creates results based on mutual abundance. However, I wonder who’s the “winner” or “loser” if those students, who see him as a role model, can’t differentiate the hype from the substance.

“Too many people preaching practices
Don’t let ’em tell you what you wanna be”–
Too Many People
by Paul McCartney

In January 2014, Yahoo News reported that Kevin O’Leary thinks that the global wealth gap is ‘fantastic news’. “…it inspires everybody … to look up to the one percent and say … I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.”

“There’s room at the top they’re telling you still/ But first you must learn how to smile as you kill/ If you want to be like the folks on the hill” – Working Class Hero by John Lennon 

“All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate…I chose love.” – Johnny Cash

So, if it’s true your treasure is also where your heart is, then that’s something you don’t want being ‘lose-lose’.

Fred Parry                  The Music In Me
July 2015

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  1. Hi Fred,
    Great story! And very poignant lyrical quotes from musicians who themselves are and were part of the 1%, and obviously made it there without the guidance of Mr. O’Leary’s advice.

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