Need money really be the root of all evils?

In the wake of the financial crisis that shook the world in 2007-2008, there has been a domino-effect type of wave that has spread around the world. Beginning in the US, it reached European shores, exposing the dark side of similar happenings in several countries there. It then rolled on to the rest of the world, lifting the veil over several other countries to reveal loopholes and weaknesses in the financial systems that allowed the unscrupulous to bleed them to their advantage. It was big players that were mainly involved, notably banks that then had to be bailed out by governments.

It was all about fast buck and big money. The only incident that comes somewhere near approaching that scale locally (Rs 880 million) was the 2003 MCB scandal involving NPF deposits which, it will be recalled, is still not resolved after nearly ten years. In an article in this paper last week, it was pointed out how the Lords of the Privy Council drew ‘attention to the hostility to which (the accused) Mr Lesage was treated when answering MCB’s counsel’s question during the trial…’ Why was this so?

The arrests and mishaps that have taken place since, including the death of certain protagonists such as Bernard Madoff in the US, do not seem to have dampened the ardour of subsequent predators. In fact, more and more scandals and scams seem to have erupted, such that they have become practically endemic the world over. Along with these, there are probably thousands of instances of dirty business involving money that take place daily everywhere. Note that we have deliberately not used the expression dirty money: it’s not the money that is dirty, it’s the people and the business they conduct which are dirty.

Among the daily fare that we are served, three recent local events caught our attention as representative examples of the profound ills that are associated with illicit money in our society. They are the prostitution ring that is still being unravelled, allegedly involving amongst others an ex-high cadre of the sugar industry, and targeting underage girls where even a mother was finger-pointed, with sums of money traded over the bodies of the unfortunate girls. Next is the matter concerning bookies that has shaken the court system of the country, followed by further revelations about the Ponzi scam that hit the headlines some weeks ago.

In addition, there are several examples of corruptions of various types that have surfaced and been reported to ICAC, and in some cases the corrupt individuals have been convicted by the courts for the bribes they have taken. We will not go so far as to say we are living in a ‘bribe republic’, an epithet which has been used in respect of another country, but we will fast approach this status if we do not manage to stop the spread of the rot in our society.

After an extensive and in-depth analysis of the global financial crisis some years ago, a journalist of a reputed magazine came to the lofty conclusion that the factor underlying it, that caused it in fact, was the greed of the people who perpetrated the crime. As if we did not know!

It is our inexhaustible greed that blinds us to the fact that moneyed folks are not necessarily the best or the happiest, that the more money we have the more are our worries if we cannot handle these sums as we should — either in safekeeping it or in its judicious use, and that we can only ever use only so much money to meet our basic needs and to live in reasonable comfort.

Nothing wrong with having money; better still is to know how to earn it honestly, what we want it for, set our goals according to our capacities and means, and make sure that our ends match our means. And forget about the Joneses.

No, money need not be the root of all evils; it is our greed that makes it so, that creates the evils. Even if this is a reality worth reminding ourselves of repeatedly, it is still worth doing so if only for our own sake, to keep us from temptation and from the desire to keep up with the Joneses.

* Published in print edition on 2 August  2013

An Appeal

Dear Reader

65 years ago Mauritius Times was founded with a resolve to fight for justice and fairness and the advancement of the public good. It has never deviated from this principle no matter how daunting the challenges and how costly the price it has had to pay at different times of our history.

With print journalism struggling to keep afloat due to falling advertising revenues and the wide availability of free sources of information, it is crucially important for the Mauritius Times to survive and prosper. We can only continue doing it with the support of our readers.

The best way you can support our efforts is to take a subscription or by making a recurring donation through a Standing Order to our non-profit Foundation.
Thank you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *