Why Greed Can Be A Good Thing

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In many cultures greed is frowned upon. But is greed really a bad thing? Greed is defined as a strong desire for more. What is wrong with having a strong desire for more? If you ask me, I would say nothing? If one has a strong desire for something, and does all he can to…

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In many cultures greed is frowned upon. But is greed really a bad thing? Greed is defined as a strong desire for more. What is wrong with having a strong desire for more? If you ask me, I would say nothing? If one has a strong desire for something, and does all he can to get it, do you still call that person greedy? I think not. Were the problem really lies is the fact is the methods men take to get whatever thing they have a strong desire for. They are willing to kill, steal and destroy to attain higher levels of power and wealth.

The need for more has always been a fundamental characteristic of Human Nature. In the dark and middle ages, it was all part of political intrigue to kill, steal and destroy to achieve more wealth and more political power. At these periods in history social, political and economic institution where controlled at the discretion of specific individuals – a Monarch or a ruling council – so it was very easy to manipulate the system for one’s interest. This insatiable desire for more led to the great megalomaniacal tyrants of the first and second millennia – names like Theophylact, Medici, Borgia and Tudor would forever remind the world of the inherent dark side of human nature. Even the great German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck was known to have said “Patriotism was probably the motive force of but a few statesmen… much more frequently, it was the ambition, the desire to command, to be admired and to become famous”

But modernism came with it, institutions that operate independent of human discretion to a large extent. The concept of “checks upon checks”; The Executive, Judiciary and Legislative arms of government seize to be in the power of one man. These institutions existed to check the excesses of one another. But in many parts of the world there are many places in which these institutions have become very weak.

An example is the Nigerian state. The institutions that are meant to curb this inherent dark side of human nature have become very powerless. And because men have an insatiable desire for more they succumb to their greed and engage in corrupt activities for their own personal interests, institutionalized corruption abounds within the Nigerian State. It is no longer an exclusive act for corruption to be within the paradigms of the political elite or the old wealthy aristocratic families; corrupt practices today abound from the local bank managers to the school janitors. The average Nigerian does not see how he can get ahead without engaging in some illicit activity.

So the question is how do we set up a system that would curb corrupt practices borne out of greed in the Nigeria State?

It might just be time to use the greed of Nigerians against Nigerians. Bribery is a major pin in the ass of the Nigerian State. It is common for road users to give traffic policemen money to get out of a road violation ticket. Or for an unscrupulous multinational corporation to bribe Safety and Environmental officials to look the other way as they destroy ecosystems, by not adhering to expensive industry standards.

This is where I call for the enactment of the Bribe, Report and Acquire Act. This Act of law is meant to sow discord between the person giving the bribe –from here on known as the ‘briber’; and the person taking the bribe – from here in known as the ‘bribed’.

Though the Bill that would eventually become an Act would be a loop-hole proof document, the main gist of the Act, is to create a level of distrust between the briber and the bribed when they conduct their illicit activity. The law would state that: If anyone collects a bribe or gives a bribe, the first to report to the nearest police station gets 95% of the other’s total net worth. When an illegal transaction has gone down between the briber and the bribed, he or she who reports first essentially bankrupts the other person.

Now it is easy to say that there exists a bond between the briber and bribed, so no one would snitch on each other. But we know this not to be true, because no one is happy giving someone a bribe, and sometimes those who collect bribes are hungry fellows who just want more.

For example, if a rich man wants to give a poor bricklayer some money to look the other way, as he flouts industry standard building practices, and this Bribe, Report and Acquire Bill has already been signed into law, the bricklayer knows his fortune changes the moment he reports the bribe and the rich man would know that the moment he gives the bribe to the bricklayer, all his wealth could be taken away from him if the bricklayer reported him. He would first not have the incentive to bribe, because he could lose all his wealth and could go to jail for flouting mandatory safety practices.

And still to those who believe that the bond between the briber and the bribed is strong, how about the case of snitching within the mafia. In the mafia the rules are clear: ‘nark’ and die. But this does not stop members of the Cosa Nostra from snitching on one another as long as law enforcement guarantees them and their families’ safety.

The Bribe, Report and Acquire if well enforced and examples of cases where a serious wealth transfer just occurred between the individual that gave bribe and the individual that received bribe, many Nigerian would take dressing. Corrupt practices through bribery would become a thing of the past and the country can gorge ahead by dealing with other issues.

Image via NaijaLoaded.com.ng

Responses

  1. Blaqlotus
    This is a nice piece. And I totally agree with you, bringing this Act into the Constitution would curb Corruption, which is the fundamental problem with Nigeria.
  2. Larz
    Nice idea but I doubt it will see the light of the day in the current shape for these reasons
    a) hard to implement
    b)govt that enforces it will not get much back unless it is heavily taxed
    c) not fair or equitable. Does to punishment justify the crime
    d) because punishment it based on he said/ she said. It is easy to frame someone. For example, Mr A asks Mr B to give him some money, tapes it and says it is bribery or some ellaborate scam like that
    e) no judiciary system will endorse a punishment that allows another criminal profit from a crime. They might in exceptional circumstances but what you are proposing is that this be the norm.
    f) it wud never be acceptable by international standards
    1. Tam
      I appreciate your criticism, and every one of the can be indeed handled, easily.

      “For hard to implement”: Nothing is hard to implement once the political will exists. The main problem might be the Police – especially when cases are reported to them – but I have written extensively on how to curb corruption in the police, and if this is done, then indeed it could be easily implemented.

      “govt that enforces it will not get much back unless it is heavily taxed”: What is the governments business? Most monies are taxed by the government. It might not be a 95% wealth transfer. It could be a 50% transfer to the government, 40% to the individual that reported, etc. In fact the government would be glad about a workable system that can stop corrupt practices through bribery.

      “not fair or equitable. Does to punishment justify the crime”: This really has nothing to do with anything. There have been anti-graft laws in this country and people still commit fraud in waves. A law is toothless unless it is enforced. In the 60s and 70s, most of South Asia, suffered from heroine smugglers. So the governments of these countries set up laws that gave the death penalty for drug smuggling. After this was implemented and enforced, and many scapegoats were executed the drug trade in Asia reduced drastically, allowing their governments to think of other things. Nobody is saying do it now, but after the bill has been signed into law and it is enforced the corrupt practices of bribery would reduce dramatically.

      “because punishment it based on he said/ she said. It is easy to frame someone. For example, Mr A asks Mr B to give him some money, tapes it and says it is bribery or some ellaborate scam like that”: This is so easy to deal with. There exists bank statements, he said/ she said would be irrelevant in this case. Surveillance can even be taken as proof, especially video surveillance, like the Otedola and Lawan’s case. Indeed this would be easily dealt with. especially when I said that “the Bill that would eventually become an Act would be a loop-hole proof document”.

      “no judiciary system will endorse a punishment that allows another criminal profit from a crime. They might in exceptional circumstances but what you are proposing is that this be the norm”: This is where u are wrong, many Judicial Systems have been known to cut deals with criminals to get more criminals for reduced punishment. The FBI that does this a lot is under the Department of Justice in the US oooo.. that is like out Ministry of Justice. This is a standard way of cleaning the up filth from the country.

      and Finally

      “it wud never be acceptable by international standards”: Who gives 2 f#*ks about acceptance of International Standards.Because of Lee Kuan Yew autocratic regime in Singapore, the international community want to make him a pariah but when they saw that indeed the country is working they began to respect him. In Singapore it is a crime to chew gum on the streets, because of the belief that u might throw it on the floor when u are done, thus littering the street. You think the international community cares? All they want is that ur economy works and ur people are happy. If you are a Rawlings or a Yew, they are happy, it is when you are a Mugabe, or the dude in Gambia that they begin to have issues with you.

      Hope have been able to answer all your questions. But like I said the Bill that will eventually become a Law would deal with all the loop holes you have mentioned. Bills are usually 1000 pages long, I cannot address all that in a 1000 worded article.

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