Scoot: Will greed kill Americans with COVID-19?


Greed may be part of what drives a healthy capitalistic economy - but is greed always good?

In the movie, “Wall Street,” Michael Douglas’ character - Gordon Gekko - delivered a memorable soliloquy on greed and the economy. Here is part of that moment in the movie when Gekko was addressing stockholders:

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed - for lack of a better word - is good.
Greed is right.
Greed works.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge - has marked the upward surge of mankind.

But is greed always good?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo again expressed deep frustration over the sudden jump in the price of ventilators and PPE items. Governor Cuomo explained that the desperate need for ventilators throughout the country has caused to cost to skyrocket. During one news conference, Governor Cuomo said that ventilators cost about $25,000 each - but when the coronavirus pandemic was spreading, the cost went up to $45,000. Perhaps those specific numbers are off - but reports of face masks costing under $1 each to now $5 to $7 each further reveals that good old-fashioned capitalistic greed is a challenge to the cost of saving lives.

I am part of America’s capitalistic economy; and, therefore, I strongly defend it and the role the greed plays.  But during a national emergency in which every city and every state are frantically trying to find the resources and the money to obtain items vital to saving American lives - should the manufacturers of necessary medical equipment and PPE items be jacking up the prices? Governor Cuomo also discussed the problem with FEMA bidding against states to acquire vital equipment.

We - all Americans - are going through this coronavirus crisis together. We need each other to stay at home, to respect social distancing and to help each other. Applying greed - no matter how innately linked it is to capitalism - is wrong and should be condemned.

Price gouging is illegal, and dramatically raising the prices for essential equipment and PPE items seems like a form of price gouging.

The companies that manufacture the necessary weapons to fight COVID-19 are among those companies that are fortunate enough to still be conducting business, and many of their employees are fortunate enough to have jobs during this crisis.

Is it too much to ask that we all - even the companies that can benefit from the supply and demand equation of our economy - work and fight this war as Americans first with the patriotic goal of delivering the vital equipment and items needed to save lives - rather than using the reality of dying Americans as a way to squeeze more profits out of deals?