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Category: Financial / Topics: Character, Integrity Choices and Decision Making Ethics & Morality Financial

Getting Rich Quick

by Dan Seagren

Posted: January 30, 2011

Many, perhaps most, would like to get rich. The quicker the better…

Many, perhaps most, would like to get rich. The quicker the better. The lottery? A lucky gamble? A strategic investment? An inheritance? An endorsement? It is possible and some do get rich quickly. But don't count on it.

I won a diamond once while in college. I felt rich until I discovered it was 1/100th of a carat. Virtually worthless. Now in the computer age, I do pay some bills online, and I have a couple of online advisers who share their secrets on occasion. The other day I saw this on the screen: Shawn runs a financial service, the M3, which basically broke the Bernie Madoff “code.”

Bernie Madoff. That aroused my curiosity and so I began to read. I discovered that Bernie had come to the United States from Italy in search of the American Dream. In 1954 he started his own masonry business working 80 hours a week to support his family.

Then I read, “Tim, I just broke Madoff's code.” To make a long story shorter, Bernie Madoff had discovered a way of making investments that paid off handsomely. He actually did make big money for his clients and often quickly. At first it was a legitimate business, not a scam. But unfortunately, Madoff got greedy and you know the rest of the story. Too often well-meaning efforts can turn sour and this is what did happen sending a man to prison disappointing not a few clients, some apparently grievously.

Good intentions are only good as long as they are good. Otherwise they can become anything but beneficial. It happens to good people and the greedy; it affects the rich and the poor, the unsuspecting as well as the gambler; the amateur and the professional.

Frankly, I wasn't interested in knowing what Bernie's “code” was. Nor was I interested in finding out more about the topic which would cost me $495 a quarter or I could pay by the year. Does this mean that I am wise but hardly innocent, or stupid (for not finding out what the “code” was), or that I was distracted? Or did I fear that if I got rich I might get greedy?

None of these. But I was interested in helping expose that awful state of affairs: greed. It attacks the innocent and the sophisticated, the rich and the poor, the gentleman and the scoundrel. Even the youngest among us can be affected as well as seniors. Do I feel sorry for Bernie? I have to admit that I do. He started out so well, worked diligently to support his family, and made a critical discovery but was unable to ward off that adversary, greed. Can it happen to anyone?

Unfortunately, it can, and does, but it need not be successful if we are vigilant and surround ourselves with those who are equally vigilant.

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Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: January 30, 2011

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