Condemned by the Christian Bible as the root of all evil and vividly portrayed in Dante’s Inferno as the sin which is most offensive to the spirit of love, the lust for material gain has been classified as an addiction by modern psychology. Before you dismiss the idea that greed is an addiction, it is necessary to point out that if you were to ask any billionaire about how much capital he needs in order to be satisfied, you would come to realize that there isn’t really an ending point to how much fortune they desire.
Awful as it may sound, some of these billionaires have stepped over any imaginable boundary and even got to the point when they deny others the basic conveniences in order to pursue their own dream. Let’s check out some of the people who will be remembered in history mainly due to their greed.
1. Sheldon Adelson
Due to his actions during the US presidential elections last year, Sheldon Adelson is a face all Americans know. Top shareholder and chief executive at the world’s largest casino, the Las Vegas Sands, Adelson stated that he doesn’t regret spending an astronomical sum on his favorite candidate and in fact, he intends to spend double on the next elections. While the public views him as a villain determined to end the process of democratic elections once and for all, in his line of work he is the declared enemy of workers’ union.
2. Larry Ellison
It is said that in business you must come up with a plan and stick to it in order to become successful. Larry Ellison, former Oracle software chief takes this rule very seriously especially since throughout his career his plan was to buy out the competition, steal the clients and fire the staff. Needless to say that he is currently the sixth richest man in the world with a fortune estimated at around $41 billion.
3. Jim Skinner
Thanks to aggressive campaigns of the former McDonald’s CEO, no person looking to earn an extra income by working in a fast-food chain can be entitled to receive in excess of $8.25 per hour. And that “high end” sum is reserved for the workers with over 20 years of experience. Meanwhile, Jim Skinner announced his retirement along with a compensation package of over $82 million.
4. Brian Driscoll
Back in the day, it was considered the captain’s duty to go down with his ship. Oh well, times have changed and nowadays, the captains have their very own yacht or ski jet to rely on when the ship goes down. And, if possible, he would repeat the stunt with the next ship that rescues him. So goes the story of Brian Driscoll, a man who in just one year managed to bankrupt Hostess Foods and leave with all he could squeeze from worker compensation funds. As a result from his actions, Driscoll was named CEO of Diamond Foods and currently receives a salary of over $10 million, whereas his former staff lost wage income and retirement funds.
5. Steven Cohen
Wall Street is the best place in the world to make a ton of cash fast and easy, without the public finding out. Initially an expert poker player, Steven Cohen has decided to try his advanced skills in stocks trading and what a fine job he did. Putting together a top secret hedge fund, in the early days Cohen provided investors with a ROI of over 70%, demanding 50% for himself. In the past years, financial experts claim that his funds are so widespread that $2 out of each $100 traded in Wall Street belong to him. The problem here is that unlike most Americans with an average income, this guy only pays 15% of the profits in taxes.
6. Larry Page
While Larry Page is renowned for his philanthropic acts, the truth is that not even his free flu shots program can mask the global greed grab of Google’s co-founder. While in theory Google has to pay about 39% from the profits in taxes, in reality the company’s contribution barely reaches 22%. If a rich corporation like Google doesn’t pay these taxes, guess who will?
7. Samuel Palmisano
As if reducing IBM’s staff to almost in half in ten years was not enough, before he retired Samuel Palmisano has made an important change to the retirement packages that will severely affect employees who are no longer with the company. To summarize, employees who will be dismissed in 2013 will not receive a match for the 401(k), regardless of whether they had to leave due to disability or if were laid off. Obviously, this is a powerful example that could inspire many of the CEOs across the nation. Lucky for Palmisano, he left early with $227 million package.
8. Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross will go down in the history of the United States as the most talented man in terms of exploiting the bankrupt. The most recent scandal Ross that was involved in consists in the purchase of the First Place Financial for $45 million. Although the US Treasury raised a red flag that this move would not work well for the taxpayers, Ross simply stated that this is not his problem. Furthermore, he celebrated his “victory” with a fundraiser dinner party at his mansion in Florida for Mitt Romney, an exclusive event where the entry fee was set at $50,000 a plate.
9. Jamie Dimon
The recent UE passed law that sets an ethic limit to how much compensation bankers can receive appears to have awaken the kraken. Current chief of JPMorgan Chase has raged over the idea that starting with 2013 European bankers cannot collect bonuses bigger than twice their straight salaries and, some say, threatened that this better not happen in the US or else. Considering that Dimon earned over $23 million two years in a row, even after his company lost $2 billion due to a management mistake, we can clearly understand where he’s coming from.
10. Jack Welch
Even though the former world top CEO of the 1990s has retired with a package most of us will not see in our entire lives (well, the number is $400 million), the truth is that this is not nearly enough for a person of his caliber. While most people reaching their twilight years prefer a quiet lifestyle, Jack Welch doesn’t miss an opportunity to pick on Warren Buffet due to the latter’s belief that the billionaires should pay more taxes. And the fun thing is that he collects $150,000 per appearance!