Tag Archives: Banks

Individualistic-oriented cultures and greed – any relationship?

This morning listening to the NPR (National Public Radio) I caught an interview that the Morning Edition host did with an American venture capitalist Bill Frezza.  The conversation centered around job creation and the age-old debate that rages regularly between liberals and conservatives on whether or not taxing the rich affects job creation in a negative way.

What struck me was not the tax question, but rather the view that Bill Frezza held on jobs and on how jobs are actually not beneficial to business.  Jobs is an expense, he said, and creating jobs isn’t the goal of any business.  The goal of a business is making money for the owner and the shareholders as well as satisfying customer demand.  In other words, business owners aren’t supposed to be concerned about the American economy and the state of the country in particular – but simply about how much money they’ll make and how much profit they’ll take in.

Perhaps not quite the view I would relate to, but that’s beside the point.  His pragmatic approach seemed very ego-centric, very “as-long-as-I-make-money-nothing-else-matters”, and very … individualistic, if we want to put a culture dimension on it.  What about the world, I wanted to ask?  What about making sure that your money-making is contributing good to the world and to the society you live in?

It seems that Bill and many like him don’t care very much for that (at least that’s what came through in this interview).  And that makes me wonder – do individualistic societies where “I” is a lot more important than “We” create more ego-centrism and more greed?  Does the US with its very individualistic orientation lead the world in the number of greedy and I-don’t-give-a-f$#@% individuals?

Has this attitude been exported elsewhere? And how is this export thriving in your country?

The culture of “fees”: only in the US?

A great debate raged in the US after the Haitian earthquake.  The credit card fees and the millions upon millions of dollars that credit card companies were making from the generosity of the people touched a nerve in many.  That, coupled with the general fatigue in the population over the “other” bank fees — namely the fees that make the bankers fat and the population poor — produced an indignation over certain industries’ profits that the US hasn’t seen in years.

Then, a couple of days after hearing this indignation over the airwaves and reading about it on internet, I opened a newspaper and saw that John Oliver from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which is my regular nightly comedy dose) is coming to a theater near me.  “Great,” I thought, “that would be a wonderful evening out.”  That was until I saw the prices — and it was not the price of the ticket that turned me off.  It was the fees.  For a $35 ticket I would have paid at least $17 in fees.  That’s 50% of the ticket!  My reasonably priced $35 ticket would quickly become a $52 dollar ticket.  And for what?  For me clicking a few buttons on the screen and making a purchase on-line?  Why should I be paying this much for them to process a ticket?  And whom would I be paying?  The ticket agencies that somehow decided that it were OK to rip the spectators off?

This was not the first time I had to pay outrageous fees in the US for getting a ticket to a show or a sports event.  I was even told I’d have to pay if I went to pick up my ticket at the theater — a “pick up” fee.  Come on.  Seriously — a pick up fee?

I’ve bought plenty of tickets for performances in Russia and Argentina and I don’t remember paying any fees let alone such outrageous amounts.  Which makes me wonder — why do we, Americans, put up with that?  Why do we let them rob us in daylight?  Is the “culture of fees” so strong in the American psyche that it’s here to stay?

What do you think?  And what has been your experience in other countries?

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