November 14, 2011

Penn State: Winning Shouldn't Be Everything

I'm going to make a broad assertion that may anger people.  While I was at Drexel Burnham Lambert's Tokyo office, I was often asked to accompany clients on visits with Japanese institutional investors.  In that context, I associated with both billionaires and millionaires and I discovered that there is a startling difference between the two. Millionaires can be lucky and stumble onto substantial net worth and income.  A billionaire, however, can only achieve that kind of wealth by thinking of nothing else but the accumulation of financial assets. Billionaires don't make the Forbe's list by accident.  They get there because it's an all-encompassing need.

That's one of the reasons why I could never buy the argument that Ross Perot, for example, would have made a good president.  People who acquire incredible wealth do so by suppressing the occasional inclination to be a good neighbor.  Exercising compassion requires a detour on the way to achieving financial goals, so no matter how well a person might manage an organization, if he lacks the desire to raise people--all people--above the human condition, he isn't qualified to lead anything that doesn't possess a profit motive.

A corollary can be said, in my opinion, about people who will win at all costs.  The adage that "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," is possibly the worst lie that evil professes.  Winning isn't the only thing.  In fact, it can be the worst thing when it requires turning a blind eye to pain inflicted on the innocent.  That's what apparently happened at Penn State.  It might be said, therefore, that a decent man sometimes loses--and he does it gladly--in order to uphold standards of morality and to be a good neighbor.  He might not earn any medals or make a ton of money, but he is the real winner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on!! -- Dan