Monday, November 6, 2023

#310 / Greedy Guts


On Friday, November 3rd, my morning newspapers reported that Sam Bankman-Fried (pictured in the color photograph above) was found guilty of fraud by a federal jury He now faces a possible sentence of life in prison. 

Part of me feels a little sad for Bankman-Fried. I can be a little bit sympathetic. He was "just a kid," really, and he just got carried away. It is possible to see him in this way.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, "Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued that he wasn’t the movie villain prosecutors described him as but a math nerd and entrepreneur trying his best to build a business in an emerging industry." 

As I say, part of me wants to be sympathetic, but the "emerging industry" in which he decided to engage himself (and which I have warned about many, many times in this blog) was based on greed. 

I don't remember when I first heard the expression, "greedy guts," but it was probably in elementary school. Etymologically speaking, the phrase was perhaps originally used to designate persons ruled by their gluttonous desire for food, but in the way I remember hearing this expression, it was taken in a more general sense. That "Greedy Guts" expression was used to describe people who always wanted "more" than everyone else. This desire was, apparently, what drove Bankman-Fried, as those familiar with the facts of his case will be able to verify. And here's a problem: Bankman-Fried wanted to use "Other People's Money" to benefit his individual self. 

The "defense" that Bankman-Fried offered - that he wasn't, really, on top of what was happening (and this was his defense) - isn't very appealing when Bankman-Fried wasn't speculating with his own money, but with "Other People's Money." Louis Brandeis, later a Supreme Court Justice, wrote a book with that title in 1914, Other People's Money. It's still in print, and you can read it online, for free, if you'd like to, by clicking this link. That website I just linked is where I got the line drawing at the top of this blog posting. 

Thinking about the lessons that can be learned from the events that will send Sam Bankman-Fried to an extended prison term, one of them is pretty clear: Don't be a "greedy guts." 

Being "greedy," in other words, is not a good thing, and we should all try to tame our greed! Being greedy, though, while always undesirable, may well NOT land those who are greedy in prison. Here is a more precise lesson, for those wanting to indulge their greed without going to jail: Don't be a "greedy guts" with "Other People's Money." 

If you are, you could end up (and I think Bankman-Fried's jury would probably say, "should" end up) like Sam Bankman-Fried. When you are a "greedy guts" with other people's money there won't be much sympathy directed to you. 

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