Money, happiness and eternal life – Greed (1/2) | DW Documentary

"The idea of death, the
fear of it, haunts human animals like nothing
else." Ernest Becker I had a strange dream. I was walking
through a golden temple. Beneath the glass dome, and
through the chambers of splendor, it is filled with so many
things the heart craves. I saw the marvel
of human skill and art. And a flawless creature, who
seems to lack nothing. But apparently, they were
all looking for something. Such strange creatures… "The whole world is
in great chaos! The more they get,
the more they want!" "President Bush after
9/11 said: I urge all
Americans to shop." "This brain is still going to
make me money.

It's something that's inside of me.
I was raised the way I'm still going to make money, even
if I'm released in the desert." "There are people who try to tell
you you need this, there are enough people who
think they need it. That's what marketing strategy is
, always telling you: 'You
shouldn't be satisfied!'" "Humans are greedy by nature.
Evolution has shown that that. As long as this mechanism does
n't become too dominant, it serves the
individual's purpose perfectly." "Right now I'm going
so far as to say that this
is a symptom of the disease." "I wonder
if we are a form that can
survive. Maybe we're just a
fleeting piece of evolution and we'll be sitting right
next to the dinosaurs in the cockroach museum." GREED GREED
A Fatal Desire The film by
Jörg Seibold PART 1 I keep
asking myself: Why are we like this? We are caring and compassionate – but
we are also egocentric and reckless. We give and we hoard. We create and destroy. What's our problem? What drives us? I want to find the answer.

Fear "Humanity is at a crossroads. I think,
historic momentum. The physical environment is
being damaged to the point , where we need to
confront it. War is something
we have to think about, why is it happening? People are very
unhappy – above all we are continue to
build Walmart. I see the
insatiable greed that is closely linked to
all these other difficulties, which if we don't recognize
and adapt to them, we are literally putting
our species at risk." "You might ask to
talk about Darwin. If you ask
to talk about Darwin, it's got to be
about evolution. Evolution is the idea
Darwin was trying to understand… And what was his very original origin? Natural selection!" "Humans on the one hand, are very similar
to all other forms of life, in that we
share a basic biological predisposition,
to survive. But on the other hand, we are
so smart that we actually
realize that we exist. And the point here is to
live. and knowing that, is the basis
for great joy. On the other hand, it also carries
a very terrible burden of existence. If you know that you
are here, you know that one day, like all living beings,
you will not be here.

If that's all we think: 'I'm going to die, I might
go out and get a meteor down', we really will be
crippled as objects of terror. What humans have done
is build and maintain what anthropologists
today call 'culture' And all cultures offer
some recipe for immortality, whether literally through
heaven and the afterlife and reincarnation of
all of the world's great religions, or symbolically, through the belief that
some remnant of our identity will endure
over time. That's why
you want to have kids, that's why you want to
build pyramids, that's why we want to write great
books and symphonies. That's why we
want to have a lot of money. Humans are motivated to
have a lot of things, because – psychologically speaking
– it gives them a sense, that they might
be able to live forever." "Desire, greed
and struggle that fuel
anger and aggression, from a philosophical point of view,
Buddhist philosophy are all conditions that a
person produces.

Who consistently
tries to look at what is not the truth. We are talking about
three fundamental truths: Things are impermanent, second: the
fundamental principle of all things should
be emptiness. But now what's happening is:
We're trying to build something that makes
us forget this. We try to
make things permanent. And that struggle creates a
third truth: suffering. We then start to
depend on things. I'll give you an example: You know, if I
have a t-shirt… and every time I
go shopping, I buy another t-shirt. You may have
twelve in your closet, but you will buy
the thirteenth. Only then will you
have the feeling you'll live long enough to
wear all 13 t-shirts, or even more. So, there's a sense of
consistently doing something every day, because we might be able to further
strengthen our sense of immortality, our sense of being alive
is constantly unchanging… And that struggle consistently
builds all of these psychoneuroses and one of the most prominent of
them becomes greed." "Death is
a very real physical phenomenon. It doesn't matter how
good your symbols are – your religion, your politics, your money
– they are still symbols and none of them
will be enough to minimize the
fear of death.

You'd rather
delete it. You can reduce it, but you
can't get rid of it. And finally, only really
to make things worse. We also don't like the idea
that we are animals. From
an absolute biological point of view, we are not much more
important or immortal, than
lima beans or armadillos." An animal takes only
what it needs. But human animals are different. More than seven billion of
us inhabit this planet.
of us want something.

Want more. Is this perhaps the
secret to success? The beast "We have now developed an
instrument to measure greed
as a personality trait – and also to induce the
condition of greed in people. This is the job of the balloon. We use it
to measure our test subjects' willingness to
take risks. The subject should try to
keep inflating the balloon. The bigger the balloon,
the better the value. In each round, subjects
play for real money.

Every time they slightly
inflate the balloon, they take the risk
that it may pop, and then
their money will disappear… We can show that
people who tend to be greedy are more likely to take
risks when doing this task. So they
inflated the balloon far more than
normal test subjects. And we saw that
people who tended to be greedy also showed
changes in brain response. In this graph, we
see how the brain responds to
rewards, and punishments. So far, we've been
able to show that the more greedy the test subject, the weaker
the punishment signals. The interesting thing is
that these people also tend to want to
keep things that way.
Olds and Milner's classic experiment, very interesting in this regard.

If electrodes were
implanted in this region of the rat's brain, and the rat was then
put in a situation where it could stimulate that dopamine system
directly by pressing the lever, the rat would continue to
press the lever until it died. And this may be
one of the biological mechanisms, which helps explain
excessive greed." "Most primates are
very social, but these primates are not unique in that
they are also very tolerant. There is a hierarchy, and
everyone knows who is on top – and the individual on top
gets more.

Males get
more females, females get more access
to resources, but there are no
really steep hierarchies, where there is one individual at the
top who gets everything. And also seen things
that are not important among primates such as
respect for ownership. We can see for example,
how do you respond when you get
more and I get less? And the response when you got
less and I got more? And it's easy to
learn experimentally.

So the experiment
itself is very simple: you need two monkeys or two apes, place them
next to each other and you interact with
them in order. And what they have to do
is a very easy task: you give them a token,
they return it, you reward them with food
because their task is done. But the critical component
is: how do they respond to gift choices
like cucumbers or peppers, when their partner gets
something much better? Nala? Here it is… Look at this! It could be because of injustice, it
could be because: 'Hey look, my partner got
something better than me' – or it could be
some kind of general greed, for lack of
a better term. Hey, there's better
food out there, I want that!” “Nala, want some wine?” “From an evolutionary perspective, the behavior we consider
greedy, i.e. acquiring as many resources as
possible, is important. Most animals
live more within the minimum limits than
modern western humans. So, not getting
as many resources as possible, for them is
a real risk of death.

In human society,
from my perspective, greed has been
viewed not only as getting
as much as possible, but getting
as much as possible by explicitly
sacrificing others. And I don't think
that's something you can apply
to animals." One day Narcissus came across
a lake so clear that he could
see himself in it,
as if it were a mirror. When he saw
his own reflection, he fell down. in love with
his good looks. We too, love to see
ourselves as the center of the world's attention. The individual is now the
measure of everything. And as such, we crave
recognition and self esteem. We collect
relationships, experiences, photos and likes,
SUVs, shoes, records … Are we like Narcissus,
addicted to our own ego? "Being successful in
business is an art… and when you have it,
you can take things to a level that will
take people by surprise." "How much does it cost. ..? Don't talk about
international prices, let's talk
about our prices…

– that's 700 square meters
per floor, times eight floors, times
our local prices – a thousand and so… That's about 5.6 million… " "I'll That said,
my philosophy is very simple: There is a fine line that
separates a businessman from a
criminal. Why? Because no matter what
I did, someone would say that
I had tricked him. So we're all
business people around the world, whether it's Bill Gates,
Richard Branson…

We're all seen
as criminals, but that's because we think
beyond how other people think. President Mugabe is my brother. From a European perspective I
would be called a nephew. From an African perspective
I would be called a brother. We cannot have a
world full of criticism. We want the numbers to shrink! Less criticism,
more doers! That way the world economy would be fun to
live in." "Welcome to my home! I
want to show you that as well as the achievements I've
had over the years and, yes, you know… At the school
near my old office, they gave me an award
for building the school block… And then an
organization "Help us help ourselves" honors me for my work
on humanitarian grounds – so they gave
me this award. Well, this is an award from
BEFTA – the main focus is recognizing those who have done a
lot in the fields of human rights, friendly relations and
empowerment issues.

You know,
internationally. That is me. Here is my main room , where… if you come in…
and friends and family… we meet and discuss, talk about thoughts,
politics, economics and family. This property has
a helicopter pad upstairs… So, when it's cold,
we put the heater on, so there's actually
heating in there… This room is called
Mugabe's Dining Room. If I fix
this house, this is the only
room I won't fix because it gives me a
sentimental connection with the president… And, yes, the man
money can't buy.

And here it is… I know where I come from.
I'm originally a vegetable seller. My bed was floor, granulated floor, that's where
I used to sleep – with
very bad linen duvets, one under and
one above me. And that's history. That's why I want to be able
to show it to you. I have to live well!” “Things like horse racing and
all other forms of public events appeal to people
for so many reasons. One aspect of
horse racing is betting. The other part is, it is
important to highlight his status
among other human beings. A person is called
'better' not by how big
or strong he is, but by how
one dresses, how you
treat yourself and how you
determine that you are richer than or
worthy of others and therefore more
immune from death than anyone
else around.

You. In such a way, it
is no different from the
dominance hierarchy in primates. We love heroes
and therefore have been fixated on being
the best at something, even if it's just
how many hotdogs I can
eat in 10 minutes. In America, we are number one. Not in science or literature
or anything important, – we are number
one in depression. How could this happen? All you have to do is:
Look at cultural values, to see if
they can be realistically acquired by
the average individual. When you're a man,
you're basically rewarded for how
much you have. This is what is
called the 'American Dream': If you work
hard enough, you can make as much money as LeBron James or
Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. But realistically,
for every millionaire, there should be hundreds of
thousands of people working part-time at Walmart for
no profit. It's the same for women, but they
have a different cultural burden: We teach women
that to be beautiful, you have to be very thin –
except for your breasts, of course.

So if you're
not as thin as dental floss,
you're too fat. And you have to
forever stay young, which is, of course,
biologically impossible. 'Wow!' We
value values that are simply
impossible to obtain." If you say 'I
want to be honest with the world', you must give up
all your 'I'. And when I say
'I' from you, I speak of 'I am'
this' and 'I am that', 'I can do this
and I can do that', 'Oh yes, I did
this last year', 'oh I can do that', 'oh
I'm better than him'. So all of the 'I' is ego. There are a lot of people in South
Africa, both black and white, who carry
ego badges on them, carry them
up high like a flag. And they
are people that we will see as
the future bureaucrats of the country.

this. If you drive
into a poor area, where you know people are
dying of hunger and drive your Mercedes
Benz or Rolls Royce there, that's the worst
thing you can do. You drive with
this ego to show 'I'm better than
you. You know, you're not going to well that
's where I am.' Those people are missing." "If I believed that I
should assert my ego, the only way I could
do that was through greed.

I was forced to constantly put
something inside of me that gave
stability to my ego. It could be material, but it could also be
spiritual things, for example ideas. Like 'I am important'. Or
'I am someone, because of money, or fame, or
my title, or something like that.' Our whole modern world
is based on this. Greed destroys people. Why? Because
it isolates us. And because
greed is like a drug. The more I have, the more
I want to have, because whatever I
have no longer satisfies me. So no what
I really have that satisfies me – it's
a constant quest for more. Religion has known
for centuries that this drive lies
within us humans, but this drive is also
our downfall." Since time immemorial, there are
stories of people who
can never have enough.

People like King Midas. He asked Dionysius to
grant his wish: that everything he
touched would turn to gold. But even his food and
drink turned to gold. He seemed to have died of
starvation or thirst. Gold and wealth have always been
seen as the ruler of all and a whisper to eternity. What, I
asked myself, does money exert such
a strong attraction? Money "I chose banking as
my career. I am an accountant, and I worked for the
bank Julius Bär & Co. AG, first in Zurich
and then in the Cayman Islands, which
is a tax haven.
the law. A certain amount of greed
creeps into you. That applies to me
too, I must admit. You start to think
only of monetary matters. The dollar symbol appears
before your eyes and in your heart. Then they are there, and that's
one only thing that matters.

Big profits, and
making sure you don't get caught! That's how I
operate it too, of course. In my function as a
compliance officer, I conclude that we
have criminal clients. There are names like Bin Laden,
there are a Mexican drug boss. It became clear to
me that I worked for a
criminal organization, and that the bank was a participant in
tax evasion and fraud.
only moral conflicts, and then resolve
these issues with management. We were threatened, and the
whole family ended up leaving the
Cayman Islands very suddenly… There was once a Swiss banker in
the Cayman Islands who had been murdered. To some extent,
my decision to leave the system
is a moral issue. But what was more
important was that I realized, the system had
turned against me.

For example, threats made
against me in the Cayman Islands, the way I was fired,
then threatened again. The bank will
destroy me if I try to press
charges against them! The bank sent private detectives
after us… I was followed on
my way to work. I had to change the
route I took to work,
change my hours. When I saw the
black car it made me angry. I
was really scared.

I even considered suicide.
They want to drive me crazy. The state prosecutors had
all the information, but they didn't do
anything with it. This is a
political issue. This will make
criminal clients uncomfortable. They will
realize that they are also no longer
safe and protected. So with that in mind, the
authorities are not after banks. They are after the person who
made the truth public. I spent
217 days in prison. The first 30 days in 2005,
and the rest in 2011… Both of them I was
in solitary confinement, spending 23 hours a
day alone in my cell. Some prisoners
went crazy, started banging on
doors, screaming. Switzerland and
basically every country, they protect
their golden calves. The golden calf in Switzerland
is banking secrecy. That's why no one
will investigate Julius Bär's bank, even though state prosecutors
know that Julius Bär has helped defraud
the US tax authorities, and so on. For political reasons,
state prosecutors will never
investigate anything." "Our question
is: how can we create
test conditions, which will approximate the behavior of
stockbrokers, for example? We used
functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate
brain activity in our trial subjects.

We can look deep into
the brain, including into the structures
responsible for reward responses. Our subjects played a game of
buying and selling stocks, and had to decide whether they wanted to
invest a large amount of money
or a small amount. Then they get
feedback during the game, whether the stock price is
going up or down. We've been able to determine that
people who are particularly greedy display a more
muted response in the areas of the brain responsible for
punishment and loss of money. This allows a
kind of disinhibition, the inability to
block impulses. Based on the assumption that the average
person is risk averse, it makes sense for
the financial industry, which is optimized
for returns, to hire people who tend to be
more risk-averse.

They achieve it with bonuses,
and with targeted hiring. I believe it's only a
matter of time until the next financial crisis
will occur." "When I started
hearing about the wealth of Warren
Buffet and Bill Gates, then it was around 30, 40 billion, but
now it is 70 billion dollars. You know, in life, if you
had just a billion dollars, you could live for 273 years and spend
10 thousand dollars a day. And how many of
us live for 273 years? So if you have
a billion dollars, then you could even
spend 30 thousand dollars a day, because you're not
going to live that long. But still other people
make more. No one can say that
I don't want more.” “If people like me
don't make money, there are no taxes that allow
government to function.

So, because of that,
people who make money
make things possible. And I'm one
of those people." Greater growth,
more prosperity, more contentment. This is the promise of well-
meaning people to us. And we are too happy
to trust them. We do our part. Are we buying
happiness? for yourself? The Happiness Machine "A lot of Western Europeans
and Americans, they no longer really have
a firm belief in God. But you have to
believe in something. And we have
belief systems, which reduce the
fear of death. But there will always be a roar of panic beneath the
layers of consciousness. We will experience this
fear of death and we must do
something about it. And one thing we can do
is buy a lot of crap.

By the time you
can speak, you 've been bombarded with
advertising images – like Nike and Arch Gold – we know
them subconsciously. Our children grow up
in a very different world from
the one you and I grew up in – and their brains have been
modified accordingly. Manufacturers of consumer goods, they spend billions of dollars making sure
no children are left behind in
that commercial rat race. We are essentially
no different from the amoebas. We are attracted to everything that
promotes life and pleasure, we resist and
fear everything that threatens that state of affairs." "Shoes, shoes, and
shoes… everywhere shoes! Sometimes you
don't want to let something be worn,
you put it away… For example these shoes, I
've never worn them, but I guess they've been hanging out
here for three years?… Still totally new! Same with this one – brand new … brand new!… These
are designer shoes! I don't want to be limited because
the Book of Genesis says: You must have
power over everything.

gives me strength. No one, in the Bible –
I can open it to you – is not a poor person! Abraham, Moses…
everyone is a rich man in the Bible! The Bible does not speak
of poverty. The Bible is the biggest money machine. Every verse, every verse,
talks about money! That is
something people need to be aware of. And, I'm glad
there's something like this!" "I think the key to
a materialistic society is that it will always
tell you something is missing – you need something else. We all contribute. You
can't just blame someone for trying
to sell you something. So there is demand and supply. We all support each other
in it. And we've all
gotten into this cycle , where we can't
break free from that." "Speaking of 24 hours, I
'd say 23 hours and 55 minutes. Samsara says: Come on,
you're missing something. And by Samsara,
I mean habitual patterns. And you keep thinking,
they called me. Samsara called me. I need
to go there, have a car, have a house, have a partner,
so busy, so neurotic. That's what I would say.

Of course, you don't call
it that, you call it: 'become someone, be
capable, find your identity'. When there is dissatisfaction,
you are always looking for more. Struggle, brings so much
insecurity and unhappiness." "One of the reasons
why people earn so much is
because it tastes good. There is a
neurochemical and psychological feedback loop. This keeps you from
doing more than what you really
need. It's one thing when you
go out and have a warm cup of coffee
on a cold rainy day.

But it's totally another thing when you
buy your 75th pair of shoes. You really don't
need those shoes. But they will still
make you feel comfortable. There is a push which in the US is called
'to keep up with the neighbours'. In the affluent area of Park Avenue, at
everyone's 16th birthday party …last year
everyone shared an ipod…this year they
shared an ipad…

this year will
share this. So there's a kind
of short-term consumption function." "There's nothing wrong
with being a consumer. I mean, to stay alive
we have to consume things. But, we literally surround
ourselves with stuff, to the point where we are
imprisoned in a 'golden cage'. We become 'consumed
by consumption'. We will continue to buy goods,
until the last drop of petroleum. It's very dangerous, I think." PART 2
At the same time next week.

You May Also Like