“The Biggest Company You Never Heard Of!” (Reuters). That’s GLENCORE (stands for Global Energy Commodity Resources).

But you’ve heard of GREED? Perhaps in the Bible or other Holy Book? Perhaps reading Dante (Inferno, Canto 19)? Perhaps you’ve committed that sin or one of the seven deadly ones? (It’s right there after PRIDE but before LUST).

Glencore is a modern personification (corporations are persons, didn’t you know?) of GREED. It is colossal: tenth largest corporation in the world; $175 Billion in revenues in 2015; 160,000 employees; in more than 50 countries; on six continents; producing and trading in coal, oil, gas, metals, minerals and foodstuffs (Jim Hightower Lowdown, May 2016). CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, is on Forbes list of the world’s 500 richest people. But size and wealth alone are not the problems.

Glasenberg’s connection with Texas? Glencore bought Sherwin Alumina plant (bauxite, etc.), on the Gulf Coast, Gregory, Texas. In 2014, the mega-company froze wages; eliminated overtime pay; tripled the employee share of health-care premiums; cut medical and drug coverage for early retirees; eliminated pensions for new hires (Lowdown). When workers complained, this new “Global Corporate Order” locked them out.

Sadder yet, the National Labor Relations Board ruled the lockout legal. In 2015 (as planned), Glasenberg plunged the company into bankruptcy. The criminal founder of Glencore, Marc Rich, by that time, had made it onto the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” and escaped to Switzerland (still very rich). Glencore continues to escape its fair share of taxes, as do so many U.S. and multi-national corporations–Pfizer, Verizon, Google, AT&T, etc. (De Paul University specialist on inequality, Professor Paul Bucheit, Alternet).

Sherwin and Gregory’s aggrieved families are but a drop in the bucket among Glencore’s holdings and a smaller drop in the whole global economy. Globalization/ Inequality. Which is chicken? Which is egg? Perhaps they are flip sides of the same coin. Both are outcomes of seemingly insatiable greed. The result of this toxic mixture may lead to catastrophic results in the near future.  Some say there may be only 12 to 15 years before the “bubble” comes crashing down. “The rich are getting richer, the poor poorer, the middle class is shrinking. The growing impoverization of 95 percent of the citizens of this country will cause the economy to collapse just as in 1929” (Interview with political scientist, Dr. Samuel Freeman, 8 May 2016).

Current presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, issued similar warnings even before the current campaign. Often, in the repetition and heat of the debates, we forget what his message about the “one percent” really means. It means, among other things: “Companies avoid their fair share of taxes. They cut pensions and health benefits. Yet they (IBM, oil and gas companies and many others) scramble for government subsidies” (Sanders Newsletter, Summer 2012).  The list of the guilty goes on. Examples range from Southwest Airlines cutting passengers’ accumulated air miles to big oil companies declaring only 15 percent of their wells and paying only 2.2 percent of their taxes, etc. (Huffington Post, 5 May 2016).

The sin of GREED Dante saw and illustrated was sufficiently pronounced in his day. The levels of Hell for the greedy now might be even lower and hotter. However, British writer, Ferdinand Mount, suggests modern society has adopted a “liquid currentness” that assigns valor to the old vices: SLOTH is merely “down time;” LUST is “exploring your sexuality;” ANGER is “opening up your feelings;” VANITY is “looking good because you’re worth it.” And covetousness or GREED? It has been rebranded “retail therapy.” The positive virtue opposite AVARTIA or greed—CARITAS, Charity or Love–remains in short supply, as large corporations, without sufficient government control, press down on the average citizen.

You may be thinking, “but Dr. Mounce, isn’t Glencore, aren’t all companies, large and small, doing what they are supposed to do under capitalism—make a profit?” Yes… and no. That is, yes, this is our current system. But, we cannot allow a return to the savage capitalism of the 19th century. Profits, yes, but within limits. We cannot allow carnage of the environment. Government should protect workers and their unions. Wages should be fair; health and pensions should be respected. Tax laws should be revised so companies pay their fair share. Billionaires should pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do their secretaries (Warren Buffet).

A higher income tax on the one percent or two percent makes common sense for them and for the society at large. A rising tide raises all ships, resulting in a growing economy. Workers’ increased well-being results in more revenue for all, less strife and more hope. A higher tax on the richest Americans and corporations and increased law enforcement to prevent evasion also mean more revenue for repairing and replacing aging and failing infrastructure. “We can improve health care and develop a rail system to do for the economy of tomorrow what the (Republican) inter-state highway system did in the 60s and 70s” (Dr. Freeman).

But, currently, our society often celebrates the virtues of excess. Forget the multi-ethnic fun of “Hamilton;” the hottest ticket on Broadway now is the musical “American Psycho” (National Public Radio, 7 May 2016). Singer and murderous protagonist, Phil Bateman, is banker by day, serial killer by night. At first he murders the poor, then, his own kind or professional class. (Think “Sweeny Todd” does Wall Street). The book on which the musical was based lampooned the greed and excess of the 80s and 90s.

Trump’s Art of the Deal was referenced in “American Psycho.” Benjamin Walker, who plays lead in the play, commented “I think Phil would be contributing to Trump’s campaign right now.” Politics emulates art. The corporate media which created Trump (for their greed, for the advertising dollars) continue to feature the charlatan, who is now in striking distance of the power of the U.S. presidency. Yes, the angry “base” of the Republican Party voted for Trump. But top leaders who now claim they are trying to stop him actually set the stage for Trump.

Trump has said “wages are too high.” (No matter the enabling media allow him to “walk it back”). Other Republicans don’t disagree. They opposed President Obama’s call for “$10/10.” They oppose Bernie’s call now for $15 an hour. They only chide Trump for his raving misdemeanor, for dissing them, not for his misogyny or racism. For decades they have opposed raising wages, vowed to diminish Social Security and have harmed working men and women. Their pandering to the top one percent and to greedy corporations is well documented. Will new elections allow them to continue? We are now facing the predictable danger and grief of an age of GREED.

“O Avarice, my house is now your captive,
It traffics in the flesh of its own children,
What more is left for you to do to us?” (Dante, Inferno, Canto 19)