Although death claimed Kenneth Lay before he served a day in prison, the convicted former CEO of the Enron Corporation will forever be an icon of unbridled greed. The son of a Baptist minister, Lay â€” who in May was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy charges in one of Americaâ€™s biggest corporate scandals â€” maintained his innocence until he died. â€œWe believe that God in fact is in control, and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord,â€ he said after the verdict. Despite Layâ€™s protestations of purity, evidence presented during his trial painted a picture of wretched material excess that included a $200,000 yacht for his wifeâ€™s birthday, as well as $100 million in personal debt, all of which Lay defended by saying, â€œIt was difficult to turn off that lifestyle like a spigot.â€ Layâ€™s extravagance may fuel our collective outrage, but our righteous indignation runs smack up against a steady barrage of countervailing cultural messages: that greed â€” well harnessed and regulated â€” is good not only for corporations, but society as a whole, even the poor. In truth, weâ€™ve come to think of greed as an ambiguous quality â€” sometimes good, sometimes bad.
The worldâ€™s major faiths have no such illusions about greed. Greed, say many of them, is not only unambiguous; it is the Mother of All Sins. In The Mahabharata, Bhishma, son of the holy river Ganges, delivers Hinduismâ€™s great treatise on greed, naming it as the matrix out of which all other evil arises. â€” Beliefnet.com