American Greed – How Much is Enough?
That is the question I have in my head, time and time again. Have you ever watched the CNBC show “American Greed”? American Greed is narrated by Stacy Keach, who has one of those FBI authoritative voices that can tell the story with intrigue and interest. Usually these episodes center around the real estate investor who milked Grandma out of her retirement funds. Or some church charlatan who convinced their congregation to invest in what seemed to be “a gift from God”, but ended up as a Ponzi scheme. Or the smooth talking, playboy with too many girlfriends. These poor women fell for the dreamy eyes and debonair looks, only to go into large sums of credit card debt and heartbreak. And this happens all too often. Just recently, Jenifer Lewis, the actress that plays the strong-willed Grandma Ruby on the TV show ‘Black-ish’ stated that she was recently bilked out of $50,000 from a man she was dating https://www.insideedition.com/how-black-ish-star-jenifer-lewis-says-she-lost-50000-in-alleged-romance-scam-59538. So is there any legitimate way to get rich quick ?? – highly unlikely. What I see far too often are illegitimate schemes that end up hurting innocent people.
Do Companies have a moral obligation?
As I read and follow news of small businesses that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve run into a couple of examples of “American Greed”, and think what would possess these companies/businesses/universities to take the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loan)? Upon doing a little research on my own, if you read the PPP lending criteria, it is quite clear why a business would think that they would qualify for the PPP loan (see criteria below).
Criteria for applying for the PPP loan:
- Any small business concern that meets SBA’s size standards (either the industry based sized standard or the alternative size standard)
- Any business with the greater of 500 employees or
- Meets SBA industry size standard if more than 500
- Any business with a NAICs Code that begins with 72(Accommodations and Food Services) that has more than one physical location and employees less than 500 per location
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons
Vague, right? So it’s no wonder that based on the above criteria that some companies thought that they could apply for the loan. But the question is — should they have applied? Based on morals, the answer is NO. And, so May 18th was the last day for these companies to give these loans back without facing criminal liability from the government.
Companies that applied for the PPP loan (that morally should have not):
- Shake Shake returned $10 million in PPP loans
- Ruth’s Hospitality (Ruth’s Chris Restaurants)
- Harvard University shamed by the US President in receiving PPP loans (Harvard University has one of the largest endowments in the Country)
You Gotta Believe IN MAGIC
It turns out there are several individuals that are concerned with the future of small and women-owned businesses. One such individual is Ervin “Magic” Johnson. Magic Johnson was a superstar while playing for the National Basketball Association, and in my opinion Magic Johnson is a superstar as a entrepreneur. Magic Johnson was the first business person to bring a Starbucks franchise, as well as the Magic Johnson theaters to Harlem, NYC. I remember the quote where Magic Johnson stated that he had to convince Starbucks corporate folks that Harlem was a good place to invest. He stated that Starbucks had to market to the Harlem community products that sell in that community (like sweet potato muffins. My people did not know what a scone was. I personally like the Starbucks vanilla bean scone, but that lemon cake is to die for –I’m just saying :0). Being the successful business person and entrepreneur, Magic stated that he would give $100 million in loans to minority-owned businesses struggling amid the pandemic, through his venture “We Got Us: Grants, Capital Venture Funding, Loans and Other Resources for Minorities by Minorities”, He is an athlete that did not forget where he came from, and has decided to help minority- and women-owned businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. How’s that for putting your money where your mouth is? Not just lip service, but real solutions. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/05/19/magic-johnson-launches-program-to-help-minority-owned-small-businesses-during-crisis.html.