Making money seems like an impetuous goal in this contemporary global capitalist society. Hey, I’m not some bearded socialist douche (well, I do have a beard but my facial hair has nothing to do with my political perspectives). Capitalism is a great system that allows anyone with a great money-making idea to get a piece of their own pie. The thing is, though, that sometimes great money-making ideas aren’t the most ethical, and the following are just a few examples.
This is how to make big money by selling your soul (or humanity, I won’t discriminate).
Fake Ebola Charities
I thought I’d open this article with something that happened in more recent history, the Ebola crisis. So, when the outbreak happened and the WHO (the World Health Organization, not the band) started softly poking the world on the shoulder, going: “Um, guys…; hey, guys…; I think we have a problem”, most people immediately sought to help. The more cowardly amongst us ran out and stocked up on surgical masks and hazmat suits (don’t judge, I also wear hazmat suits when I’m gardening). Then you have the deplorable subhuman lizard-people that thought: “Holy shit! We can totally make money off of this Ebola thing!”
The more innocuous of these cretins created medical masks with their brands emblazoned on them, like rapper Cam’ron, but when you’re going to refuse your humanity to make money, why not go all the way? There was a special, rare type of asshole that took it upon themselves to create charity pages for people that were returning to their home countries after contracting the virus while working as aid providers in Africa. That would actually be an honorable thing to do – if they actually gave the money to the infected aid workers. Instead, they actually fattened their own wallets.
Stockbrokers and investment consultants like Jeff Reeves of InvestorPlace.com recommended that investors put money into companies that produced Ebola pharmaceuticals and hazmat suits. Nice.
Mmm, Riot Money!
People have varied reactions to tragedy: some talk about it, some seek out public forums to express their grief, and others create…; as in create sellable products regarding tragedy. This isn’t about tragicrafting, or the type of crafting dedicated to and exploiting tragedy, but rather about a certain young man that was also a fashion designer.
Kerby Jean-Raymond designed a shirt commemorating the black victims of police shootings that eventually lead to the Ferguson, MI riots, which he wore during the 2015 New York Fashion Week, because, as we know, there’s no better forum to display your disdain for police aggression and the irreverent loss of young lives than at a forum dedicated to decadence and thousand-dollar codpieces. Well, soon after a couple of Instagrams and tweets, Jean-Raymond was hounded to sell his shirts, but unlike the creator of the peace symbol (which was not copyrighted and was free for use by anyone that believed in peace), this young, noble fashion designer made a limited edition run (see: expensive) of a 1,000 shirts that were sold at $70 dollars apiece, donating the proceeds from the sales of the first 250 shirts to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an often contested organization. To be fair, he did donate the profits of the remaining 750 shirts (after costs), but I can’t help but think that, considering all the hype, he also promoted himself pretty effectively in the process.
The Vampire of the Caribbean
Haiti has a very tragic past. In most recent history, it suffered a devastating earthquake of great magnitude resulting in the death, injury, and displacement of thousands of Haitians. But it goes back much further than that: when Christopher Columbus arrived on the island known as Hispaniola (home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he and his crew created multiple deadly epidemics to break out amongst the local population due to their lack of immunity to European pathogens. The rest of the locals were forced to work in gold mines and plantations. Then the French came and were given part of the island which they in turn immediately turned into a slave colony which was infamous at the time for its brutality – historical documents show that a third of all slaves taken there would die within their first few years.
Eventually, the Haitians proudly revolted against their oppressors and established their own rule, but things went south again. After years of strife and occupation, the dictator in the Dominican Republic ordered the slaughter of 20,000 Haitians living on the border between the two countries, and the murderous dictator, FranÃ§ois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, was later voted President in 1957. During this period, his paramilitary group, led by Luckner Cambronne, murdered thousands of their countrymen and women…;
But it gets darker because history always does. Cambronne, while enacting the genocide of Papa Doc’s dissidents, thought that he should be making more money murdering people, so he started selling the bodies of the slain to medical universities around the world. I shit you not: history is much more horrifying than even the most masterfully crafted horror movie. But, of course, history just keeps getting scarier and Cambronne was getting greedier, so he started snatching bodies from funeral homes, too – it was quite a frequent phenomenon that mourners would arrive at a funeral parlor to find an empty casket.
Finally, because greed and messed up shit go hand in hand, Cambronne found a market for blood, which he took at gunpoint and under threat. He was such a prolific blood seller, and combined with the fact that his methods of sourcing the blood were dubious at best, some speculate that he heavily contributed to the AIDS epidemic. After “Papa Doc” died, Cambronne fled to Florida where he died a peaceful death…; because fuck karma.
Definitely Not Schindler
If you are unfamiliar with the title I used for this entry, it refers to the Spielberg movie that tells the story of a German industrialist member of the Nazi Party that saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory. Dr. Marcel Petiot, on the other hand, was a Frenchman without any affiliations to the Nazi Party, at least initially. He made a living running a fake medical practice which doled out addictive pharmaceuticals (those customers just keep coming back) and enacting the occasional illegal abortion.
The differences between Schindler and Petiot go well beyond that, though, because, during the German occupation of France, Dr. Petiot spread the word that he was helping Jewish refugees flee the German occupiers that were catching and sending them to concentration camps. For a lean 25,000 francs, he would make sure the refugees would be free of the Nazis’ murderous clutches. He would convince the refugees that they needed to be vaccinated to travel, but would instead murder them.
Eventually, a fire broke out at Petiot’s home, and police encountered a horror rivaling that of war. Dozens of bodies – inside the house, in the basement, and in the adjacent stable – were found covered in quicklime (a caustic powder used to make plaster that can also dissolve bodies). They also found a bag with a headless corpse that was missing its organs, because yet again history needed to prove itself as completely and utterly pants-crapping-ly horrifying. The authorities at the time estimated that, judging from the amount of bodies, Petiot had made – wait for it…; – 200 million francs from the fees and the personal belongings of the deceased. For the sake of sanity, though, Petiot received his comeuppance in the form of execution by guillotine shortly after.