Tag: dishonesty

Too Big to Jail

The current global economic crisis has taken us into an extraordinary new realm of irresponsibility. It is being depicted as a man-made calamity so vast and complex that nobody can be held accountable for it. This makes sense only to those who are afraid of being held accountable. As James Howard Kunstler puts it in his current blog post:

In the typhoon of commentary that’s blown around the world a step behind the financial tsunami that’s wrecking everything, two little words have been curiously absent: “fraud” and “swindle.”

The usual suspects in the authoritarian, “conservative,” and libertarian precincts of the blogosphere are united in proclaiming that this global meltdown, which may end up costing taxpayers trillions of dollars, is one big accident, in which no punishable acts have been committed. The reason for this strange claim of global amnesty is that that the most powerful players in government and business committed so many potentially punishable breaches of trust that nothing less than a wholesale turnover of the world’s leadership elites is called for. Because the commentariat works for these elites, they have declared that the guilty parties are effectively too big to jail. Here is a summary of the sophistries that are being deployed.

1. No individual/company/government is fully responsible.

2. The global financial system is too complicated for a cause to be found.

3. All political parties were implicated.

4. Everyone was doing it.

5. Nobody could have predicted the magnitude of the disaster.

6. Punishing people will not do any good.

The monetization of dishonesty

Stirling Newberry coined a brilliant phrase a few years ago: “A bubble is the monetization of stupidity.” Looking at the growing evidence of a financial meltdown in the US economy, I would argue for a broader assertion: recent American prosperity has been based on the monetization of dishonesty. Ever since the savings and loan scandal of the Reagan years, large-scale financial corruption seems to have become endemic to the US economy. This diary lists some of the evidence and addresses the unpleasant conclusions.