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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Turn, Turn, Turn: The Shaming

I Disapprove

[Update: From The Guardian:
[Occupy Wall Street activist Jeff] Smith saw the op-ed in part as illustrating the success of Occupy's impact on the public impression of the finance industry. "If there is shame, if there is guilt starting to emerge in these guys, that's Occupy Wall Street's contribution..."
]

Last mid-September, I posted an essay entreating us all to begin a shaming process upon the mongers of finance (Shunning The Money Changers, - September 16, 2012 - unbeknownst to me at the time, Day 1 of #OccupyWallStreet):
...There are few things more powerful than shunning that will dissuade undesirable behavior. When it comes to the money changers, we have made a terrible mistake.

[snip]

There are few more soulless endeavors in the world than making money from money. While I certainly have problems with capitalism in general, I am not talking about the bankers who provide capital to kick-start or expand businesses - I am talking about the Masters Of The Universe who frenetically shift money from one place to the next, their eyes only upon maximum profit, even if that profit comes at the expense of others.

Yet, when we meet these devils socially, we gaze admiringly at the fine cloth of their suits, at their cars, at their platinum and ebony credit cards. We laud their "accomplishment" by imitating their clothing and ostentatious spending. In this way we give approval to their greedy behavior, and this is why they dare display this plumage...
Today in the New York Times, executive director Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs, explains why he's calling it quits (emphasis mine):
Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs...

...It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.
Nelson D. Schwartz on the business pages responds with A Public Exit From Goldman Sachs Hits at a Wounded Wall Street:
...Mr. Smith, a London-based executive director for Goldman Sachs overseeing equity derivatives, decried a drastic change in culture at the firm since he joined it 12 years ago, with profits now coming before the interest of clients who, he wrote, are often derided as “muppets” by people at Goldman.

Mr. Smith is saying publicly what others whisper privately...
This is the only thing that works. Arrests and prosecutions won't do anything at all as long as the miscreants have the "hearts and minds" of society - I say this as one who has spent a lifetime on the wrong side of the law when it comes to drug use. In this way, (real) police action suffers the same fate of the euphemistic "police action" of occupation - if the populace isn't on your side, you're going to suffer a slow grind to inevitable defeat, all the while feasting on the bitter crow of irrelevancy.

But - BUT! - if the people decide a behavior is unacceptable, the ripples of social consequence will flush the outliers from their complacency and create real change. This is how MADD took out drinking and driving (sure, it's a lucrative cottage industry for law enforcement - mostly because of increasingly Draconian standards for violators - but you hardly hear anyone publicly holding forth on his or her "auto-pilot" skills these days), and this is why there are entire fashion lines sporting a marijuana leaf, but not much plumage for aficionados of methamphetamine.

So, it looks like the worm is turning for the greedheads, and no small credit goes to the #Occupy movement itself. Thank you, and...

#OccupyEverywhere!

Judy Collins being sublime with Pete Seeger

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