Human Frailty, Criminality and Wall Street

Ronald Reagan’s mantra-by-acclaim that “Greed is good” is finally beginning to squeak a sour note as some Wall Street mobsters are called to walk the gauntlet exposing their defalcation of America’s economy, and their idea of redistributing wealth. Tuesday was a very revealing day as Goldman Sachs’ executives paraded before members of the US Congress in a very proud and unrepentant way.

Goldman Sachs’ CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, Fabrice “Fab” Tourre and less colorful financial centurions were grilled by members of a tweedledee-tweedledum legislature that a decade before had commandeered and taken out regulatory controls which FDR had put in place during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and, irrefutably, the key reason for the present state of affairs in both the US and other world economies. Perhaps more than grilling, we could define it as grandstanding! In fact, much concern about the impropriety of the usage of the terms “crap” and “shitty deal” – when referring to what GS execs thought of the financial products they were selling – is a laughable issue given the holocaustic economic behavior which far surpasses any levity which may be considered vulgar. It is the “vulgus” (the masses, ordinary people) who’s being screwed by the MF elite. And Blankfein stating his concern with a straight face to a Bloomberg reporter that it’ll be difficult for Goldman Sachs to restore its reputation now… no shit!

Fear not, Mr. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’ alumni still run much of the economic affairs in America from top influential positions in government, and the lobbies which run it.

After spending most of Tuesday engrossed in the Goldman Sachs hearing, getting an earful on issues dealing with loyalty, honor, truth and America’s predatory capitalist system represented by both the criminal element of Wall Street as well as their active defenders – the hypocrites that make up our legislative branch of government – I had a most interesting meeting later in the day with a person who had been put to the test in terms of loyalty, honor and truth, as well.

Coincidence had it that mid-afternoon I met during a personal business transaction with a former midshipman from Annapolis, one who had been expelled from the Academy as a result of the 1992 cheating scandal, perhaps the greatest scandal in the history of all military academies in this country. He was one of two dozen “mids” expelled, as I recall, for telling the truth… while the number of those involved implicated 133 of their mates. But others lied, and since the honor system at Annapolis gives an even greater value to loyalty (military camaraderie) than to truth – you never bilge (tell) on a classmate – the liars ended up getting their commissions and diplomas in 1994, while the honest ones who admitted their involvement were punished… and thrown out.

As it turned out, this honest and personable young man, who would later co-author a book on the subject matter, ended up receiving his bachelor degree in engineering at the University of Washington in 1995, where – coincidentally once again – I was in attendance at that commencement, as one of my daughters was receiving her own bachelor’s degree. [The commencement speaker, Tom Brokaw, had a very interesting theme in honoring those who fought in World War II, the last “honest” war this nation has engaged in – assuming that we accept the notion that some wars are necessary.]

As Tuesday came to an end, and I was weighing in the contrast between the veniality of dishonest acts performed by most of us at one time or another, due to our frailty, usually with personal consequences, and the criminality of those who destroy or diminish the lives of others, such as the Wall Street moneychangers and their government lackeys, I came to realize that living in a plutocracy, no matter how much “captive-freedom” we’re given, is no longer fun. But, do we really care; and are we, the people living in this nation, really capable to effect change?

The answer to our inability to effect change, the impunity with which the ongoing economic holocaust is taking place – and which is far from over – came to me bi-focally. At the end of Tuesday’s trading day, one in which the Dow Industrials had a 1.9 percent drop in value, the stock of Goldman Sachs had increased in value $549 million… or, ironically, about 1.9 percent! In your face, America, that will show you who is boss! And, as I went to Amazon online to order a copy of the dishonored midshipman’s book, “A Question of Honor: The Cheating Scandal That Rocked Annapolis and a Midshipman Who Decided to Tell the Truth” (Hardcover)… prices became a clear indicator of what is important to Americans these days: 16 new books at $1.78 each; 58 used books at 4 cents each; and 1 collectible (?) at $16.99. For less than $50 I could have purchased the entire title’s inventory at Amazon!

Redemption for the midshipman, now a professional engineer and little league coach… rebuke not only for the Wall Street thieving thugs, but the rest of us who have permitted to have democracy stolen from us. How apropos as we come to May Day, International Workers’ Day, a day with American roots going back to 1886 and the tragic Haymarket affair, but negated – by way of legislation – in our nation and replaced by, of all stupid things, Law Day! Capitalism, no matter how predatory or obscene, mustn’t be tainted with that “horrible” Socialism that claims to care about people, the commons… you and me! The brainwashing of Americans continues alive and well. Hopeful May Day!