"A wise man speaks
A fool speaks too
And promises are made
But which is which
And what is what
It's all a sad parade"
- From "This Crazy World" © Dave Tutin / openDmusic
Yes, that's a verse from one of my own songs that will appear on the upcoming album Beneath A Flagless Moon.
It came to my mind as I was reading this morning of yet another Hedge Fund Manager being put away for 5 years. He actually deserved longer but that's not the point of this piece. And his "defense" - saying he knew he'd done wrong and had since found Jesus - well, that just made me want to puke.
The political right wing in this country is working hard to make anyone who is pro regulation of the financial markets appear anti-American, anti-business, anti-profit. But it's a dangerous path.
Let's face the inescapable truth. If people running the major banks and other financial instituions, and the people running insurance companies - particularly in healthcare, had better moral compasses we would not need regulation.
Every time a Hedge Fund multi-millionaire (or billionaire) gets locked up for criminal insider trading it is the most powerful arguement for regulation that could ever be made. But the bigger problem is the criminals who are NOT getting caught.
The big banks KNEW that the mortgage-based derivatives they were selling were junk. The rating agencies that gave them triple A approval KNEW they were lying. This is no less criminal than insider trading.
The simple reason that the majority of American businesses today need strict regulation is because they are led by men and women who are far too willing to cross the line. The line between reasonable profit and pure greed. The line between benevolence and destroying a workforce just to maintain quarterly numbers. The line between building an economy and building a personal fortune.
It's easy to see the economy and business as these impersonal, giant, all-powerful entities but - and this is not to agree with the ridiculous ruling by the Supreme Court - they are comprised of people. They are led by people. Decisions - all of them apart from computerized stock trading (which is something that along with Hedge Funds should simply be outlawed) - are made by human beings. People don't fire themselves, they are fired by a so-called manager who knows that cutting staff is the most reliable way to be able to say, "I made my numbers this quarter." Money takes presedence over lives in today's America.
Organizations are not criminal until they are run by criminals. And we have allowed the right wing in this country to convince some of us that the success of our banks and big businesses is more important than the prosperity of the average American. This is criminal. It is immoral. It is wrong.
And until we start demanding that people who cross the line from management to manipulation, from leadership to criminality are penalized for their crimes the situation will not improve. It has long been said that the wrong people go into politics in this country. I think it's time we recognized that we also have the wrong people in leadership positions within corporations. And particularly on Wall Street.
Wall Street is not inherently bad for this country. But it's current leaders are bad for Wall Street.