People in the driving seat will always collude, always try to twist the rules to suit themselves and to create an ongoing monopoly. It’s in the nature of the game and you might as well try to change human nature than prevent this from happening.
If it means that one firm goes to the wall after being outmanoeuvered by another, then that’s the cut-throat nature of the game they’ve chosen to enter. It’s a completely different game to include the homes and jobs of the vulnerable, ordinary people as a means of furthering one’s profit margin. At that stage, we’re getting into a whole new ball game.
In the Tavakoli interview in Part One, a few references were made to why New York could not see what was going on, why it was New York which caused much of this and why, in other parts of the States, things seemed to be able to run without the rampant greed. It was also noted that “when you get some bad apples in, they tend to draw more bad apples in.”
Those bad apples also tend to gather, to congregate, in central places, e.g. New York or The City, in Rome, Paris or Geneva, to name a few places. With those bad apples at the centre of the action, the hub, their particular brand of malfeasance tends to radiate outwards and is characterized by:
1. Rampant greed which throws off all shackles and lauds cavalier action;
2. A culture of concealment and lack of conscience;
3. The desire to be technically within the laws they themselves newly create but in fact are far from legitimate in their manner of doing business;
4. Unaccountability and the inability of any regulatory body to curb them.
Why does it particularly seem to occur in certain places and in certain career paths?
Here is a summary of the plot of Friedrich Schiller’s The Ghost-seer:
The main character is a German Prince who is manipulated by unknown forces during a visit to Venice. At first, the Prince is moral, pious and intellectually curious, but unfortunately his religious convictions are of a simplistic Pietist kind. He is also very superstitious and easily lead. A group of conspirators, led by a mysterious Armenian, takes advantage of this.
First, they stage a Spiritualist seance during which the spirit of the Prince’s best friend is conjured up. Next, they reveal that the seance was just a hoax. By this double bluff, the conspirators make the Prince lose his religious faith, and turn him into an out-and-out sceptic.
As a sceptic, the Prince becomes immoral, lustful and completely disinterested in serious philosophy. He begins to advocate what’s essentially an early version of Nietzscheanism: life is meaningless, and the only thing that matters is brute power. How or why power is won, is irrelevant. Eventually, the Prince realizes that his new “philosophy” only brings him personal unhappiness. How can anyone be happy, if life is meaningless?
Unfortunately, the Prince doesn’t want to end his immoral lifestyle. He wants “meaning” only for the sake of his own personal consolation. At this point, the conspirators strike again, and eventually convert the Prince to a false religion: Catholicism. The conversion is facilitated by stage-managing an unhappy love affair with a devout Catholic woman. In other words, the Prince embraces Catholicism for reasons of lust, rather than reasons of faith or intellectual conviction.
During his stay in Venice, the Prince goes deeply into debt, to finance his new libertine lifestyle. At the end of the story, he begins to contemplate a coup in his German principality, and perhaps an assassination of the legitimate heir to the throne, simply to get his hands on the family fortune. The story ends with the Prince attending a mass celebrated by the Armenian, who turns out to be a Catholic priest.
The history of the Lombards, why the Jews became involved with them and how the Templars got in on the action is a complex one and is interwoven with the Venetian spy system, second to none in its day. They spread to every major European city and became a City within a city, subject to their own rules and with freedom of movement across borders and freedom from local regulation.
This is a word much bandied-about and whether there is an Evil Entity directing operations or whether it is just that a collection of people with loose morals, in one place, tend to aid and abet one another, it is certain that proximity to certain hubs tend to corrupt – just look at the Westminster expenses scandals.
Now, it’s not letting the individual MPs off the hook but if each had been told, clearly and succinctly by the whips and permanent heads that such ‘n such a perk was simply not on, then those MPs wouldn’t have dared try it on.
No, someone or something was in there giving the nod, tacitly telling them that it was OK.
Similarly at Abu Ghraib, Lindy England was a girl, a soldier who understood that it was quite OK to do what was in those photos, to do what Lt William Calley did in Vietnam, say. Someone let it be known, in a field where compliance with the rules is paramount, that certain things would be overlooked.
Now that entity is culpable. If my class of schoolkids is slovenly, then are the kids culpable? To a point but you see where this is going.
You can look at Hank Paulson and hotly deny he’s evil, yet look at what his actions and his subsequent denials over those actions has produced, he and the others. Can a man be a good man when evil consequences flow from his actions? What does one say when he is clearly not alone in this but those consequences appear across the known developed world and the same names are part of the same organizations which meet in the same places and claim they are just social clubs?
On the rare occasions they are held to account, e.g. in Andy Jackson’s day, then a whole host of excuses comes out:
1. It wasn’t illegal;
2. I was following orders;
3. I didn’t know what I was doing;
4. It was for the nation [or for the children];
5. I was misled by bad people [the only accurate one].
What does Hank Paulson say to the millions whose assets have taken a hit, whose mortgages have defaulted and who are out of work? He says 6. “Nothing to do with me.” None of these men and women are ever to blame. It’s the people who are to blame.
Evil is an illusory thing – when you finally meet up with the source of so much trouble, the person can often appear urbane, witty, friendly and intelligent, with impeccable manners, not the brute beast we imagine. And yet the results of his actions say he’s a monster.
In Andy Jackson’s day, an angry mob picketed Nicholas Biddle‘s house, sheeting home the blame to the correct source. The question of what to do with these men and women today, if we can get to them, is the major question because without stopping them and the evil behind them, we will go right back to where we were before all this began and it will happen again, further down the track.
As Janet Tavakoli said, we need to go after these bad guys. As Calvin Coolidge said, after Teapot Dome – let the guilty be punished. So far we’ve treated the symptoms, not the root cause.