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24 March, 2009

Wall Street's Economic Crimes Against Humanity

By refusing to consider the consequences of their actions, those who created the financial crisis exemplify the banality of evil, writes Shoshana Zuboff.

The financiers at AIG were awarded millions in bonuses because their contracts were based on the transactions they completed, not the consequences of those transactions. A 32-year-old mortgage broker told me: "I figured my job was to get the transaction done ... Whatever came after the transaction - that was on him, not me." A long list of business executives have reaped sumptuous rewards even though they fractured the world's economy, destroyed trillions of dollars in value, and disfigured millions of lives.

But what I love the most about this article is the following comment: BRAVO!!


Crimes against humanity, my sweet pattootie! "Getting your job done" is the very essence of the alienating division of labor characteristic of any civilized society. It's the perfume of wealth. It means do your job, get your paycheck and don't waste time noodling your nose where it won't do no good. Does the auto worker lay awake at night agonizing over what living beings may have suffered, died or been otherwise wrecked on account of the latest auto off the assembly line? If it weren't for such things as cold-hearted callousness, there would be no such thing as polluted rivers, the Grand Banks Off Newfoundland would still be a rich underwater wonderland, there would be no strip-mines, suburban sprawl, weed killers, insecticide, nuclear waste, bombing ranges, devastated rain forests, no computers (highly toxic devices), nor computer servers, nor web pages; no cars, newspapers, bicycles, plastic bags, tennis shoes, cotton industry, etc.

We, all of us, in today's modern consumerist world profit on the ready availability all kinds of toxic assets (literally). We wouldn't know how to live with out relentlessly poisoning Mother Earth, at least I wouldn't. I'm as big a consumerist Earth-poisoning pig as most anyone (My profound apologies to real pigs which are beautiful acts of pure miraculousness).

These bigwig trader types are just like the rest of us. Their only big crime was they slipped a bit and made it so that now we can't slurp up our ill-gotten gain with all of our accustomed alacrity. For that we deem them criminal, and that only. I say we should give them an award for revealing themselves to be those who are the most like the rest of us. A Nobel Prize should be created in their honor. Statues erected.

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