Friday, December 19, 2008

What Paul Krugman said

Really, there isn't much need to add to this.

But let me try anyway...

One thing Mr. Krugman brushes on but doesn't go into much depth is the essential question of morality.

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

After all, that’s why so many people trusted Mr. Madoff.
When we equate "makes lots of money" with "trustworthy" we have dealt a near fatal blow to our sense of morality. We lost our moral compass because, let's face it, no one wanted to be the party pooper. A few, like Mr. Krugman, made a valiant attempt, but I'm sure none of them enjoyed the derision. So to say they "wanted" to be the downer is wrong. They did so because their personal morality just wouldn't let them do otherwise.

One of the essential principals of good business should be to never take yes for an answer. If you are making business plans and NO ONE in your circle suggests a way in which the plan could go wrong, you should shelve it. Because there is no such thing as a foolproof plan. The refusal to see this will ultimately blind you to the danger and make it that much more likely you will fuck up. Never do anything without making a good faith effort to understand the potential pitfalls and never do anything without accepting those risks ahead of time.

What we are seeing today is the fuck up to end all fuck ups. Over the course of 30 years we have turned the vast engine of the America, quite possibly the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen, into a vast Ponzi scheme. The result was inevitable.

Anyone who thinks this mess can be cleaned up and turned around even in four years is, once again, unwilling to face reality. America can right itself. But I don't expect to see it fully recover before my grandchildren graduate from high school, and my oldest son is currently 15.

Interesting times.


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