Are Bankers People too?

30 10 2011

You may have seen this nasty leaflet that’s making the rounds on the ‘net, reportedly dropped by someone at the Chicago Board of Trade on top of “Occupy Chicago” protesters Wednesday afternoon as they rallied alongside unions in the city’s financial district.

The text, which dates back to more than a year and a half ago, is so vicious that it makes one wonder if it wasn’t somehow written expressly to demonize financial traders themselves.  If there’s any question what a livelihood devoted to greed and craving does to one’s soul, the misery of the leaflet’s author speaks for itself.

Nasty leaflet dropped on Occupy Chicago

Are bankers really people too?

The more enlightened among us would respond with compassion, and the reminder that bankers are people too, and unlike the above example, some of them are very nice people at that.

But at rarefied moments of global tumult such as this, we can’t help but wonder, “What would Noam Chomsky say?”

When you look at a corporation, just like when you look at a slave owner, you want to distinguish between the institution and the individual.  So slavery, for example, or other forms of tyranny, are inherently monstrous.

But the individuals participating in them may be the nicest guys you can imagine:  benevolent, friendly, nice to their children, even nice to their slaves; caring about other people—as individuals they may be anything.

In their institutional role, they are monsters, because the institution is monstrous.  The same is true here.

—Noam Chomsky, in the award-winning documentary The Corporation

Noam Chomsky in The Corporation

"They are monsters, because the institution is monstrous."

Update:  “Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?” NY Times Op-Ed, 10/29/11.




2 responses

30 10 2011

NY Times Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman, 10/29/11
“Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?”

CITIGROUP is lucky that Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed when he was. The Libyan leader’s death diverted attention from a lethal article involving Citigroup that deserved more attention because it helps to explain why many average Americans have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The news was that Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.

It doesn’t get any more immoral than this. . . . According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. ‘The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.’”

1 11 2011

“On working with predators in finance,” by Anonymous, 11/1/01

“I work with clients in the banking and investment industry and see both the good and the bad. It isn’t a “necessary evil”; it just is. People have dreams of having big money, enough to retire when the time comes, or maybe younger if the right set of circumstances smile upon them. Coming from a museum background into this arena was truly enlightening. . .

“They are predatory; if you get between them and what they do, they will run you down. For them, the necessary steps to handle the problem aren’t enough, and anyone beneath them is unworthy. . .

“That trader (or traders) in Chicago, who wrote that letter for the OWS crowd, was well aware of one aspect of this industry akin to gambling; it’s the House’s rules, and the House never loses.”

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