In 2008, the U.S. economy tanked. The devastation revealed how little even the “experts” understood our increasingly complex financial system, which we gradually understood to also be gamed by the foxes running the hen house.
Now six years later, the institutions who profited while individuals lost everything are going strong, thanks to some bailouts and a lack of regulatory response.
Humanists may hope that people can self-improve; unfortunately, the passage of time and events does not demonstrate any evidence to support this assumption. In 2014 we seem to be “outing” unethical behavior earlier (that is, before we are plunged into a macroeconomic crisis), but it appears to be technology rather than human virtue or evolution that is driving this phenomenon.
A recent example is the revelations emerging from the recent hack on Sony’s IT systems. These uncovered executive racial biases and, more conspiratorially, an all-out effort (in cahoots with Comcast…) to launch both a smear campaign and what The Verge blog labelled “legally ambitious” efforts disrupt the mechanics of the web to preserve their hold over entertainment content.
Such brazen attempts at manipulating markets may be unsurprising coming from industries that are effectively monopolies; yet they are actually rewarded when they come from those seeking to “disrupt” monopolies. One need only to reference obligatorily-referenced bad Bros at Uber, a firm that sometimes overtly, sometimes obscurely, breaks laws, laughs at the notion of ‘ethics’ and obfuscates commerce for market share. The primary consequence for such repulsive practices seems to be ongoing funding driving increased market share and multi-billion-dollar valuations. If you’ve read about the growing interest in social enterprise, you won’t be reading about Uber.
The tl;dr? Provided the end-game involves lots of cash, anything still goes regardless of whether you are a startup or an established Wall Street player. In an age where all is now available for the public record, shame on us for being shocked when bankers continue to ring in profits after scores of their customers have foreclosed, when crooks get funded, and when politicians back legislation funded by their own campaign funders.
Because it’s all there for us to see. True progress would entail us moving beyond outrage to actually doing something about it.
On a more positive end-note, I would like to end with some hope. Specifically, you can help stop the money trail in politics and business by supporting Mayday. It’s the most fundamental way I know of to address the root cause of so much that is broken in our country today. Merry Christmas!