Social Question

jerv's avatar

Opinions: What do you think of the Feds protecting white-collar criminals? (See article)

Asked by jerv (31071points) February 17th, 2011

I just came across an article titled Why isn’t Wall Street in jail? and I would like to hear what you have to say about it.

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49 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Because there is nothing new about corruption.
What else is there to say?
It happens.
All the time, always has, always will.

Ladymia69's avatar

I think the CEOs (who favor their intellects as being higher than the average street criminal) should be dragged through the streets and treated twice as badly, just because of that fact.

marinelife's avatar

And they won’t be in the future, because the Republican house members have just slashed the hell out of the SEC’s budget.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Gee, ya think it might have something to do with the heavy cross-pollination between the upper-level WS moguls and political appointments in DC—especially at Treasury, Commerce, and the Fed Reserve? Especially from Goldman Sachs? And then there is the incredible amount of money that has poured into the campaign funds from WS on top of the apparent sinicures from both sides? It begs the question: Why do the voters put up with this shit?

Ladymia69's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Why do we put up with it? Tell me if we have a choice. What can we do?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Well, it isn’t going to be easy, but we have to do something about our lobbying system in Washington which would be considered out-and-out bribery in other democracies, our system of campaign financing that turns perfectly good candidates into political whores by the time they reach DC, for a start. That would help in getting some candidates in who might actually work in the interest of the people who vote them into office. Then there would be a chance to overturn some of the Supreme Court decisions that have overwhelmingly biased civil law in favor of corporations. It’s a long haul, but if Americans were really interested in getting their democracy back, that’s where they need to start. But they seem to be more interested in watching TV.

There is always a choice. Even during the darkest days of Stalinism, the masses were able to influence domestic policy in the form of bread riots, etc., but it came at a high price for little gain. But it is possible if the will of the people is strong enough. Look at what is happening in Egypt at this very moment.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s hard to know what to do. The SEC exchanges high priced lawyers with all the banks and their legal firms, and everyone is buddy buddy with each other. The politicians who “watch over” the SEC all got elected with millions or billions of dollars from the banks. Even President Obama isn’t interested in cracking down on the banks.

The only other people who might crack down are the shareholders. But who owns or controls the shares? Why, big investment companies. It all works very well for the people running these companies, and for many employees fairly deep into the companies, so who is going to bite the hand that feeds them?

The only group that can put pressure on politicians is the press. They have to embarrass the politicians, in hopes they theis kind of back scratching will piss off the electorate and throw out the bums who are supposed to regulate the big money people.

Except, even if people do get all riled up, the new candidates will all get money from big money and be coopted even as they promise the electorate to go after big money. It seems hopeless. Like one of those mirror mazes where you end up facing yourself no matter which way you turn.

Maybe it’s just the cost of having a decent economy. I’m sure a lot of these people were hurt by the recession. Let’s hope they want to keep us out of another one. Hah! Like they have the ability to see through anything but their next stock option.

Pattijo's avatar

I say that we haven’t seen anything yet .

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t know about the article – I am reacting against it mostly because of the subtitle – that these are the people that “brought down the world’s economy.”

Now, I’m only seeing reference to a couple of people, a few individual emails, and amounts in the billions of “fraudulent” transfers.

Let’s keep in mind, I’ll throw out, that these firms were dealing in leveraged deals that were valued in trillions. I’m not excusing any of these activities – but it reads as hysterical to say that these individuals brought down the word’s economy when, really, there was a good solid interaction of many factors, firms were making billions on the transactions that turned out to be toxic, and they were in competition with each other such that they couldn’t reasonably stop because they were concerned about valuation problems without losing all their clients to people willing to take the risk, etc.

ETpro's avatar

Sure makes robing liquor stores look like a fools errand, doesn’t it. Chances are the store owner has a shotgun behind the counter. You get out alive and the haul is maybe $200 bucks. Get causght, and it’s 25 years in prison.

Instead, steal 200 billion and you get house arrest for a few days in the Hamptons, then you go back to work stealing more. Definitely we have the best legal system money can buy.

Ladymia69's avatar

@ETpro Yeah, that sure is laudable. ~~~

cackle's avatar

If you can’t beat em, join em. At least that’s what I did and it’s been working out quite well.

Ladymia69's avatar

@cackle No thanks…although I did end up working for the government :O…but it’s just the library.

cackle's avatar

I’m sure you get a nice pension and all benefits, yes?

Ladymia69's avatar

Pension? Not particularly. It’s just money that we put in from our paychecks. The county used to match it, but no more (guess why). The benefits are alright, but my mom works for a private company, and hers are better.

cackle's avatar

What can I say… There’s a lot of money to be made in the financial markets without resorting to criminal activity. When I said join em, I implied to join the system, not the criminal activity. Heck, I’m making money as I’m typing this, not that I didn’t lose any either, but no one talks about their losses. Losses are unavoidable, but you just need to make sure you’re gaining a heck of a lot more. :)

Kraigmo's avatar

Goldman-Sachs controls American monetary policy and I don’t understand why we put up with their existence. Americans let their politicians treat financial institutions as some sort of sacred cow.

Kill the cow.

12Oaks's avatar

I think that Rolling Stone Magazine would be near the bottom of a very long list of places I’d go for news, outside the music industry, of course.

Kraigmo's avatar

@12Oaks, well I hope you include AP, Reuters, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and AM radio at the bottom of your list, too. Since none of them are any better.

wundayatta's avatar

@cackle Are you making money for yourself or are you making money for a giant financial corporation as well?

‘Cause if you’re only making money for yourself, you’re being ripped off by the big companies that trade on insider knowledge and give all kinds of hidden bonuses to employees. On the other hand, if you’re working for a giant financial company, then thanks so much. Would you like me to bend over to make it easier?

cackle's avatar


I do both. I make make money for myself while making money for the investment bank I work for. I also privately invest in the foreign exchange market at night, since it’s open 24 hours, but I’m telling you first hand that you’re blowing things out of proportion. A few bad apples on wall street turns into everyone on wall street is a criminal? Common…How is this line of thought any different then a racist that dehumanizes an entire ethnic race because he/she had a bad experience with a few members of the group? I never had to resort to insider trading, nor have I received insider trading from the investment bank I work for. I do my job…I analyze financial markets which is exactly what I studied for. The risk tolerance that I have to put up with can easily put me out of a job. Don’t you think if I risk a lot, I deserve a lot of reward? Likewise, if my risk tolerance makes the corporation a lot of money, then a bonus is a token of appreciation, otherwise, it would be a free lunch for them which wouldn’t be worth it for me. Do you know why scientists and doctors salaries are so low compared to what financial employees earn? Two words, risk and fail. You cherry pick those that make billions, but what about the 90% of day traders that put up a lot of money(risk) and lose it all within six months(fail)? I happen to be good at what I do, otherwise, I would be calculated in the 90 percentile. Why not complain that water, which essential cost pennies, while diamonds which we can definitely live without, cost thousand’s? It’s very good that water cost so little because this ensures that its accessible by virtually anybody. Same goes for the scientists and doctors salaries…their service (or produce) is more accessible.

jerv's avatar

@cackle I was going to stay out of this, but I feel the need to respond to that last comment.
You are correct that the majority of investors earn their money legally, but this article is about the minority who don’t. By the same token, you never see a plane landing safely on the news, but there is all sorts of coverage for those that crash. Basically, the small percentage of bad in anything is worth more media coverage that things going normally.
As for risk, by that logic, those working in dangerous jobs deserve more than investors… or are you saying that life has little value compared to a stock portfolio?

cackle's avatar

I wasn’t responding to the article, I was responding to the generalizations that @wundayatta wrote ”‘Cause if you’re only making money for yourself, you’re being ripped off by the big companies that trade on insider knowledge and give all kinds of hidden bonuses to employees.”

As for risk, I suppose you have a point on those that work in dangerous jobs, but they did know what they’re getting themselves into. They knew how much they’re going to make for the risks they take. Just as I knew that the risk is worth the reward in the financial markets.

wundayatta's avatar

@cackle Did you read the article?

The people who committed fraud didn’t just rip off the general public. They also ripped off their employees. That’s what I was referring to.

If you work for a firm that operates completely ethically, that’s wonderful. The problem, according to this article, is that what is “legal” in the finance business changes with whoever is currently the Chair of the SEC… or not even. Maybe with the underlings who don’t want to sell out.

There are billions to be made. I’m sure you’ve made millions already. I have no problem with that. But what’s the point of being greedy, and trying to take more than the shareholders have agreed to pay you? Why play stock option and accounting games? Don’t you make enough without that?

I know that at your level it’s more like a video game. You don’t see the lives of people that are involved. It’s all risk and reward. I know you work very hard, and do all kinds of research and probably sleep in the office. Just as the numbers hide the people affected by these financial transactions, so is your life converted into a narrow focus that I would consider to be missing out on some things. But that’s your choice. I made mine and it was different. I’m not better nor worse because of it.

My wife allowed me to play with some of our money—less that 10%—during the tech bubble. I don’t think I lost 100% of what I invested. I guess I couldn’t have. But I’m pretty sure I had a fairly significant negative return on investment. So I am leaving my investment decisions to Vanguard and TIAA-CREF and Merrill and Wells and AXA and yuck. Far too much to really keep track of.

It’s kind of dehumanized to me, too. I work. Once a month my employer sends a few electrons over the wires and the numbers in my bank account and 401K rise. Each day, should I choose to check the markets, I would find some gains or losses. Over time, it’s been gains.

But it’s all numbers on a screen. It’s kind of unreal to think that the work I do ends up allowing me to buy a house or take a vacation—again, all with mere electrons flying arouind—some initiated by a piece of plastic, and others in other ways. It’s surreal, really.

cackle's avatar

My job does not put me in a position where I’m responsible for the welfare of the shareholders, therefore I cannot comment on someone else’s greed. I’ve a different position that was agreed upon. Don’t assume that money is only being made of the backs of shareholders. In this country we’re innocent until proven guilty, yes? It’s the laws you have a problem with, not the corporations. The regulations allow myself and corporations to do what they/we do. Remember that the recent commission reports blame the government, the financial district, and the consumers for the financial crisis. It’s not just walls street. As for when is it enough? Well, with more money comes bigger wants. If you haven’t noticed, the price for a better quality of life has gone up. With kids, houses, cars, food, clothing, private schooling, insurance, furniture, technology, vacations, luxury items, retirement, grand-kids, etc…one needs to make more and more. Don’t forget that if you don’t make money in a business that has the intentions to make money, then you get fired. Granted, it doesn’t effect me since I can do this work from home, but still…

iamthemob's avatar

If you haven’t noticed, the price for a better quality of life has gone up. With kids, houses, cars, food, clothing, private schooling, insurance, furniture, technology, vacations, luxury items, retirement, grand-kids, etc…one needs to make more and more.

This isn’t really true – the general trend in quality of life generally is just the opposite. Year after year we’ve been able to afford more and more stuff, at least in the U.S. Whether this is a good thing in the end is up for debate.

But it’s exceedingly important to note that, as @cackle mentions, there isn’t a clear “bad intent” behind the vast majority of the actors in the financial crisis. That doesn’t mean that the institutions are free from criticism, as it most generally can be considered fueled by self-interest that blinded people to the bubbling problems or influenced them to ignore them to everyone’s eventual detriment or at worst excessive greed.

This doesn’t have to be a condemnation to be a recognition.

jerv's avatar

@cackle Many who risk their lives do so with the intent of someday having enough money to buy their way into investing. Personally, so much of my income goes into housing, food, and maintaining a car so that I can get to work to afford to live indoors and eat regularly that I can’t really afford to play the finance game.
If Bill Gates lost $10 billion, he would not be eating out of dumpsters and sleeping on park benches like I would if I lost even $1,000.

iamthemob's avatar

@jerv – I think that line of thinking is objectively self-defeating. There’s a lot to be said for the promise of earning tons of profit creating much more value and contributing to many more lives than life-threatening rescue work.

Consider the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which may save billions of lives with its medical investment. Besides that, consider the simple job creation fueled by Gates’ success. And consider the ancillary benefits that smart investing creates by fueling good work done by investments, as well as innovations by businesses improving technology to react to disease, response organizations, etc.

If we are to measure whether someone “deserves” their money for the work they do, we must also take into account not whether they are putting themselves at risk, but whether the work they do improves the lives of others, how it does so, and how much and how many they’re affecting.

It’s funny that the debate seems to focus on the fact that people were given “bad loans.” Now I don’t argue this, but consider that many of these loans to buy a home for themselves and their families. How awesome is that, and why shouldn’t we try to securitize loans made to these people so we can make more of them and more safely?

Let’s face it – we went way too far. But isn’t that kind of a great agenda?

cackle's avatar


I know that my bills have gone up, not down.

Again, the commission report blames the irresponsibility of the consumers as well, despite whatever blinding or influence corps had. Look, I see what goes on everyday around me, how/what consumers do. Not to offend anyone, but they’re dumb as rocks. They don’t know how to manage money. You need to see how others live, hear their conversations, their mindset,and pay attention to their actions. In my eyes they’re adult children and expect someone else to look out for their consequences. American citizens just seem to not want any responsibility of their actions. Now, I’m not judging everyone, but they’re not free from criticism.


I hear ya, but that’s still their choice and their responsibility to come out of the very circumstances that they created.

iamthemob's avatar

@cackle – Have your bills outpaced your earnings? Have they gone up in dollar amount, or actual value? etc.

The question is not whether you’re paying more, but often now much your dollar can buy. And how quickly new items descend in price. On average, for instance, the poor in our country can afford mountains more than they could 50 years ago. And pull someone from a century ago into our time, and you’ll have people that will look at us and wonder why anyone is bitching about anything in terms of quality of life.

I agree that the consumers carry a lot of the blame. No sector is blameless. Part of the self interest and greed that I mentioned is, in fact, consumer greed. The desire for lower prices and more stuff pushes many of the corporate decisions to increase efficiencies or raise capital, which was part of what lead to the situation we’re in now.

cackle's avatar


The dollar is worth nothing. Obviously my earning supersede the rise of my bills, but compare it now to an average American salary (40k). The prices of everything goes up, the bills go up, money is worthless, and no increase in pay, same bills. Hell, I use to pay $5 for a few jugs of Poland spring water, now I spend twenty. One bunch of dill(the produce), I paid $1 prior to the crisis, not I pay $3.50–4. Property taxes doubled, water doubled. Look, obviously I make good money to afford all this, but now picture all this but with an average american salary, rather then mine.

iamthemob's avatar

@cackle – prices rise and fall, etc. – that’s the nature of the market. The price for a better quality life may have gone up for now, but that’s far from the general trend.

The perspective needs to be increased to look not only across present economic strata, but also across time.

cackle's avatar

Indeed, I was only speaking of the current situation.

jerv's avatar

@cackle Indeed it is my responsibility. How about floating me a loan to start my own CNC machine shop? It shouldn’t cost more than a million or two. Seriously, if I could get some startup capital, I would take a chance and try to make a lot of money doing what I do best as opposed to working to fatten somebody elses wallet. Screw my current income; running my own shop could make me millions! Too bad I lack the charisma to sell a business plan to potential investors/creditors.
As for choice, I did not choose to be born into a poor family, nor did I choose to be injured on the job and, thanks to an unscrupulous employer, wind up in a hole that took years to get out of, nor did I choose to be laid off for over a year. I do the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt, which unlike some people wasn’t great.
It irritates me to no end when people deny the role luck plays and figure that there is a direct correlation between hard work and success, therefore the poor are lazy or poor-by-choice. Like I said, not all of us can afford to start down the same road to success that others can, and some of us just aren’t lucky. That doesn’t make us lazy or stupid though.

@iamthemob I have always considered Bill Gates a bit of an exception; proof that not all of the financial elite are selfish, greedy pricks. As much as I dislike Microsoft, I admire Mr. Gates for taking some of his profits and diversifying/expanding his company, and for realizing that there is a point where one can have too much money and deciding to use the excess for the direct benefit of humanity. The same cannot be said of all people in the top tiers though.
On another note,i think that much of the complaining is because a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats yet income has not exactly kept up with inflation for many people. I know my quality of life declined during Bush-43 as a result. Where is the prosperity that some people talk about? Well, the incomes in the top brackets increased considerably, but for most Americans, there really wasn’t prosperity.
Watching the rich get richer while the rest of us are either stagnant or slipping backwards is frustrating, especially when some of those rich people got that way doing things that would get us thrown in prison yet don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

KonanBarbarian's avatar

Bribery will gain you quite a bit of cooperation from federal agents.

cackle's avatar

@jerv wrote “Too bad I lack the charisma to sell a business plan to potential investors/creditors.”

It’s too bad. By lacking a certain trait automatically limits you into certain positions. I know plenty of people who have gotten loans and bankrupt more then once. Over time, they bounced back, learned from their mistakes, and ended up becoming successful businessman. Why don’t you try extreme savings. Cut corners to an extreme for a period of time so you can save up. Money makes money.

As for luck, show me how luck played a role in my success? That’s like saying, “it irritates me to no end the role God plays in our lives”. Show me God, and show me his role in my life. As for the how not all of us start out with successful positions in life, and the hardships you may have had, do you deny that in historical and current generations there were/are people who were/are in much worse positions then you’re, and yet they still managed to succeed? If you deny it, then you deny history and realism. If you agree, then you have no excuses because there is always going was/going to be someone far worse who managed to succeed, and when I mean managed, I mean worked hard for it (not including lottery winners, or free hand outs of course).

jerv's avatar

@cackle Suppose that when you went for your current position, there were hundreds of people clamoring for that one slot, and about 50 of them were as qualified as you are. Your odds of getting that job are pretty slim since, even though your resume and all is above average, it isn’t the best in the world; there are a few other shining stars in that pool. Repeat that about 100 times or so. Such is the reality of today’s job market. Hell, many of the employers I tried to apply to stopped taking applications within 2–3 hours of posting since they already had over a thousand responses!

Yes, some people do go from worse than me to great success. Sometimes it is just being in the right place at the right time; luck. Sometimes you have a great plan and then the bottom drops out of the market; bad luck. Sometimes it is as simple as not having an accident and racking up massive medical bills, or not having your car snap it’s timing belt on the highway, or just not getting laid off and facing the type of job market we’ve had the last couple of years.

BTW, after my last lay-off, I spent most of the next year looking for anything to pay the bills rather than just restricting myself to machining jobs. It took me over a year to find one and be lucky enough to win the lottery and be picked over many others. Now for the luck part; not long after I got there, they needed a machinist, so I wound up back in a shop even though I wasn’t looking for a machinist job.

Personally, I have the type of luck that keeps me alive even if it doesn’t allow me to prosper. I have never been homeless for even a single night. I have always managed to put something on the table, even if it’s only a package of Ramen. I haven’t had it terribly bad compared to a lot of people, and that is what gets me.

See, I am called a lot of things because I am not earning a kajillion dollars, and there are enough people worse off than me that, by extension, those that call me lazy are also calling those below me (about half of America) lazy, worthless people who get more than they deserve.

Extreme saving? How do you think we managed to live indoors and eat regularly on just my wife’s income? Cutting corners and living like a miser may make you into a multi-millionaire pretty quickly, but for some of us it is almost as necessary as oxygen. Thankfully we are now in a position where we don’t have to do that; we now do so as a matter of habit, waiting for another shitstorm to flare up.

Fortunately for me, I am not greedy. All I really want financially is a job I like (which I have), that is secure (our company is healthy and growing, so I am secure there), and that has pay comparable to what others at my skill level and with my responsibilities earns (which I don’t get; my wages are closer to 60% of average). I value things other than dollars, and I don’t feel that wanting a fair-market wage is unreasonable. By the same token, I am not going to ruin my life in pursuit of money. I just want what I am worth. I tried it the other way half a lifetime ago and all I wound up with were tension headaches and anxiety issues. What is the point of vast amounts of money if your life sucks too much to enjoy it? Just give me $40K/yr (with cost-of-living raises to cover inflation) for what I do now where I do it and I will be more than happy. Hell, that might give me enough to save up to retire before I die! (I would need to save about 60% of what I currently earn to retire at age 70 at the same low income I have now; not enough to counter a few decades of inflation. If I earned average wages, I could maintain my current lifestyle and save enough towards my retirement to actually live on, if I live that long, or to take care of the wife if I don’t.)

cackle's avatar


If they’re only hiring a few people out of the 50 “equally qualified resumes”, then why can’t it be that those few that were picked and I had impeccable resumes when compared to the remaining 50? Why is it luck and not the quality of our qualifications that superseded the competition?

Luck as a fallacy. Another view holds that “luck is probability taken personally.” A rationalist approach to luck includes the application of the rules of probability, and an avoidance of unscientific beliefs. The rationalist feels the belief in luck is a result of poor reasoning or wishful thinking. To a rationalist, a believer in luck who asserts that something has influenced his or her luck commits the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy: that because two events are connected sequentially, they are connected causally as well. In general:

A happens (luck-attracting event or action) and then B happens;
Therefore, A influenced B.

In the rationalist perspective, probability is only affected by confirmed causal connections.
The gambler’s fallacy and inverse gambler’s fallacy both explain some reasoning problems in common beliefs in luck. They involve denying the unpredictability of random events: “I haven’t rolled a seven all week, so I’ll definitely roll one tonight”. Luck is merely an expression noting an extended period of noted outcomes, completely consistent with random walk probability theory. Wishing one “good luck” will not cause such an extended period, but it expresses positive feelings toward the one—not necessarily wholly undesirable. It cannot be shown that luck actually exists, hence luck is nothing more than a word used by one in a self delusional assumption of understanding events of which one is informed or which one witnesses. As such, it is a word which superstitious people use to simultaneously presume to have insight into events and, paradoxically, to cease efforts to understand the causes and effects of those same events. Taken from Luck

jerv's avatar

@cackle I think you missed the point. The sparkling resumes is what made them pick those 50 possibles (including you) out of the pool of hundreds/thousands. Maybe some of the others had either the quals or the presentation but not both. Regardless, the fact that you are 1/50 as opposed to 1/973 is a result of your skill; your ability to present a sterling resume with style.

As a gamer for decades, I know odds and probabilities better than you seem to give me credit for, though you probably didn’t know about that hobby of mine, so I won’t fault you for it. I believe that some things influence others and alter the probabilities, but they generally don’t cause them.

You cite the Monte Carlo fallacy but neglect the viewpoint that I hold; “The odds of rolling a seven are 6/36 or 1/6 regardless of past rolls while the odds of not rolling a seven at least once are (5/6)^x where x= the number of rolls, thus making it increasingly likely though not inevitable that I will roll a seven eventually, even if it’s not tonight.”. (Bad example though; a better one would be rolling double-aught on 2d10 as 1/6 odds are far better than 1/100. Just saying….)

Of course, that didn’t stop me from polishing up my resume writing skills to tip the odds more in my favor. Then again, it didn’t keep my old ‘94 Corsica from cracking it’s engine block miles from home either.

Luck exists. You just may call it something else.

cackle's avatar


Heh, I’ll agree to disagree. If knowing luck exists helps you out in life, so be it. I prefer to stay practical.

jerv's avatar

@cackle As do I, which is why I like the study of probability. It just seems more practical to me to know the odds and what I have to do to tweak them in my favor helps me make my own luck.

I have no problem disagreeing or agreeing to disagree; I just want to clear up a little of my own confusion here. What do you call the outcomes of random factors that many call “luck”? I actually agree that luck is probability taken personally, so I still think that there is the strong possibility that you and I actually agree but just use different terminology.

Ummm… how long is @ratboy going to be crafting an answer for? I thought Fluther had a time-out subroutine to trap such things :/

cackle's avatar


In that sense, I agree.

You noticed ratboy too, huh? He probably started typing, changed his mind, but forgot to clear the answer box as well as leaving the tabbed window open in his internet browser. As long as there are letters in the answer box, fluther will detect that he’s typing.

ratboy's avatar

@cackle: the IQ scores, for example, of roughly half the population lie to the left of the mean—“they’re dumb as rocks.” Many other traits that determine one’s course in life are similarly distributed; we can’t all be above average. A person with an IQ of 85 is unlikely to make a fortune as an investment banker regardless of how “hard” he works. There is randomness in the world, and events beyond an individual’s control do affect the outcome of his efforts. Whether one calls this “luck” or something else, it’s how things are and “if you deny it, then you deny history and realism.”

“The risk tolerance that I have to put up with can easily put me out of a job. Don’t you think if I risk a lot, I deserve a lot of reward? Likewise, if my risk tolerance makes the corporation a lot of money, then a bonus is a token of appreciation, otherwise, it would be a free lunch for them which wouldn’t be worth it for me. Do you know why scientists and doctors salaries are so low compared to what financial employees earn? Two words, risk and fail.”

Your risk strikes me as rather paltry—your job and, perhaps, your security. If you were to fail, you’d merely join the nine percent of the population that are currently unemployed. How would your entry into that group be any more catastrophic than anyone else’s? Given that you chose a risky business to engage in, it seems to me that you would have less reason to complain that the many talented and accomplished people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

I cannot address your specific circumstances, but one difference between jobs in science and medicine and those in finance is that most of the former yield some social benefit, while many of the latter have toxic effects. There is an interesting article in the Nov. 29 issue of “The New Yorker” entitled What Good Is Wall Street?, and subtitled “much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless,” that sets out this position.

I’m quitting before the end of my tirade as some have implied that I have been at this for too long.

cackle's avatar


First of all, the IQ exam has been heavily critiqued on its effectiveness in examining one’s intelligence. Secondly, as of 2010, the average American IQ is 91–100. As we can see, Americans are mentally fit to acquire knowledge. If you’re going to make claims in matters such as those that weren’t tested, or those with lower IQ’s are unlikely to achieve what one with a higher IQ can, then prove your claims. The only type that are incapable of acquiring knowledge are those with mental retardation. Anyone else has no excuse whats-so-ever. The only difference might be in the speed of acquiring knowledge. Some learn quickly, others require more time and effort. As I said before, there is always a time in history and now where there is an individual who’s in a position much worse then yours, yet eventually achieves great success.

Now, one who’s not suffering from mental retardation has basic reasoning skills, logic, and common sense, thus, is responsible for his/her own actions. As I said earlier, I see mentally capable adults who behave like children when it comes to monetary decision makings. I can only assume that a mentally capable adult is willing engaging in stupidity and thus is responsible for his/her irresponsibility. Furthermore, A Dr, or a lawyer, whose average IQ range is 115–130, does not make as much as I do, yet he/she went through a hell of a lot more schooling then I have. Am I smarter then them because I make more? No. I’m just an expert of my field, as they’re to theirs. I went where I can make the most amount of money, while they went were they can have a more stable, safer job with an above average salary. Those who have healthy minds, know exactly what they’re getting themselves into, and for those that don’t, then it’s their responsibility. Learn from your mistakes.

My “negligence” with money is exactly what makes me a ton of money. The more negligent you’re in this country, the more potential money you stand to acquire. I was willing to risk a lot of money in the hopes of making a lot more. If I lost, I’m bankrupt. If I won, I’m a success. Financial markets are always volatile and therefore, I’m always at a point of failure or success which is what allows me to make a lot of money each day, every hour, every minute, every second. An average American does not want to be negligent. One does not want to take $300,000 and invest it into a volatile financial market that can easily bankrupt him/her. The risk is just not worth it for him/her. Well, if no risk, then no reward. You go back to the stabler, safer standard system which is an average to above average salary for the work you do in your specific field.

Is there a law that states investment bankers must contribute to society? I don’t think there is one, so I guess I’m not doing anything wrong then, am I? Anything outside of laws are subjective values, thus if contribution to society isn’t a law, then a statement such as socially worthless is merely a subjective perspective. When you/others can justify one subjective value over another, then will talk more about it.

jerv's avatar

@ratboy Your answer was worth waiting for. We were just joking since we saw that box for more than a day.

@cackle There is no law that you must contribute to society, but self-preservation makes it a good idea. If nothing else, trickle-up economics mean that the lower brackets soon won’t be able to afford taxes, so the money-makers will shoulder the entire burden themselves. Or do you not give a shit about sustainability or the long-term effects of your actions?

cackle's avatar


The government is in the business of solving social problems, not me. I’m in the business to maximize profits.

jerv's avatar

@cackle That might be a little tricky when the peasants revolt ;)

Seriously though, you can still make a profit. However, I was under the impression that increasing your tax burden in the long run would cut into those profits. The more society needs government help to merely survive and the less money they have to pay taxes will hurt your wallet. Or do you prefer quick profit today as opposed to sustained profits for years to come? Think of it as an investment.

cackle's avatar


Who says it hurts my wallet? If anything, the bush tax cuts increased my wallet.

As for long term stability, that is out of my hands. I can’t predict the future nor can I stop it as an individual. It would require the cooperation of all the financial districts. Nonetheless, these are government issues, not mine, or any of the other financial institutes.

As far as I can tell, I’m making quick profit today and securing sustained profits for years to come. Anyways, the money I made during the housing bubble is in off shore accounts.

cackle's avatar

And no, it’s not for offshore tax evasion. – It’s to bank in an economically and politically stable jurisdiction if I reside in a country that has a corrupt banking system or is presently less than stable. Also, to maximize account activity privacy and protect financial assets from litigious claimants as well as benefit from more attractive account structures, interest rates, and bank in multiple currencies.

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