Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Robbin in the Hood

Gangsta in Chief

Bernard Madoff will go down in the annals of gangsta capitalism as one of the big time hitters. The allegation that Bernie made off with over $50 bn worth of his clients assets is stunning. It exemplifies the pervasiveness of corruption in America Inc. Its hard to fathom how a well respected man of supposed integrity and character could carry on such a massive criminal enterprise. Even more distressing is that many of the victims considered Bernie to be a trusted and beloved friend. Bernie apparently also victimized and plundered a number of non-profit endowments that entrusted the stewardship of their economic sustenance to this man. Bernie’s clients at the Palm Beach Country Club where he was a member, have been devastated by their financial losses. Loss of face, the loss of a friend , faith and trust will be much more difficult to replace. Many of Bernie’s client’s are noted philanthropists whose donations are critical support lifelines for a number of Jewish charities and the State of Israel. They will be hurt. Bernie did some major damage. Bernie wantonly victimized anyone and everyone. I can’t see how this guy can live with himself. He must be on some kind of suicide watch.

How can you explain this? Bernie’s behavior is borne from a sense of radical entitlement. This radical entitlement is the unbridled id. It affirms that self actualization and greed has taken full possession of the American soul. This capitalist ethos is learned from our participation within corporate institutions. This ethos is taught at all levels of our schools. It is preached by our churches and TV Evangelists (both secular and religious). It is shouted by athletic coaches and modeled by parents showing their children how to excel in a competitive world to attain all the riches that America Inc has to offer.

I fear that we have adopted the behavioral, ethical, spiritual and moral characteristics of our corporate institutions. This corporatism has taken full possession of our psyches. It started long ago as the barriers of personal life and work were removed. The distinction between work time and personal time eroded as the demands of our vocations grew and the rationalization of capitalism crept on to claim a greater stake in our culture. We have long witnessed how jobs and careers assumed greater importance for individuals and the negative impact absentee fathers and mothers had on the family. Careerists reluctance to take vacations were compensated by extensive business travel schedules. The focus and zeal for their corporate contributions dissipated the time, attention and energy they could give to family. This created a personal balance sheet that was asset rich; flush with monetary enrichment and ego satisfaction built from corporate reward. These assets had to balance out potentiality massive family liabilities which were addressed with material hush money or the installation of a strict family corporate regime.

The time honored admonition of don’t mix work with pleasure and don’t bring work home is forever gone. Company work from home programs, telecommuting and running home based businesses has installed corporations as a permanent lodger at the center of hearth and home. American’s growing addiction to the incessant beeps of Blackberries and the finger and thumb Pavlovian response feed a cultural disease that celebrates a collective attention deficit disorder providing a convenient escape from the shock and awe of our daily lives.

Human beings are not corporate entities and corporations are not human beings. If we assume the pursuit of our radical entitlement is ethically sound until it is checked by a market regulator or law enforcement official or other institutional safe guard we are left to our own conscience that is driven solely by the profit motive that feeds and an aggressive self preservation. American’s have fully internalized a capitalist ethos. In this era of lax oversight and regulation we are all at risk for the next scam by a nation of corporate sharpies intent on getting what they believe is theirs to be had.

Bernie is a poster child for this behavior. We just a well should be building a statue to the man. He exemplifies and reifies all of the contorted and grotesque ideals of our shared capitalist ethos.

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Risk: culture, psychology, family, economics

December 18, 2008 Posted by | culture, economics, hedge funds, Madoff, psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment