Barry Ritholz devotes a long post to proving something we all know intuitively, that many Wall Streeters and politicians, are psychopaths:
According to psychologists and sociologists – many on Wall Street and D.C. are not like you and me. They are literally psychopaths.
Reuters reported Tuesday:
In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.
Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.
A number of commentators think the numbers are low, because of self-reporting. For example, Richard Eskow writes:
I discussed the survey with a few other people familiar with the banking industry, and they had the same reaction I did: If anything, those numbers sound low. That makes sense. Admitting your criminal inclinations to a total stranger isn’t as easy as telling a them your favorite color or what kind of music you like.
(via The Big Picture)
Apparently, some of our overlords actively recruit psychopaths, which makes a weird kind of sense. They are ideally suited to the pursuit of money no matter the cost to other humans.
As with the bankers, the political culture is now such that being a psychopath is practically a requirement of the job, though I would argue it’s for slightly different reasons. Who else would endure the slings and arrows of modern day politics, in which anyone who has a shred of decency is inevitably exposed to endless and baseless attacks? Only a small number of otherwise normal people can absorb that sort of punishment and remain decent. Psychopaths, on the other hand, can not only absorb it, they almost glory in it, so they can survive and thrive in today’s political climate. And, of course, they are willing to do anything it takes to win, having neither empathy, conscience, or principles. The Democrats have their share of these folks, but their natural homeland is the Republican party, which has long since expelled any politician with a particle of integrity. While this process has been going on, the American people have been trained to expect their politicians to be psychopaths. They expect nothing more, and rarely get it. The reaction of the nation to Watergate now seems almost quaint. Similar crimes were committed almost non-stop in the Bush years, and no doubt Obama has committed his share, but no one would dream of impeaching a president for those kinds of crimes. If Obama is ever impeached, and it may happen if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, it will be for crimes that can be perceived only in the fevered brows of the psychopaths who will be doing the impeaching.