I’m back, so it's time to commence whining about the people who are destroying our society. Not that I've managed to completely forget them, but it certainly helps to be in comparatively sane Vermont.
While in that island of sanity (only one Wal-Mart in the whole state) I began reading Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Equality, in which, among other things, he debunks the idea that our overlords are overachievers of some sort. In fact, as most of us could intuit, they are simply very powerful people who have managed to game the system so that they always win. Among other strategies, they seek to avoid transparency. The less their customers understand, the more they can induce them to make a sucker’s bet. So the following, from a story in Saturday’s Times, about the Facebook and other high-tech stock offerings, struck a chord:
In times of optimism, that knowledge dearth can actually work to the advantage of technology companies. Executives fill that emptiness with promises of paradigm-breaking ways of doing business, prompting Wall Street analysts to project amazing profits. Investors get excited and flock to their stock debuts. In short, it’s all about being seen as extraordinary.
In my humble little legal world, in which even the bankers are not these sorts of bankers, filling “emptiness with promises” is another word for fraud, but when you let the scam artists make the rules – well, then it’s an entirely different story-a perfectly legitimate way to do business. Results are the same as what we call fraud, of course. The folks making the empty promises walk away with billions (“millions” is so yesterday), while the suckers just walk away empty.