It took a relatively obscure former British academic to propagate a theory of the financial crisis that would confirm what many people suspected all along: The “corporate psychopaths” at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame.
Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of “people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry” lack a “conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people.”
Such people do exist, of course. But that’s not the point. This sort of behavior is self-defeating in any operable society because those who operate in that world quickly find themselves with few friends and fewer opportunities. Word gets around.
Soon nobody will do business with you without donning a titanium butt-plate first, as they get tired of being violated. That in turn drives up your cost of doing business and suddenly your competitors have an edge. They exploit it, and now you’ve got trouble — if you don’t reform you’re soon out of business.
This is the usual dynamic. It led those who were psychopaths to practice “quick hit” economic acts. In the old West the huckster ripped off someone or robbed a stagecoach, but never showed up in town and plied a trade for any length of time, because they’d never get away with it — soon the lynch mob would appear and give you a permanent necktie. In the more-modern era you were simply run out of business and then run out of town.
But something happened in the 1990s and into the 2000s. The Government became infested with the same sort of game, and started to embrace and even sleep with some of these monsters — sometimes literally! Government found that it could run the same game that was plied in the old days of “snake oil” and use it to buy votes, and so long as they made more and more outrageous claims the voters would suspend their disbelief and continue to buy into their games at the ballot box.
Now the psychopaths in the business world had a partner who would shield them — literally — from the consequences of their actions. Money laundering, bogus securities that the sellers knew were worthless, even actual bribery became part of the business model and the justice system was blinded by those handlers in the government, who relied on the very same hucksters to finance their political promises!
So yeah, sure, we have psychopaths on Wall Street. But the real problem doesn’t lie there.
The root of this problem lies in Washington DC, because without their active cooperation there would have been thousands of indictments, trials and prison sentences handed out by now.
But in point of fact there have been none.