Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poison pill?*

UPDATE, November 3. And apropos of this theme, here's my son's short, comedic cinema verite treatment of the Occupy Movement. Look for his brief "interview" of the guy with the question mark sign. Worth the price of admission alone. ;)

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Apropos of Occupy Wall Street and related themes, I thought I'd remind faithful SHAMbloggers that back in November 2009, I wrote a very controversial piece for Skeptic in which I posited, among other things, that major white-collar criminals are far more deserving of th
e most serious penalties than, say, murderers. As regulars know, I'm not a huge fan of capital punishment, but if we're going to apply that extreme sanction, it should be based on the magnitude of a crime's overall impact on society. By that standard, a Ken Lay or Bernie Madoffor any of several execs at Goldman Sachswould move to the head of the line before even a guy like Charles Manson. And before anyone asks... Yes, I'm really serious, and yes, I truly believe this. The general hierarchy of criminality presented in the likes of the Ten Commandments, then passed on down through the generations in the form of the Judeo-Christian lens on criminal justice, was never all that commonsensical, in my view, and surely is out of touch with the havoc that today's financial crimes can wreak.

Understand, this is not about classism or "pension envy." This is about offenses that tear at the very fabric of society and, indeed, pose a threat of undoing civilization as we know it. A murder, in general, devastates a family or two. Although it is a horrific crime, as a rule the damage is contained. But Enron? Insider trading? The kind of greed-driven corporate shredding that occurred at the late-80s height of KKR-mania?

Something to think about, anyway.

Interesting, incidentally, that Bernie Madoff and his wife (who, of course, knew nothing about her husband's scheming; nothing at all) couldn't even pull off a good suicide.

* Those who don't follow business that closely may be unaware that poison pill is a term used for a particular type of counterattack against a hostile takeover. Such strategies were much in the news at the height of the wheeling and dealing of the aforementioned KKR.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Steve, here's a list of criteria for genocide, according to the ICC.

http://www.un.org/icc/crimes.htm#genocide

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

1. Killing members of the group;
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Now, of course, the ICC knows who the boss is, so prosecutions of bankers aren't due any time soon, but still some of those seem to fit quite well.
I think 2 and 3 are the best fit, but you can squeeze all 1 and 4 in as well.

Anonymous said...

Tell you what I've been impressed with, Steve, a lot of ex military have been turning up at the occupation protests (closely linked to your post), and rather than the snarling dogs they often are portrayed as, there are some articulate and thoughtful people entering the activist arena notably several marines of late.

RevRon's Rants said...

Okay, Salerno. It's pushing a month now, and not a peep out of you. Wife get inspired by a "Criminal Minds" episode and chain you to the bed? Too "busy" for mundane matters like a blog? Or are you and that young floozy languishing in some exotic locale... like New Jersey, tossing back Schaefer's boilermakers and recalling a time when you had less joint pain and more hair? Whatever it is, let us know you're OK (Or if my first guess is accurate, have the wife post at least a brief note, letting us know that "He hasn't suffered enough yet.").

Hope she lets you loose for Thanksgiving dinner, at least... but have a great one, however you choose/are forced to spend it. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

there's been some health stuff going on, ron. pretty seious, alas. not much more to say on thst score now. we'll see. thanks for checking on me.

Dimension Skipper said...

I had been wondering for a while about the status of things around here myself. I just chalked it up to probably a busy season for the 9-5 gig, but I had no idea. Hope everything works itself out in a positive way eventually, Steve, and that in the meantime you can have a nice holiday (or holidays/holidaze).

In a side note along similar health-related lines... Has anyone around here seen or heard anything of Elizabeth lately? I notice her blog is closed off, accessible only to invitees these days. I randomly came across something I thought would interest her and when I couldn't access her blog I emailed it along a few days ago. I haven't seen any response back yet. I'm concerned. I figure there's a decent possibility some others here may be more familiar with her situation than me. I don't need intimate details or anything like that, but if you know she's OK I would like to at least know that much. Thanks!

Otherwise Happy Thanksgiving to all SHAMbloggians...

Dimension Skipper said...

P.S. Actually I just managed to piece together an URL for Elizabeth's blog feed and try it out... I now have some evidence her blog may have been taken over by a spammer. But I still don't know what's what for sure and thus I'm still concerned, so again if anyone knows anything...

(Apologies, Steve, for the unorthodox use of your comments area, but I didn't know what else to do and figured it's worth a shot just to try to find out something.)

Rational Thinking said...

Steve - sorry to hear about the health stuff - thinking of you and sending best wishes.

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you for all your good wishes. I'll provide more details when i feel the time is right. For now, I'm mostly trying not to tempt fate.

Jenny said...

I've also been checking SHAMblog for updates and glad you spoke up, RevRon. I've also not heard anything from or about Elizabeth. Sending many good thoughts your way, Steve. Looking forward to hearing more from you when you're ready.

My best to you all.

Cal said...

Hi Steve,

I want to echo the previous sentiments about best wishes in dealing with your health issues.

I was looking forward to any comment you might have had about the problems that have surfaced at Penn State and Syracuse University, in the sense the specific athletic program for each school in the news was exemplified as a model program to be emulated.

But that is hopefully a subject to be discussed for another time.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal, thanks for dropping by. My main short-term problem right now is regaining my once-considerable typing skills, which took something of a hit during my recent event. I don't want to say much more than that right now, but I probably don't have to, either; you can read between the lines.

I do hope to post again, on the Penn State situation and other matters. I hope to do lots of things again. And don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm in terible, hopeless shape, medically (or at least not that they tell me); it's just that i'm rattled, and somewhat daunted by the statistical odds. We shall see.

Rational Thinking said...

Steve - take your time - voice-activated software might help. As for the stats, remember Mark Twain: 'Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable'.