The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
The Boomer Establishment Sinks Deeper Into Failure and Shame

The American corporate establishment is reeling today at the news that the government is bringing criminal charges against Rajat K. Gupta, for many years the head of the most trusted name in corporate consulting.  According to the government, Gupta passed insider secrets to the systematically dishonest Raj Rajaratnam, the disgraced and convicted former head of a major hedge fund.  McKinsey, the consulting firm Gupta led, is privy to the most sensitive information in American corporate life, and its reputation for discretion and integrity is the core of its business.  It is hard to imagine a more damaging development to the reputation of the firm.  It is not just that its head may have committed crimes that undermine everything the firm stands for; it is that those around him were so blind, so naive and so easily fooled that the self described master strategists of business look like gullible nitwits.  Physician, heal thyself; if McKinsey can’t keep its own top staff from undermining the company’s core mission, how can it help you manage yours?

The problem goes well beyond McKinsey.  If the government proves its case, it will demonstrate that the American establishment has lost its ability to discern character and demand integrity.  Gupta not only rose to the head of a firm that depends on reliability and discretion; he advised the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and served on the boards of directors of some of the biggest names in American business.

That a criminal could win the trust of so many of the ‘best and the brightest’ in philanthropy and business chillingly demonstrates the moral and intellectual vacuum in the corporate world.  Years of excessive payment for executives, okayed by go along to get along boards of directors, a culture of entitlement and a lack of personal character and strong moral codes have created a dead zone at the core of American life.

Economic bubbles generally involve more a confusion of financial values.  Long periods of easy money and boom times corrupt and confuse moral values as well.  The slick deal maker and the influence peddler get ahead; “liar loans” and the liars who make them pass for solid investments.  People accept tinsel for silver and gilt for gold.  Wealth passes for virtue; the serious man is taken for a fool.

The New York Times offers an explanation for why Gupta (allegedly) went over the edge:

Though he had an enviable résumé and earned millions of dollars a year at McKinsey, Mr. Gupta became fixated on the extraordinary wealth showered on hedge fund managers and private equity chiefs, according to trial testimony. Consultants are well paid, but the compensation pales in comparison to those Wall Street titans.

Envy and avarice, no doubt mixed with pride: if the charges hold up Mr. Gupta will have wrecked his life, shamed his family, caused serious harm to those who trusted him and gave him their confidence just because being filthy rich wasn’t enough for him.  He had to be richer still. A man who had everything chose to ruin it all.

McKinsey’s leadership and many other well placed people in American life have some thinking to do, some changes to make, and some humble pie to eat.  The populist rebellion against elites and establishments will acquire more momentum from Gupta’s fall; the emperor not only has no clothes, many people will conclude — he is also trying to steal ours.  The Boomer Establishment continues to bury itself in failure and shame.

Published on October 26, 2011 9:50 am
  • dearieme

    A friend once told me that in his view the only answer was to appoint stern presbyterians to all such posts. I asked whether this sort of religious discrimination would be legal. He replied that it wouldn’t be religious discrimination: for all he cared they could be atheists. As long as they were presbyterian atheists!

  • Mike M.

    I’m a strong believer in capitalism and the free market, but there is no question at this point that nearly lethal doses of the deadly toxin greed have seeped deep into the body of our republic.

    We have apparently forgotten what George Washington and Ben Franklin understood: our way of life can only maintain itself if the people are virtuous. Whether the old-fashioned virtues can be reinstilled in time to save the nation and who will do it remains an open question.

  • Richard F. Miller

    Like Mike M above, I am also a strong–very strong–believer in capitalism and free markets.

    However, I also am a very strong believer in one form of government regulation–the strongest, most efficacious regulation imaginable. It is the one form of regulation that is guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of the avaricious. Significantly, it’s the one type of regulation that our decadent system so far has refused to apply.

    I mean vigorous criminal prosecutions, applied early and often, without plea bargains and with perp walks aplenty; I mean maximum sentences “handed out like candy;” I mean criminal prosecutions aimed not just at culpable CEOs but boards of directors and executive committees that were aware of the actions but did nothing.

    I also mean large fines that the government will relentlessly collect without regard to how many of the perps’ wives and children are bankrupted.

    You want to revive “honor” and reinstitute “shame?” Can do, Dr. Mead. Set up a dozen Thomas Deweys, or Rudolph Giulianis–they might not have made ideal presidential candidates, but they sure knew how to clean filthy houses–and within three years, you’ll have “Wall Street” talking loudly of honor without us having to count our spoons.

    Regulatory schemes can be captured by industry, their violations paid off in civil fines or confidential agreements. But criminal convictions and jail time? As real as a heart attack.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    Amen to all the above.

  • glenn

    Or like Dad used to say: “First you have to have honest people”

    Or

    “If you are going to steal something go into politics and steal a country. Then yo get statues in parks instead of going to jail.”

  • http://metanoodle.blogspot.com Ken Moore

    Amen to that amen. Honor instead of having to count the spoons. More civilization and a lower price for government.

  • Jay

    Sadly, you cannot legislate morality. The rot starts in our social values, and our education by the state.

  • James Felix

    “I’m a strong believer in capitalism and the free market, but there is no question at this point that nearly lethal doses of the deadly toxin greed have seeped deep into the body of our republic.”

    Your comment implies that greed is somehow a byproduct of capitalism, but it most assuredly is not. Greed is part of human nature and it always will be. In ANY political-economic system there will be amoral and greedy people waiting to exploit others for their own gain (cf. the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea et al). It just so happens that capitalism, relying as it does on the liberty of its participants, is the system best able to minimize the damage such people do.

  • James Felix

    “I mean vigorous criminal prosecutions, applied early and often, without plea bargains and with perp walks aplenty; ”

    I’m in general agreement with your post, with this one exception. I think “perp walks” are unseemly and inappropriate as they happen BEFORE a person has even been tried for a crime, let alone convicted. Subjecting people to public shame and ridicule when they’re supposed to have the presumption of innocence is a bad policy.

  • Yali

    I read a while ago something interesting about a firm that actively sought to hire former US military officers as managers. I believe it was in the wake of Enron, Worldcom or some other mind-boggling instance of venality, malfeasance and financial legerdemain.

    The spokesman said that if we could staff all top companies exclusively with former military officers, we’d be unlikely to see scandals like that ever again since the character of these men and women is so profound and their moral compass so strong.

    I would temper that a bit with the caveat that many of these temptations are unique and no one’s behavior is 100% predictable, but the military men and women I’ve met so far pretty much confirm this notion.

  • DORF

    Spank the child…

  • Mrs. Davis

    That a criminal could win the trust of so many of the ‘best and the brightest’ in philanthropy and business chillingly demonstrates the moral and intellectual vacuum in the corporate world.

    This is so wrong. What this demonstrates is how the moral vacuum of the religious and educational world with which we have had to cope for the last 50 years has finally spread to the corporate. Gupta is not a criminal who lives a life of crime, any more than the rest of the best and the brightest, but a weak man in the moral morass that the western world has become. To change things will require a Josiah to return us to a belief in right and wrong, and judgementalism about those who do wrong.

    And it goes far beyond corporate propriety. No-fault divorce, on-demand abortion, state-sponsored gambling, and more are all reflections of the moral nihilism that afinfect the every day lives of the common person. Until we find a sufficient replacement for the imperfect nad long gone WASP establishment to create a dominant culture that deals effectively with human weakness we will compassionately stumble with increasing frequency from one tolerable human failure to another.

    Harsh words. But it’s returning to a harsh world after our half century free ride. Presbyterians? Not from the PCUSA!

  • Tex Taylor

    [Sadly, you cannot legislate morality.]

    True, but you can legislate against immorality.

    Send these thieves to shared cells with the general prison population, accompanied with orange jump suits, for about 20 years, and let’s see if we don’t get an immediate and overdue attitude adjustment.

    I believe we would.

  • Rob Crawford

    How does high pay contribute to a decline in ethics? You skipped more than a few steps there — show your work.

  • Truth

    American Boomers = the worst, most irresponsible, immoral, and unconscious generation of human beings to ever walk the earth.

  • PTL

    In Switzerland you are unlikely to be elected
    to high office, nor run a large corporation,
    unless you served in the military (women excepted). Same is true in Israel.

  • Russ

    Look on the bright side. Franklin himself was as crooked as a three-dollar bill, his support for the Revolution mostly based on the failure of his own cause, an attempt to engineer a particularly shady (and shoddy) land-grab.

    So throw ‘em in jail and don’t sweat the reduction in morals — hypocrites in high places have always been with us, and always will.

  • tomw

    I am still of the opinion that the various retirement funds that hold such disproportionate shares of publicly traded companies that individual share holders votes are impotent, are not held to task for their fiduciary duty to their pensioners. They routinely vote for the ‘suggested’ board opinion, regularly re-appoint the same auditors who ignore the same skeletons-in-the-closet they have ignored for decades {see ENRON}, and approve compensation packages that would embarrass an honest man.
    CALPERS holds so much corporate stock they could dictate almost everything boards of directors decide, but they don’t. They just go-along to get-along. They, along with all the other ‘government’ investors, have failed in their fiduciary duty.
    tom

  • joel

    I believe the quote is:
    Steal a loaf of bread and they call you “thief!”
    Steal a crown and they call you “king!”

  • KarenT

    This kind of behavior is absolutely predictable in all sorts of organizations and civilizations as a culture of bureaucracy disconnected from reality morphs into a culture of aristocratic entitlement disconnected from reality. It would be even worse if government controlled more of our money. Fannie and Freddie, for example, are exempt from many of the laws and regulations which are supposed to keep corporate culture honest. The natural consequence of this type of behavior would be the downfall of the organizations in question. “Too big to fail” kicks the culture of corruption up to the federal level.

  • T

    As to the mention of “greed” above, keep in mind that while greed tempts us to be dishonest, it is that same greed which inspires us to work hard and, in the process, provide something of value. It’s a double edged sword.

    Further, Dr. Mead hits the nail on the head in an unnoticed sen frag above, “. . . go along to get along boards of directors . . . .” Boards of Directors exist to safeguard against exactly this. They have, however become so inbred, that many of them can no longer perform their oversight. This, IMO, is where the solution to the problem must begin because, as noted above, you can’t legislate the morality of the CEO.

  • Nilsonian

    A South Asian friend once told me that Americans need to understand the importance of pedigree in Hindu character: a person whose ancestors were judges and scholars could be trusted; someone whose family were small merchants–perhaps not so much.
    There is no equivalent for a scholarship student who goes to an Ivy League school and is honorary upper middle class as a graduate.

  • Collin

    We need to get past the concept that if you pay a fine you are properly punished. There are obvious moral issues with this idea that lead to the splitting of Christianity.

    I don’t think the government should be levying fines. If it is serious enough for them to be involved then incarceration is the answer, not bribes by another name. Same goes for all other violations and torts. If a doctor screws up a patient negligently, a huge payoff by an insurance company to the victim is not the answer. Everyone pays for this in the end with higher medical bills, and the doctor continues on as if nothing happened. If it was serious enough to enrich a lawyer at our expense someone needs to be in jail.

    As it is now the legal profession has set up a system where if you hire the best lawyers you can get out of pretty much any crime as long as it doesn’t catch the public eye. If you want to deal with rot in the moral/criminal code you first need to deal with a legal system that turns justice into a get what you paid for it system.

  • Duncan Frissell

    Malum Prohibitum not Malum in Se. Not a Common Law crime or anything you can go to Hell for. Breach of trust by an employee. Civil matter.

  • crypticguise

    We now have several generations of Americans who “cheat” to get ahead – in school, in college and in business.

    This didn’t begin yesterday.

  • Deeg

    Those of you who are happy to have the government put people in jail, go after wives and children, have clearly never been on the receiving end of a federal probe. I have a client who did nothing wrong (legally, ethically), but got trapped by a massive judgment due to a district court error in reading the law. There is no repreive pending appeal; in the meantime, the federal government has demanded a copy of every single check he and his wife have ever written for 7 years; subpoenaed his banks, accountant, daughter, wife; looked at mortgage loan applications; deposed him about all of his assets…and for what? No added value, just slow, griding persecution of him for years, and a likely bankruptcy filing. In no sane world would this happen to an honest person, and yet, it does.

    Just remember, the same people deciding who to prosecute are part of the same class that raided the Gibson Guitar company for not properly finishing wood in India. They do not work by or for “the people”, but for their paymasters up the bureaucratic chain and their own self-interest.

  • Jay

    “When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, ‘Who is destroying the world?’ You are.

    Ayn Rand

  • mthorn10

    “You can’t legislate morality.”

    What?? What is law but a codification of morality? A particular law may not reflect your morality, or even the morality of the general citizenry, but it is most certainly someone’s morality.

    Don’t buy into the post-modern dribble.

  • Vader

    You cannot have a thriving free market without regulation. Those who mistake this for a contradiction understand neither free markets nor regulation.

    I prefer that the regulations be simple, clear, few, and vigorously enforced. There must be no question where the line is, so that mens rea can resume its proper place in our criminal law, and honest men are protected from unwittingly becoming felons.

    This will make the real felons stand out for shame all the better.

  • Conserve Liberty

    We have forgotten the virtue of self restraint, the key word being self.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    Help me here:

    One can’t legislate morality. But, again, there are moral codes involving social approbation, shame and dishonor (a point that the formidably pro-free-market early- to mid-Victorians understood and applied, partic. in the wake of an era of fantastic and mounting licentiousness, roughly 1714-1837; and, despite a kind of shift in emphasis c. 1870, the late Victorians MAY have learned certain lessons even better).

    What our elders grasped was the necessity of SELF- as well as OTHER-restraint. Checks and balances are important. But if typically ALL that restrains my vice, in a given public situation, is the vice of some other jerk, then it seems to me a pretty sure bet that life on the whole is going to get fairly jerky and vicious everywhere. And the future of this increasingly unruly infant will be, as likely as not, on the doorstep of some dictatorship (corny metaphor, I know – best I could come up with). We need to get past crude caricatures of Machiavelli and Madison, and find out what these gentlemen (not to mention, e.g., Adam Smith, Washington, Franklin, Jay, Burke, etc) REALLY THOUGHT about public virtue. And why.

    “As to the mention of ‘greed’ above, keep in mind that while greed tempts us to be dishonest, it is that same greed which inspires us to work hard and, in the process, provide something of value. It’s a double edged sword.”

    May I say, if greed is literally ALL that inspires us to work hard and provide something of value, then maybe we as a species are in a far bigger jam than ANY of us could ever handle. Or even make sense of.

  • Astro

    Wait, what? Who, or what the hell is the ‘Boomer Establishment’? Who established these people as the ‘Boomer Establishment’? At the risk of sounding like some of the whiny boomers I detest: I demand a recount!

  • Due Process

    Professor Mead,

    You should not refer to Mr. Gupta as a “criminal” until he is deemed guilty after a trial.

  • Mark

    2 things from this post jumped out at me. “According to the government,” and “If the government proves its case,”. Looking at this from a partisan political perspective, being able to convict a prominent “Wall Street” figure on charges stemming from greed fits the current progressive Democrat MO pretty well. Hold on folks. No one has been convicted of anything, yet. I think I will wait a while to pass judgment on this.

  • T

    J R Yankovic,

    In my statement regarding greed, I use the term in the broadest possible sense. We tend not to call this “greed,” but motivation, inspiration, etc. It is, however, the same thing. It’s the desire to better ourselves and our station in life (economically, intellectually, etc.). It’s the tactical side that distinguishes between the two. Do you work hard, i.e., “motivation and industriousness”, or lie,cheat and steal, i.e. “greed,” to achieve those ends?

  • Stephen

    There will be those who argue that this epitomizes crony capitalism and will point to the obvious dangers this entails with and expanding government sector. We’re talking about people who are gaming a system largely the creation of government. So, of course this runs a bit counter to those on this site already calling for vigorous enforcement of regulatory laws by means of criminal prosecution.

    These are all proximate to the ultimate cause the good professor points to: the moral vacuity of our present culture, society, and the generational elite currently overseeing it all. He presents an alternative of naivete and stupidity knowing full well that those he’s named are neither naive nor stupid. However, one should not expect more of society’s elite than the greater part of our society expects of itself; that, would be naive.

  • gmcinva

    I have read many of Dr. Mead’s columns with interest, but this one seems to be quite out of character. IF Mr. Gupta is convicted of a crime there will be plenty of time for approbation. IF that occurs, Mr. Gupta should be rightly punished – to the limit of the law. In the meantime, the over the top condemnation of a generation of people – even the apparently reviled establishment appears to be a bit overwrought. During my business career I worked with McKinsey Consultants on many occasions and found them to be honorable and discreet, if over priced. Perhaps we might withhold judgment until a trial is held, and a verdict rendered.

  • Kris

    Of relevance to the discussion on morality: Lord Moulton’s short disquisition [PDF] on Laws and Manners.

  • Jeff from Michigan

    You can point to one specific instance where the moral compass started spinning wildly. That is the aquittal of Bill Clinton who DID OBSTRUCT JUSTICE (but that is only for little people). When the Senate Republicans refused to do their constitutional duty and have a serious trial that gave the signal to other people in powerful positions that the green light was on. (Except for the military under the watchful eye of Barbara Boxer).

    Look at the events in the two years after the trial. Enron started cooking the books, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac direction to back sub prime loans, Terry McAullifie’s sweeeeeetttt Verizon deal. Jefferson’s cash in the refrigerator. I could go on and on.

    And the irony of it all is, if they had done their jobs Al Gore would be president and the progressive branch would have gotten their dreamed of carbon tax.

  • Steve C.

    To those who take pleasure in trashing the baby boom generation (and yes I’m a member):

    Just who do you think is leading the air wings, battle groups, brigades and battalions deployed overseas? Men and women born in the 50s and 60s. Men and women who chose a career of service to their nation at a time in our history when military service was derided as being the choice of losers and ne’er do wells.

    Not all of us were wearing power ties in the 1980s. Some of us were digging M60 tanks out of hip deep mud at Hoehenfels or puling security on the DMZ. Even more of us were opening businesses or working to improve quality and cost at US corporations when everyone told us that the Japanese were going to dominate the world.

  • Rabel

    Rob Crawford asked “How does high pay contribute to a decline in ethics?”

    Rob, I wouldn’t steal ten thousand dollars even if I was 99% sure I could get away with it. Ten million dollars and I would give it some thought.

    Susceptibility to greed is relative to the reward and the rewards at the higher end of the corporate world have become irresistable to many.

  • Whiskey Tango

    “In Switzerland you are unlikely to be elected
    to high office, nor run a large corporation,
    unless you served in the military (women excepted). Same is true in Israel.” –PTL

    Largely true in the USA as well until the 1970′s, when the boomer reaction to the draft and the Vietnam war made military service seem stupid or shameful rather than honorable.

    But be careful about assuming Mr. Gupta’s guilt before trial. He has been charged with a crime which he plausibly might have committed, but he has not been convicted.

    When formerly respected bigwigs are arrested in Putin’s Russia, we wonder what they did to annoy Putin. Perhaps Mr. Gupta is actually innocent, but has annoyed … someone.

  • Jaytee

    The spokesman said that if we could staff all top companies exclusively with former military officers, we’d be unlikely to see scandals like that ever again since the character of these men and women is so profound and their moral compass so strong.

    Tell that to war hero and inmate “Duke” Cunningham. I’m afraid no profession is immune to greed.

  • Mark

    Whatever does this have to do with being a boomer? Boomers are more prone to envy than generations before and after them? Nonsense! The rest of the piece is well-reasoned and informative, so why throw in a completely unsubstantiated, undocumented claim like that?

  • Mark

    “American Boomers = the worst, most irresponsible, immoral, and unconscious generation of human beings to ever walk the earth.”

    - Funny, but I would have picked the generation that spawned Hitler, Stalin and Mao… That aside, not sure what the upbringing and education in India of one executive and who migrated here in ~1971 has to do with a generation half a world away. I’m all for trying to discern patterns and stuff, but this throwaway comment, and the text (and meaningless title) that instigated it, are completely unsupported. As foolish as saying that Steve Jobs demonstrates the greatness of the boomers.

  • James Bradley

    Criminal prosecution of poor business judgment will only tend to drive out more capable people. There is enough criminalization (and prosecution) of human action already.

    Washington, Franklin, et al. understood human nature and human motivation – and that this greed thing is an unremovable part of them (greed is really just an exhibited survival instinct probably due to winter in the high latitudes and dry seasons in the lower latitudes and just a trait we should strive to control but can never rub out). That is why they established competitive institutions all – to allow that each interest could express itself and pull the result to some sort of middle. Not perfect, but better than trusting autocrats and their chancellors and exchequers and viceroys and ministers to do the job well. The problem we have is that that the competition has been lost and we have a one-way ratcheting governmental enterprise that resembles the courts and ministries of Europe’s kings of old (and the tinpot copycats then and now), including the one that Englishmen revolted against in creating the United States of America.

    Let us consider that the demise of this man and the institution are the just desserts – if these results indeed do happen – but government need not pile on. Let us also consider the delusion that such a thing as “insider trading” can be prevented, effectively stopped or even controlled by government. Let us consider whether it would not be better to allow insiders to act freely while others observe their behavior. Those that can keep secrets would rise to the top rather quickly. As things stand with the trappings of securities law and regulation that do little to protect folks but make it look so, government only creates a false sense of security and thereby a new vulnerability while enriching lawyers and accountants.

    Finally, let us keep our wits. “Capitalism and free markets” are fancy terms to describe persons engaging in voluntary exchanges. Those that denigrate these things (including by qualifying their support) are unhappy with the voluntary part of this, are they not? If so, they then support coercive exchanges.

  • Jeremy Skog

    After my Ph.D. program I interviewed with many finance and consulting firms. The only employer who ever asked me about my ability to handle confidential data was the Federal Government.

  • mike innc

    I used to give Starburst candies to my Sunday School class.
    As expected, there would be an extra one or two after dividing the Starbursts. No matter how I chose who got the extras, those not getting them would complain. Somehow, it was not fair.
    “But you came in with no Starbursts and leave with three. Why do you care that some have four?”
    It was not fair.
    You can never have enough if you compare yourself with those who have more. Guaranteed unhappiness, probably deeply ingrained in our monkey brains.
    There is no hope without a moral compass. So in a land of abortion on demand, no prayer in school and banning God from anything public, do not be surprised when the successful are empty of character.
    America is doomed. Wishing it was better won’t help. Just feel so damn bad that my children are growing up in a country they will need to leave to have more economic freedom.

  • Marty

    I don’t see why anyone would be surprised, our ruling elites in government, business, labor, the media and academia are probably the most corrupt and depraved elements of society, lacking even the honor that one drug gang might show another.

    And if you actually think that the other bigs at McKinsey didn’t know what was going on, you’re a naif.

    And if you think this one case is the entirety of it, doubly so.

    It’s all corrupt, they all lie all the time, it’s all about spin and taking whatever one can get away with. The crooks outnumber the decent ones by at least 20:1.

    Just keep that in mind when you look at the news each day, and it all makes sense. Pretend they are moral citizens with integrity, and none of it makes sense. QED.

  • Luke Lea

    Also worth reading, Steve Sailer’s post on the topic:

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2011/10/diversity.html

  • Jim.

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    – John Adams

    Thrash around all you like with temporal punishments, fines, and attempts to impose “shame” on the inherently shameless. All you will do is turn our legal system into a secular theocracy, with greed-hunts replacing witch-hunts. Secular presbyterians would be not be better than their Scripturally-based counterparts. In fact, without the redemption preached in the Gospels, they would be far, far worse.

    The only thing that will save this country is another Revival — where that revival means work on the inside of individuals, en masse. Government can get out of the way, but it cannot dictate.

    If it tries, it is simply valiant dust that builds on dust, who guarding, calls not God to guard.

    People need to recognize that this problem of morality cannot be solved by government. Giving government enough power to clean this house would make it an atrocity. What we need is the Church — which in America has never been a C of E type centralized organization, but an ad hoc collection of voluntary organizations who foster piety towards God, transforming individual lives and moral outlooks, and incidentally (but importantly!) locally reinforcing moral codes in ways that in less decadent times were taken for granted.

    “Honor” is replaced by Buzz. “Duty” is all but dead. “Compassion”, instead of inspiring generosity in those with enough to give and gratitude in those who receive, inspires entitlement in the surprisingly prosperous “have-nots” and extortion of the “haves”. Our moral compass must be based on Scripture, and Boomers have replaced book-burning with book-burying. The Multicult has reduced the moral signal-to-noise ratio to the point that no meaningful message can be heard.

    Boomers don’t want to hear it. They have done such a solid job defaming, slandering, and libeling the Church in America that most GenXer’s don’t even know what they need to hear, and if they heard it, they would do nothing but issue a knee-jerk condemnation of it. Go along to get along, after all.

    If you throw people like Gupta in jail, where will you find more morally sensitive to replace them? These are people with power we’re talking about; we’ve already seen them turn the secular Democrats from crusaders into conspirators.

    We need a more moral type of candidate, and that will only happen if the pool we draw from gets more moral. That won’t happen without Revival.

  • Luke Lea

    @Russ – “Look on the bright side. Franklin himself was as crooked as a three-dollar bill, his support for the Revolution mostly based on the failure of his own cause, an attempt to engineer a particularly shady (and shoddy) land-grab.”

    I had heard that too and thought there might be something to it — until I read Walter Isaacson’s outstanding biography of Franklin, whom I now regard as an essentially honest man, not a saint certainly, but one whose integrity is substantially intact.

    Washington’s attempt to influence the English invasion route to Pittsburgh during the French and Indian wars, on the other hand, now that is an episode that won’t bear close examination. See Freeman’s seven-volume life for the details. (BTW, it takes seven volumes to establish Washington’s two outstanding characteristics, which were physical stamina and (despite the forgoing episode, which was anomalous) his Character as they used to call it.)

  • T

    As to the related posts above (# 21,#31, #35), I also offer this explication of “greed” (aka inequality) by Richard Epstein:

    http://pointsandfigures.com/2011/10/27/the-one-video-you-need-to-watch-today/

  • Otis McWrong

    Truth @15: “American Boomers = the worst, most irresponsible, immoral, and unconscious generation of human beings to ever walk the earth.” – perhaps a bit of an overstatement but if even partly true, it raises the question of how their parents could be “The Greatest Generation”.

    Nilsonian at 22: “A South Asian friend once told me that Americans need to understand the importance of pedigree in Hindu character:” – I disagree. If I move to a Hindu country I will certainly make quite an effort. But I live here. In the US…a country my England and Scotland dwelling ancestors moved before our Revolution. Long before the “huddled masses” nonsense and Ted “last seen at the drunk-driving checkpoint on the Road Into Hell” Kennedy’s disastrous Immigration Act of 1965. Why do I need to understand arcane Hindu cultural tidbits?

  • Kavanna

    Leges sine moribus vanae: Franklin made that the motto of the school he helped to found, the University of Pennsylvania.

    What Mead says about the confusion that credit bubbles — and their attendant extreme leverage, extreme profits, and extreme risk — create hits some nail on the head. Bubbles, like ordinary inflation, create arbitrary winners and losers, throwing everyone’s sense of values askew. Bubbles are more insidious, because the losses and losers don’t come out until the end, and the political classes that create the bubbles will move heaven and earth to prevent a final resolution.

    Someone once half-jokingly proposed a “financial scandal” index to register surges in the discovery of such crimes. Such surges are usually good “sell” signals — for certain stocks, the whole stock market, and maybe the whole system.

  • JasonM

    Don’t forget, “Hey, I’ve been oppressed by racist white people, so it’s understandable, even sympathetic, that I would resent The Man and The System, and look out for number one here.”

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2011/10/diversity.html
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/10/23/exclusive-raj-rajaratnam-reveals-why-he-didn-t-take-a-plea.html

  • richard40

    There is plenty of corruption in the corporate world, but it is dwarfed by corruption in government. As for throwing them all in jail, I have one caution. Our regulatory system is now so corrupt that people can be jailed or run out of business for extremely trivial offenses, witness Gibson Guitar, nearly run out of business because they finished their wood in the US instead of India.

  • http://sites.google.com/site/lukelea2/thesoftpath Luke Lea

    OT? Well, maybe, but you decide. It’s about ths comment I made recently on the subject of sociopathy and the role it plays in all this (posted over at hbd* chick’s little blog):

    “If you want to learn about sociopathy a letter from one is a good place to start. There is also a website for and by sociopaths, SocioPathWorld. “Sharks in Suits” is supposed to be good, but the title says it all.

    I think we also need to take another long, hard look at the role of joint-stock limited-liablility for-profit corporations in a liberal democracy.

    Such organization are sociopathic entities by their very constitution (they literally can’t help it given the rules of the game) and are too often manned by CEO’s who are themselves sociopathic. It can be a lethal combination. If you’ve watched “The Smartest Guys in the Room” about Enron you will see what I mean.

    Historically corporations have always been viewed with suspicion. In the beginning they were royally chartered entities given certain monopoly privileges for a limited number of years (in return for certain “considerations” shall we say).

    Even the first corporations in America were viewed with suspicion. I think our Founding Fathers made some searching observations about them. Unfortunately in its wisdom our elected officials have decided states and not just the federal government has the authority to issue such charters, with predictable results: the fewer the limitations the more charters you write!

    One of the saddest delusions is the notion of share-holder interests, the idea that top management acts in the interests of its shareholders instead of its own. This is the so-called problem of agency and has no obvious solution. CEO’s appoint their boards of directors, composed mostly of other CEO’s (on whose boards they themselves often sit), making a good old boys network of back-scratchers who get to set their own compensation!

    Not sure what the answer is but, as Dylan sang, somebody needs to investigate soon!”

  • Luke Lea

    Concerning that latter from a sociopath* I linked to above, notice the natural tendency to predation, the never-ending search for vulnerable victims. This is a constant refrain with such types.

    I hear there’s a Darwinian explanation in terms of balanced selection, but whatever it is there are obvious problems in large, impersonal, mass societies in which individuals no longer have “reputations” to guard.

    * I think “sociopath” is much more descriptive than “psychopath” in these cases that involve wholesale targeting of people and groups.

  • Kepi

    The boomers love holding their sacred cows. They live by them, they wish us to flounder by them, and they would as soon die as live in a world without them. If you do not accept them as gospel they will pretty much black list you in any way they can.

    This is exactly why America is failing. There are so many sacred cows just lying around things that “Oh my God, we can’t change!” Unfortunately, we’re going to have to change some of the most fundamental of these sacred cows in order to progress. My only hope is that these intellectually stunted power mongers don’t try to hold off much needed change in the near future.

  • David R. Graham

    Effetes, not elites. An effete corps of rent-seeking, power-junkie intellectual snobs, to coin a phrase or two.