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Piranesi, thou shouldst be living at this hour

By Owen Paine on Tuesday February 3, 2009 04:07 PM

There I was, reading a column by the New Yorker's James Sourkraut, about who precisely oughta be afraid of the big bad wolf called moral hazard -- and it's just rolling along in the usual commonplace fashion when this pops up:

"The moral-hazard argument -- assumes that the most important factor shaping corporate decisions is the interest of the company as a whole. But, more often, what’s shaping those decisions is the interest of individuals.... The fact that people can reap enormous [personal] rewards... is likely to lead to [more] reckless behavior, regardless of whether companies are bailed out or not.... Even if we allow Citigroup to fail... Chuck Prince, the former C.E.O., will still have walked away with a package reportedly worth more than seventy million dollars."
So what else can we do, then?

Well, for starters, these Chucky Prince critters, prolly already planning their next scamarama, can be rounded up, branded on the forehead, and slung into a detention center. That's what.

Possible site? I suggest inside the 9/11 crater, right there in lower Manhattan. I'm thinking of maybe a system of all-glass cages, suspended from a pair of gleeming steel trade-tower sized armatures, Calderesque fashion. You know, let the fuckers twist up there in the trade winds, so to speak. Glitter and rattle away like obscene chimes day and night. Inside each cage a financial Houdini, all of 'em gyre-ing about like a flock of secular Simeon Styliteses.

If we were to consult a good constitutional scholar on this, I'll bet my trust fund we'll be told the power to do such noble deeds rests comfortably within the scope of our federal House of Representatives.

I can see it now: la Nan sets up a special task force "to investigate the Wall Street debacle," Pujo Committee style. You know, one of those "never again" type scrambles.

A viciously seductive she-cat is appointed to head up the staff of crack investigators -- think Vishinsky in a tank top:

Provisional lists are drawn -- long and grossly unfair lists -- regrettably, in the frenzy to mete out a higher justice, very few innocent assholes with even a remote connection to "the Street" are spared.

Much too much is leaked to the press before a wave of belated decency arrives, and the list is winnowed from tens of thousands to it's final "minimalist" tally of three hundred putrid souls.

Of course, these despicable, finally-named fiends -- many of them at any rate -- will take flight, but just as often they'll be apprehended, Ninja style -- plucked like wood lice from their places of betrayed hiding.

Some, alas, will die along the way -- manhunts are like that -- a few will be fired apon while fleeing -- others will doubtless die by their own hand -- hopefully, in a few totally unsavory cases, prior to giving their testimony before the sub committee.

Let's pray there will be secret waterboarding, and that full truths will be extracted, and these egregious toads will each tell their heinous tale in full

The reduce the stories to boilerplate -- carefully and scrupulously scripted boilerplate, needless to say. Every phrase inspired by real actual interogation notes. I imagine this oughta be the work of a team of the finest writers known to the DNC.

And then there's the recitations themselves. Feature this: the bastards themselves -- battered, unshaven, beltless, stumbling and mumbling and staring vacantly about them -- each moaning out his own individual story, all in a weird lock step.

Why comrades, the effect will be a miracle -- a billion viewers gasping, fuming, gnashing, weeping; a hardcore 50 million drunk with an unquenchable rage will storm the nearest ATM machine and -- there's enough potential zip zap here -- to begin the world anew!

Comments (3)

Al Schumann:

Maybe the people with fire insurance don't want to be burned to death in their own homes?! Maybe they want to keep them, and keep the effort they've put into them, intact?

He could have a picked a worse analogy, but I think it was very clever to have come so close to your solution, Owen. These arsonists need the auto da fe for the sake of their immortal souls, unsalvageable though they may be. It would be hateful to deny them the chance. In a sense, denying them is conducive to moral hazard. The real stuff, a failure of society and a stain on every escutcheon.

Those who can be helped, must be helped!


I see that the New Yorker, touchy-feely in all of its other departments, understands that economics is too important to be left up to the musings of some gushy lib. Hence Jim Sourkraut, politely diminishing the readerships good-willed expectations, making us see the justice in injustice.


Owen.. This is beautiful, just beautiful... The image of the Masters of the Universe twisting in their glass cages brings joy to my heart.

I might suggest we change the code to "Rahm" though? Or certainly "Petraus."

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