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Banks, Fraud & Looting + Ideology Over Reality

Program #BLAW001-FRAT003.

First Program: William Black - Banks, Fraud & Looting

Bankers brought the world's economy to the brink of collapse and then as the Occupy slogan says, “We got sold out, they got bailed out.” In many ways Goldman Sachs, one of the largest and most important investment banks, epitomizes all that is wrong with the economic system. Its CEO modestly announced that they were doing “God's work.” There was a big brouhaha when Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, quit the firm with a blistering New York Times op-ed. Smith, said it had become “morally bankrupt” and he decried the "toxic and destructive" environment at the bank that put profits ahead of ethics. "It makes me ill,” he said, how callously people [at the bank] talk about ripping their clients off. I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as muppets."

Second Program: Thomas Frank - Ideology Over Reality

Ideology is a set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political and economic system. It can evolve in strange ways to the point where evidence and facts are not only irrelevant but are treated with scorn and derision. In its distorted form, its followers adopt rigid fundamentalist positions. Anyone who challenges the groupthink is a heretic, a non-believer. In the United States for example, the dominant narrative is that its foreign policy is altruistic and based on good intentions. When things go wrong, it's the people we are trying to help, like those ungrateful Afghans, who mess things up. Domestically the so-called free market takes on near theological trappings. Reality is replaced by fantasies. In parts of U.S. political culture one can see these tendencies on display. It's weird and dangerous.


Speaker(s):

William Black

William Black is Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and senior deputy chief counsel of the Office of Thrift Supervision. He is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. 

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