Sunday, March 11, 2012

Psycho Street

Copyright © 2011 The New Yorker

This might help explain the behavior of many people on Wall Street: according to CFA magazine and author Sherree DeCovny, one in ten people on Wall Street is a psycho.

Psycho is a strong word, although people misuse and overuse it. But according to the opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal Sunday from March 4, 2012, writer Al Lewis talked to one ex-Wall Streeter (who refers to himself as a psychopath; takes one to know one, I guess) who says one in ten is too low. For Wall Street, according to Sam Antar, former chief financial officer of the infamous Crazy Eddie, an electronics firm engaged in stock fraud in the '90s, the number is more like eight out of ten. Wow, that's pretty amazing—or depressing, as the case may be—to think that the money in our retirement and investment portfolios is being managed by the same types of guys who, given a deadly weapon rather than a ledger book, could be Jeffrey Dahmer.

Psychopaths and sociopaths are those people who have no conscience. They're the ones who, when going after what they want, don't mind stepping on people, or even crushing them. They sleep just fine because they don't see other people as being human.

Perhaps all the wealth of this country was built by people without consciences. Perhaps all of the wealth in the world was built by the same psychos who sit on top of huge piles of cash on Wall Street. Can it really be that simple?

Copyright © 1953, 2012 The New Yorker

The Ronald Reagan trickle-down theory is right in one respect, the madness trickles down from those who have acquired the wealth by hook or crook, to those politicians who apologize for or protect them.

In a way knowing this makes me feel better about myself. I've never cared much about money beyond meeting my basic needs.* I don't have an all-consuming desire to accumulate riches. I've always wondered what it was in me that lacked that drive to get more $. I don't dislike rich people if they seem otherwise decent, but I've always looked at those with great power (i.e., money) as being an alien species, fascinating, but I wouldn't want to hobnob with them. Their values are just so different from mine. Now I know why. They're psychos and I'm not!

Maybe Wall Street is just one big mental hospital.

*Plus my HDTV and my high-speed Internet and my Netflix account, not thought of as luxuries but necessities (by me, anyway). As long as I'm going to live at or just below the poverty line, I might as well entertain myself.


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