Quote of the Day: Profiting From the Misery of Millions

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Like all right-thinking people, Felix Salmon is aghast at the austerity measures being implemented in Europe. After all, austerity won’t help during a liquidity crisis, which means that in addition to hurting ordinary citizens, “it will harm the fat-cat bankers, too.” But then he goes a bit beyond even right-thinking conventional wisdom:

But here’s the cunning bit: the bankers don’t really have their banks’ best interests at heart. They just want to keep on getting their coupon payments until this year’s bonuses are paid. And then, once those bonus checks are cashed, they’ll start trying to get next year’s bonus payment, too.

The bankers and technocrats know full well that the longer they manage to kick the can down the road, the worse it’ll be for everybody in the long run. But in the short run, they get very wealthy. Even as crucial government services are cut to the bone, and the risk of major social unrest increases greatly.

Are they really that cynical? Maybe so. Are they consciously that cynical? I’d guess probably not. Man is a rationalizing animal, after all. As Upton Sinclair famously said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” And bankers have mighty big salaries.

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