Slate on the moral bell curve

March 31, 2008

Meet the super-rich, the dysfunctional class threatening American values. – By Daniel Gross – Slate Magazine

In the underclass, unmarried, young fathers don’t take responsibility for their children. In the overclass, twice-married, middle-aged Wall Street daddies don’t own up to the consequences of their insane financial miscues. Wall Street titans are almost incapable of seeing the problem with taking nine-figure payouts in years in which their stocks plummet. “There’s just a total disconnect between the compensation and the responsibility for their actions,” says William Cohan, a former Lazard banker turned author.In his book The Age of Abundance, libertarian author Brink Lindsey boils down the difference between the desperately poor and the blissfully rich to an ability to focus on the long term. “Members of the underclass operate within such narrow time horizons and circles of trust that their lives are plagued by chronic chaos and dysfunction,” he says. By contrast, elites are well-organized long-term thinkers. Riiiiight. “Modern Wall Street is a system,” says Charles Morris—a former Chase banker and author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown—”that rewards crazy risk-taking in the short term without regard for the long-term consequences.”

I can never get enough of articles which point out the similarities between welfare and corporate welfare  (the abuse of either of which leads to decline in our actual welfare.) Still, this Slate piece dropped the ball by restricting the moral failings of the overclass to their financial crimes against humanity. After all, “twice-married, middle-aged Wall Street [mommies and] daddies” rarely manage to do right by their children and society frequently bears the burden for their family dysfunction as well as their fiscal impropriety. (Even in the best case scenario, their offspring generally end up perpetuating their species. That’s bad enough.)

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