When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

23 February 2009

Losers must die in full view

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is about to get some advice from an unexpected quarter... Sudhir Venkatesh's retired gangsta friends from Chicago:
Mr. Secretary, let’s face it: you need real experts, those who have felt the consequences associated with moral hazards, those who have found out that mistakes in markets mean no skin in the game (or no skin at all, for that matter).


[The Thugz] have agreed to return to the couch and channel their wisdom for the benefit of the country. By the way, you should know that they are big fans of your work at the New York Fed. Most of them fared nicely in the late 1990’s by catering to the growing white-collar workforce who demanded cocaine, escorts, sexual services, etc. Of course, since most of these customers worked in the financial services industry, my boys feel like they owe you a solid.


The unanimous opinion among The Thugz was that you must base your work around a time-tested law of ghetto capitalism: losers must die in full view. What? This doesn’t make sense. O.K., well, let me explain. Your first mistake (more accurately, your predecessor’s error) was to mix the bad apples (banks) with the good (banks). By doing so, you forgot what makes capitalism so much fun: winners win at the losers’ expense, and everyone gets to watch and laugh. Sort of like public hangings, except reported on the financial pages. Otherwise, why read The Wall Street Journal?

The moral is: don’t ever take the joy of death away from the public. Because if you don’t see losers in pain, you begin to think the game is rigged. And we all know the game is fair, open, and transparent … yes?
A Letter from the Thugz (Sudhir Venkatesh, writing at the Freakonomics Blog)

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