Daily Archives: May 2, 2014

Deal Book Embraces Unintentional Self-Parody

By William K. Black

I have been attempting the vain act of trying to embarrass the New York Times’ Deal Book feature into dropping its ethics-free reportage of elite financial crimes.  I have had so little success that today’s James Stewart column reached the pinnacle of unintentional self-parody of Deal Book’s zealous efforts to remove any concept of ethics from its reportage of elite white-collar crime.  The substance of piece is reporting that Steve Jobs “was a walking antitrust violation.”  Stewart focuses on the cartel Jobs formed with other giant firms to fix (and suppress) employees’ salaries.

But the title of the piece takes the fact that Jobs was a serial felon who caused great harm to employees and preforms a remarkable transformation in which he is praised as “Steve Jobs, a Genius at Pushing Boundaries.”  “Pushing boundaries” is Deal Book’s euphemism for Jobs’ crimes that he committed in order to make the already spectacularly wealthy CEO even wealthier – at the direct expense of his employees.  And, this being Deal Book, and James Stewart being what Stewart has descended to, we have the inevitable claim that Jobs was a “genius” at crime.  But it turns out that if you consider the facts reported; he wasn’t a genius.  His violations of anti-trust law were obvious crimes.  Instead, his key characteristic was the one we always emphasize is critical about the most fraudulent CEOs – audacity.  Jobs had gotten away with committing so many crimes that he came to believe he was immune from prosecution.

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A Fallacy of Composition

By J.D. Alt

The commentary on one my recent posts included the following statement: “It’s a fallacy of composition to imagine that what we can’t afford individually is affordable collectively.”

I cannot get this sentence out of my mind. It seems to pinpoint a central cognitive dissonance that enshrouds our thinking about money. The common-sense logic of the phrase seems to say, at first glance, that if each citizen of a nation cannot afford to pay for, say, a road from village A to village B, then collectively they cannot afford to pay for it either. However, if they pooled their money, with each citizen putting in a little bit, it seems clear they might be able to collectively cover the cost. So the person who wrote the comment cannot have intended to mean what, at first glance, the sentence seems to say. They must have meant something deeper.

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