Monday, February 11, 2008

‘Rogue Traders’ or Business As Usual?

From the World Socialist Party of the United States website:

The case of the ‘Rogue’ French Bank trader, Jerome Kerviel, underscores many observations about capitalism made by socialists.

Most importantly, it shows how “social” capitalism has become. The more capitalism grows, the more connected we are to the actions of everyone else. If the accusations are true, one minor 31 year old French bank trader can cause the potential impoverishment of many. We are all tied together, and capitalist rugged individualism is an illusion. the scary fact is that while capitalism has bound us to each other, it is anti-social in it’s structure.

This case also shows how capitalism’s operates as a big crap game. The trader purportedly lost 4.9 Billion Euros in unauthorized gambles on future stock and bond prices. Evidently he lost badly. But again, as stated above., capitalism is social even if it is structured anti-socially. So while this ‘rogue’ trader does his job by placing society’s wealth on the gambling table. Since it’s anti-social certain folks - workers - loose every time, win or lose. As the hobo folksinger Utah Phillips said in his lament on the gentrification of Denver’s skid road:


My bookie joint closed when your cops pulled a raid,
But you built a new hall for the stock market trade.

Finally, we’ll observe the role of “justice” in capitalism. Scapegoat or no, the young French trader who lost Billions in wealth will likely face 3 to 5 years in prison. This sentence is similar to those in the US. But compare it to the black man in California who received a life sentence for stealing a slice of pizza. Or the case of the Native American elder who served 18 months of a 5 year prison term for selling 300 salmon. He was sentenced the same month as American ‘junk bond’ trader Michael Milliken who served 22 months on a 10 year term for 1 Billion Dollars in fraud.

Utah Phillips again sums up the issue:


Now I’m finding out there’s just one kind of war -
It’s the one going on ‘tween the rich and the poor;
I don’t know a lot about what you’d call class,
But the upper and middle can all kiss my ass.

FN Brill

I'm Getting Tired Of This

From the Marx and Coca-Cola blog:


Another one of those kinds of stories. From The Old Grey Lady:


"A North Dakota manufacturer has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a suit saying it had repeatedly shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including those for the first troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan."

And I bet they will never see another government contract.


"Twelve days before the settlement with the Justice Department was announced, the company, Sioux Manufacturing of Fort Totten, was given a new contract of up to $74 million to make more armor for helmets to replace the old ones, which were made from the late 1980s to last year."

Of course. Rip off the taxpayers. Endanger people's lives. Walk away with a net of 72 million. Sounds about right. But no one should worry:


"Sioux upgraded its looms in 2006, company executives say, and the government says it has started inspections at the plant.

Of course, it was the looms' fault. Fucking looms. And the government does such a good job inspecting industries that I'm sure this will never happen again. No one knows how many troops were killed or injured (lots of troops have come back with traumatic brain injuries) because of this, and I bet 74 million dollars the Pentagon won't do an investigation to find out.


The right-wingers always like to talk about how the government should be run like a business. The free-market is the best way to deliver goods and services. Capitalism regulates itself. Blah blah blah. The truth is that when making money is more important than the actual product, corners will be cut, and quality will suffer. And sometimes people's safety will be sacrificed (actually like a lot of the time).

On a side note, Sioux Manufacturing is owned by the Spirit Lake Nation, a Native American tribe. Native Americans serve in the armed forces at disproportionate high rates. Greed doesn't have any loyalties.


JM