Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Man Bites Man

Caption: New Zealand native Been with two of his adopted children.

Image credit: Colin Smith/Nelson Mail

While reading Naked Capitalism yesterday, this old quote of Mark Twain's came to mind:

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

Mark Twain Quotations

I encountered this quote about Been, the dog from New Zealand who survived being left for dead, amongst all the stories of malfeasance by Goldman Sachs, and the governments that are trying to recover from what Goldman Sachs and others have done to the world's economy:

A dog who survived being shot in the head three times has fully recovered, and now spends much of his time playing doting dad to a litter of kittens.

When Been was found, he was 10 kilograms [more than 20 pounds] underweight, but now the mongrel weighs a healthy 27kg [60 lbs.] and enjoys tending to four kittens who are being bottle-fed after being rejected by their mother.

After the three-week-old kittens are fed, Been licks them clean. If they are not locked up at night, he picks them up and puts them in his basket.

Gentle Been Pays It Forward

Dogs are social creatures who have, through millenia of selective breeding, partly lost their instinct to fear and hunt other species. They are among the most generous creatures on the planet. You could say that animals like Been are generous to other creatures because their social instinct is to bond with and protect each other. That is probably true, but the fact remains that it's a rare dog who makes himself important by destroying the lives of others. In that regard, dogs are way ahead of these humans:

A lawsuit filed against investment bank Goldman Sachs by a shareholder alleges that the company spent more money on corporate bonuses than it earned in 2008.

Shareholder Ken Brown's lawsuit is one of two suits filed against the company this week over its controversial decision to hand out billions of dollars in bonuses even after it was accused of playing a central role in the financial collapse of 2008 and receiving $10 billion in direct aid from the US government.

Lawsuit: Goldman Sachs Bonuses Bigger Than Its Earnings

Don't forget that TARP is just the tip of the financial iceberg. U.S. taxpayers are still on the hook for trillions of dollars in financial guarantees that were designed to keep banks and large financial firms like GS from failing.

Not only did these people ransack their own company, they ruined our economy, and then screwed up Europe's. If I understand this story correctly, they screwed their own customers, too. The White House seems to have no interest in punishing this behavior, perhaps because they've hired GS executives as economic advisers. The Securities and Exchange Commission's too little, too late response has been played up by the press, who spent much of the last decade largely ignoring this malfeasance. Both houses of Congress seem equally uninterested in preventing future repeats of the 2008 disaster that these people caused. The Other Guys are even less interested in regulating this out-of-control industry. Neither party is willing to part with the kind of money these people can pour into their campaigns.

I'm sure these people are all pleased with themselves. GS and its competitors are awash in cash they didn't earn. The White House and the Congress are clearly happy to let this state of affairs continue, since being the ones that the financial lobby panders to allows them to convince themselves that they are in charge. At the risk of bursting a bubble that would dwarf our housing prices, I have news for them.

There's a dog in New Zealand who's worth more than all of them put together.

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