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“Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?”

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Luigi Zingales, who teaches at the University of Chicago’s business school, had an op-ed in Bloomberg provocatively titled “Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?” He argues that business schools are “partly to blame” for the decline in ethical standards in the business world, and urges that ethics not be taught as a separate course by lightweight profs, but integrated into all courses.

This piece is so backwards I don’t quite know where to begin. It’s telling that it blames former McKinsey partner, now convicted insider traders Rajat Gupta’s and Anil Kumar’s crimes on the failure get ethical training in business school. I’m not making this up: “Where did Gupta, Kumar and others get the idea that this kind of behavior might be OK? Most business schools do offer ethics classes” but contends they are unserious. No other possible explanation is explored. Gee, they both went to the Indian Institute of Technology. Why isn’t their education at a more formative stage under scrutiny as well?

Mind you, I’m not saying business schools deserve a free pass. Far from it. But business schools are a combination of finishing school and employment agency. They live in, and my sense is they are lagging indicators of broad cultural shifts in norms. In case Zingales has missed it, American elites are openly corrupt. You can see it with the revolving doors between regulators and top industry jobs, the way CEOs and top politicians tell astonishing lies whenever they are in trouble,the weird combination of precision on inconsequential details versus the carefully coached combinations of misleading but not untruthful answers and “I don’t recall” when you sure as hell know they do remember, the way the press is so thick with propaganda that it takes an Enigma machine to pull out any real messages. So with those role models, why should we expect business school graduates to be paragons of virtue? The are aspiring Masters of the Universe. They are smart enough to see what the real game is, and the message conveyed by the business press and who rises to the top in large organizations today is far more powerful than any lecture, no matter how well or frequently delivered.

Admittedly, it is hard to parse out the role of self-selection versus education versus social norms. The people who go to business school are ambitious, want to make a lot of money but not big risk-takers (despite the macho talk). They’ve almost certainly taken economics as undergraduates; most probably majored in it. Lab experiments have established that economists are more selfish than non-economists; the question remains whether selfish people go into economics or whether economics training makes people greedier. And, ironically, some papers that try to argue that economics education is not to blame come off as being so autistic that they come close to proving the critics’ case (they simply won’t consider fairly well documented finding, for instance, that altruism lights up the pleasure centers of the brain).

The focus on business schools conveniently turns reader attention from the way social values have been reengineered through a wide array of channels: advertising, films, lectures at work, even ceremonies and celebrations. The efforts to portray patriotism as being aligned with commerce goes back to before 1910. The more recent full bore push to depict markets as virtuous, and by implication, superior to other forms of association and organization, and to weaken communities (particular labor organizations) goes back to the 1970s. The more people see themselves as atomized, the less cooperation makes sense. As people internalize these values, it becomes more and more likely that they’ll be willing to act in a ruthless, even criminal manner, if they can get away with it. And those pressures become intensified if you have high income disparity and high levels of unemployment. The difference between winning and losing is large. In societies like Australia, if you lose a fancy post, you won’t lose your friends. I can tell you from personal experience the reverse is true in the US. You’d be astonished at how many people drop you, either because you are no longer of any use to them, or they like to go out to places where dinner costs $100 and that’s no longer in your budget, and they aren’t keen about slumming to accommodate you.

Mathbabe gave a vivid depiction:

Most of the quants at D.E. Shaw were immigrant men. In fact I was the only woman quant when I joined, and there were quite a few quants, maybe 50, and I was also one of the only Americans. What nearly all these men had in common was a kind of constant, nervous hunger, almost like a daily fear that they wouldn’t have enough to eat…

But here’s the thing, that fear was real to him. It was that earnest, heartfelt anxiety that convinced me that I was really different from these guys. The difference was that, firstly, they were acting as if a famine was imminent, and they’d need to scrounge up food or starve to death, and secondly, that only their nuclear family was worth saving. This is where I really lost them. I mean, I get the idea of acts of desperation to survive, but I don’t get how you choose who to save and who to let die. However, it was this kind of us-against-them mentality that prevailed and informed the approach to making money.

Once you understand the mentality, it’s easier to understand the “dumb money” phrase. It simply means, we are smarter than those idiots, let’s use our intelligence to anticipate dumb peoples’ trades and take their money. It is our right as intelligent, imminently starving people to do this.

Now you might say this is a a special case, these aren’t American, they are furriners. But you are missing the bigger point. Why did DE Shaw seem to prefer immigrant quants? This is a hedge fund that paid Larry Summers millions to do squat. It’s pretty certain they weren’t hiring immigrant mathematicians because they were cheap.

A lot of employers in finance and business look for “hunger” and the version mathbabe described, the desperate fear, is particularly attractive. So to be competitive, job seekers have to at least credibly feign that sort of predatory aggression. And to keep their job, they have to operate in that manner. So the flaw of Zingales’ argument is that the students are responding to the character attributes sought in many of the most prestigious employers. And given how much it costs to go to school these days, business school students and many college students can’t afford not to be mercenary.

The larger manifestations of this hungry behavior in the midst of abundance are undermining the foundations of commerce and the rule of law. Every week we see new evidence of rampant fraud, as well as continuing unwillingness of banks and other large companies to sacrifice a little bit of profit to do the right thing (Exhibit Number One is the refusal of mortgage servicers to do principal mods). As trust weakens, the cost of commerce rises: more time on due diligence, more extensive and elaborate negotiations and contracts, more litigation. And the resulting uncertainty will deter some customers from using certain services and products (this is not theoretical; quite a few readers have said they would not buy a house using a mortgages because servicers can abuse them and it’s well nigh impossible to get recourse).

Animals in social species seem to have a hard wired sense of fairness. While members often use ruses and deception, others will punish cheaters, even when it involves effort and risk with no apparent gain. So as depressing as current conditions are, many may assume that rather than have our culture continue to progress along Ferengist lines, the pendulum will swing the other way, just as the McCarthy era was followed by the 1960s. But extreme stress conditions can produce a complete breakdown in social structures. A warning from Joseph Tainter’s Collapse:

The Ik are a people of northern Uganda who live at what must surely be the extreme of deprivation and disaster. A largely hunting and gathering people who have in recent times practiced some crop planting, the Ik are not classifiable as a complex society in the sense of Chapter 2. They are, nonetheless, a morbidly fascinating case of collapse in which a former, low level of social complexity has essentially disappeared. Due to drought and disruption by national boundaries of the traditional cycle of movement, the Ik live in such a food- and water-scarce environment that there is absolutely no advantage to reciprocity and social sharing. The Ik, in consequence, display almost nothing of what could be considered societal organization. They are so highly fragmented that most activities, especially subsistence, are pursued individually. Each Ik will spend days or weeks on his or her own, searching for food and water. Sharing is virtually nonexistent. Two siblings or other kin can live side-by-side, one dying of starvation and the other well nourished, without the latter giving the slightest assistance to the other. The family as a social unit has become dysfunctional. Even conjugal pairs don’t form a cooperative unit except for a few specific purposes. Their motivation for marriage or cohabitation is that one person can’t build a house alone. The members of a conjugal pair forage alone, and do not share food. Indeed, their foraging is so independent that if both members happen to be at their residence together it is by accident.

Each conjugal compound is stockaded against the others. Several compounds together form a village, but this is a largely meaningless occurrence. Villages have no political functions or organization, not even a central meeting place.

Children are minimally cared for by their mothers until age three, and then are put out to fend for themselves. This separation is absolute. By age three they are expected to find their own food and shelter, and those that survive do provide for themselves. Children band into age-sets for protection, since adults will steal a child’s food whenever possible. No food sharing occurs within an age-set. Groups of children will forage in agricultural fields, which scares off birds and baboons. This is often given as the reason for having children.

Although little is known about how the Ik got to their present situation, there are some indications of former organizational patterns. They possess clan names, although today these have no structural significance. They live in villages, but these no longer have any political meaning. The traditional authority structure of family, lineage, and clan leaders has been progressively weakened. It appears that a former level of organization has simply been abandoned by the Ik as unprofitable and unsuitable in their present distress (Turnbull 1978)…

Faced with such an array of imposing problems, and constantly bombarded with media attention to these and other dilemmas, people are naturally concerned. For reasons that are more or less rational, a respectable segment of the population of Western industrial societies fears that one or several of these factors will bring a breakdown and a new dark age. Only a veneer of complexity lies between us and the primordial chaos, it is thought, the Hobbesian war-of-all-against-all. A considerable level of political activity results from such fears, and both national priorities and international policies are to a significant degree influenced by this popular concern. Some people store food or dig fallout shelters, in expectation of the failure of a political process to resolve the situation. Others go to greater lengths, stockpiling weapons and conducting paramilitary training, even engaging in military games, in anticipation of the day when the ghost of Hobbes emerges, when we are all reduced to the conditions of the Ik.

The irony, of course, is that while the misery of the Ik is a rare outcome, the fear of it reduces cooperation and thus makes that type of result more likely.

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106 comments

  1. skippy

    In juxtaposition…

    It’s not like I can talk to my neighbor about this stuff…

    Simon Black on May 29, 2012

    http://www.sovereignman.com/expat/its-not-like-i-can-talk-to-my-neighbor-about-this-stuff/

    —————-

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-it%E2%80%99s-not-i-can-talk-my-neighbor-about-stuff%E2%80%A6

    Sorry for ZH link but, I think it highlights the reverse of your position and the sovereign man – Randian trope.

    Skippy… the comments on ZH are indicative of their descent into – non functional members – of any society.

    1. skippy

      Excerpt:

      All of this sounds shocking to westerners.

      Of course, the west exudes a mentality that is at the opposite end of the spectrum: ‘shared sacrifice’ simply by accident of birth.

      Westerners are brainwashed into believing that they have an obligation to someone who shares the same color passport… someone who happened to be born within the set of invisible lines that comprise our arbitrary political boundaries.

      We’re told that we have a civic responsibility to finance spiraling government deficits, buy more bombs, and pay off other people’s mortgages… regardless of whether or not we share a common ideology, philosophy, or moral code.

      Skippy… at the bottom of the barrel and the cream on top… the ingredients are the same… selfishness… before all other considerations. Yet if you poke them, they CRY and CRY… My liberty’s!!!

    2. Philip Pilkington

      That ZH post is one of the strangest things I’ve read in a long time. Those guys are sort of like the obscene underbelly of the contemporary financial markets. While the latter say one thing and do the opposite, the ZH crowd and their ilk take substantial pleasure in acting like anti-social ape creatures. I guess the gag is that the ZH schtick doesn’t fair well in the real world. People just think that you’re socially illiterate and, perhaps, trying to insult them through some sort of obscene, surrealist mimicry…

      1. Capo Regime

        The post recounts the same content as the one here. What is telling is of course the comments. I suppose NC and ZH have different demographics. The way of these poor devils does of course highlight were we are capable of going. After all America does lead in Child abuse and the production of exploitative porn, murder and drug use. Its plausible that the U.S. is one fractal event from delving further into a lord of the flies, African savanah cicumstance. For some reason on a factual matter I think you owe me a beer philip at the Temple.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          I don’t think so. I think if you read between the lines ZH are actually endorsing go-it-alone, kill-the-poor garbage. And what’s more, I think they pretty much constantly do this. When they talk about “forming networks” they’re talking about networks of Gold Bug elites who will fight off the masses of zombie-like sheeple that they fear will try to steal their dubloons after the hypercrash that is supposedly on the way.

          1. Capo Regime

            Oh yes, I do see that. Thanks. Perhaps a nice exposition of the apocalyptic orientation of many americans. End of the world if things change rather than say imagining a poorer country with many more social problems. The Road Warrior type thing is quite appealing in many quarters–I think at heart the ZH types and many others harbor apocalyptic scenarios where they get to use their guns to kill people and or their gold to have some feeling of power.

          2. Philip Pilkington

            Indeed. For those who cannot face reality, fantasy awaits. Mad Max is simply more exciting than the prospect of sitting in your underpants with a box of cereal worrying about your retirement and healthcare plan.

          3. casino implosion

            They’ve made their dubloons as free riders and parasites, gaming and manipulating a system that at bottom works on trust and consent. Their exaggerated fantasies of a hobbsian fight for survival against the vengeful masses reflect a guilty & defensive conscience. Not guilty in the sense of “what we did was wrong”, but rather in the sense of “we got rich by pushing the system to the breaking point”.

          4. Philip Pilkington

            I reckon that the ZH crowd don’t work at big banks. They strike me as retail traders. I.e. They downloaded a trading program. I’d say most of them get gamed by the system far more often than they successfully game it…

      2. enouf

        I don’t know man … how many comments of the ZH article did you read? Plus, i really have no idea what the point/purpose of the original post was trying to be/make — *a few* commentors though (here and there, way down thread, like; http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-it%E2%80%99s-not-i-can-talk-my-neighbor-about-stuff%E2%80%A6 ) whilst theoretical and fanciful at best and unrealistic at worst atleast interject a fundamental and principled foundation for their stance.

        Don’t you think all (most) discourse should start from some *agreed upon* “foundational” principles/axioms/precepts?

        If yes, but you think perhaps the *jump* into hysteria and ludicrousness (which i find, is a great tool of the propagandists!) is a distraction at best, and purposeful at worst — why pay any attention to it? Why not separate the wheat from the chaff? Why not thresh out the so-called ‘gems’?

        If no, then would you atleast agree the DEFINITIONS of the words we use be defined!? (even if it means in the *context* of said statement(s) ..) I truly believe everyone needs to slow down – absorb what’s being said (by whomever), and have the speaker offer a Pre-Definition *list* of their “definitions” they use — oh wait F**%(I((^&!!! …Lawyers and Media already do that!.. dang

        Love

        1. enouf

          enouf says:
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          July 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm

          whoa .. i must be a real “threat” .. (and this message is happening more and more as of late)

          Love

          1. Up the Ante

            Yes, and you are hereby re-directed to a site called ‘MyNakedCapitalism’.

            You will not note the difference.

            lol

            The re-direct was initiated by the CIA, and has since been transferred to a select group of FBI agents, preferably agents who have spent some time stationed at U.S. nuclear plants.

            Operation ‘Found Out’

            lol

    3. Walter Wit Man

      That is a remarkable Zero Hedge post. I’ve noticed other similar ideological rants recently . . . which I assume is party because of the dialogue on Naked Capitalism between these different ideological groups.

      I’ve gotten much more conspiratorial than I once was and I find the prevalence of this ideology on blogs to be no accident. I think the potential ‘resistance’ to our fascist overlords is being divided between left and right and this post hits on the main difference between these groups. The number of people one sees on Yahoo, for instance, promoting a monetarist Austrian pov, is largely the result of 30 years of propaganda.

      Of course I think they rig these websites to make it seem like this pov is predominant, when I’m not so sure this is the case.

      Btw, I now think Ron Paul is not sincere, for instance (whereas I once admired what I thought was his sincerity). Ron Paul is a gatekeeper like Dennis Kucinich.

    4. JP Shannon

      Business schools like Chicago and Harvard and Yale and Kellogg may incubate criminals but governments allow their graduates to prosper and steal in societies that refuse to stop them either through effective laws or Tax Policy.
      Two kinds of people – those who steal and those who are stolen from. The 99% create all wealth and the 99% continue to allow themselves to be robbed blind! The corruption has overtaken all governments world wide – and that is clearly no secret.
      http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/07/scandal-after-scandal-lie-upon-lie-whats-going-on/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29
      Corruption is the Defining Quality of the Worlds governments and economic activity. The cause is obvious to anyone who can think – Greed – the root of all evil!
      A TRUTH we all ignore because we are too brainwashed or afraid or so called powerless to eliminate at its source. Justice for “WE THE PEOPLE” can only happen if we eliminate the cause of our collective suffering!
      Governments world wide have been hijacked by CentaMillionaire$ and Billionaire$ – malignant narcissists aka psychopaths who lack empathy and have no conscience. Unfix-able and unstoppable especially when they attain vast wealth.
      To level the playing field and eliminate the corrupting power of wealth controlled by these sick greedy amoral evildoers,”WE THE PEOPLE” (aka government) need to TAX ALL WEALTH OUT OF EXISTANCE! If you make or have more than $10,000,00o the government (aka the little people who don’t make or have $10,000,ooo) takes it all – a 100% tax rate eliminating greedy psychopaths – world wide. Those sick enough to ever attain that lofty level of wealth, will not be allowed to use even that wealth for buying politicians and judges running for election because all elections will be state sponsored and financed by WE THE PEOPLE – from our taxes.
      If being a Decamillionaire can not satisfy the Narcissistic greed of sick sociopaths, then I suggest they stick a gun in their mouths, pull the trigger and end the suffering they are causing humanity. Finally a real justice, WE THE PEOPLE clearly have a right and moral obligation to imposed on them.
      If you want to see corruption of government end – then this is our / “We the People” only hope.
      “How to Think” if you can handle the truth!
      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_to_think_20120709/
      Let it Begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/do-business-schools-incubate-criminals.html#leMwSoXW31WzLREW.99

  2. Conscience of a Conservative

    The answer on why criminality invades business culture is rather simple. The uncaught criminal has a business advantage and the tempation to take this advantage is only nullified by the fear of getting caught and facing jail time. When government stops procesuting and going after crimes it sends a message that there’s no penalty further tipping the scale toward transgression and the result is more business people engaging in criminal misconduct. Most business people start out honest, a few are hard core honest regardless of environment, but when the cop stops walking the beat you’ll always end up wiht more criminals.

    1. ambrit

      Dear CoC;
      What’s interesting here is why the culture has shifted in this direction. Secondly, who benefits most from a breakdown in civil society? Just thinking…

      1. Conscience of a Conservative

        Not sure:
        A couple of thoughts:
        1) Captured regulators, Sec vs Judge Rakoff
        2) We see Eric Holder more interested in persuing Arizona illegal alien issue and the upcoming voter registration issue
        and not prosecuting Bank fraud, or MF Global

        when prosecutions are done they are either politically motivated or the kind that we can all “feel good about” e.g. the Wall Street Madam. The A.G. himself seems to be sending a message.

        1. Capo Regime

          Don’t forget going after pro athletes for doping. Of course the whole financial edifice is built on doping…

          1. Conscience of a Conservative

            Sports and doping is my favorite. It provides politicians the opportunity to hold hearings and meet their favorite celbs in person.

      1. JEHR

        If the justice system doesn’t have the means to put all the fraudsters in jail, then they could just prosecute all the CEOs and CFOs under Sarbannes-Oxley. That would get everyone’s attention!

  3. ambrit

    Maam;
    Having spent many of my formative years in a highly status conscious community, Miami Beach Florida, I can all too well appreciate the endless game playing you describe as occuring in some of your previous social relationships. Such behaviour is the exact opposite of the much lauded ‘rugged individualism.’ As the saying goes, “Hard times will show you who your real friends are.”

    1. Capo Regime

      Interesting. a lot of people like posting abut Gary, Detroit and Camden as the future of the U.S. I think places like South Florida are the really bleak future of the U.S. Shabby, superficial, credit driven, low tech surface retail and leasure driven subistence economy. Hard to explain but I think Vegas and Miami are totally hideous places and spending time in them will enable you to better understand the bleak plastic furture of the U.S.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Capo Regime;
        True for today. As a kid, South Florida in the sixties was a neat place to be. Now, what with Miami being the largest city in Cuba, (sorry New Jersey,) and the paternalistic culture and politics of the real Deep South (America that is,) holding sway there, it’s kind of reassuring to know that the whole place will be below sea level in a century.

  4. Sufferin' Succotash

    “…the press is so thick with propaganda that it takes an Enigma machine to pull out any real messages.”

    Enigma was the German enciphering machine. The Brit machine that broke Enigma’s enciphered messages was called the Colossus, or sometimes the Bletchley Bomb. This was under the program called Ultra.
    Sorry for the history teacher’s conditioned reflex…

    1. alex

      Adding pedantry to the pedantry:

      It’s bombe (with an ‘e’), and that was used to crack the enigma ciphers. Colossus was used to crack the much more difficult Lorenz cipher.

  5. timotheus

    For the record, there have been angry rebuttals of all the negative ethnography on the Ik, including some by members of the group itself. But as a metaphor for the rest of us bipeds, it is entirely credible.

    1. Warren Celli

      Quoted from Tainters collapse; “Although little is known about how the Ik got to their present situation, there are some indications of former organizational patterns. They possess clan names, although today these have no structural significance. They live in villages, but these no longer have any political meaning. The traditional authority structure of family, lineage, and clan leaders has been progressively weakened. It appears that a former level of organization has simply been abandoned by the Ik as unprofitable and unsuitable in their present distress (Turnbull 1978)”

      From Wicki;

      “Criticism of Turnbull’s work
      While highly popular, the book was controversial, and the accuracy and methodology of Turnbull’s work has been questioned. (Turnbull himself does mention his sources’ uncooperative nature and tendency to lie). For example, Bernd Heine gives the following examples to support his claims that Turnbull’s conclusions and methodology were flawed.[4]
      There is evidence that Turnbull had limited knowledge of Ik language and tradition—and virtually no knowledge of the flora and fauna of the region. He seems to have misrepresented the Ik by describing them as traditionally hunters and gatherers forced by circumstance to become farmers, when there is ample linguistic and cultural evidence that the Ik were farmers long before they were displaced from their hunting grounds after the formation of Kidepo National Park—the event that Turnbull claims forced the Ik to become farmers.
      Some of Turnbull’s main informants were not Ik, but Diding’a people. Lomeja, a local who helped teach Turnbull the Ik dialect, was undoubtedly Diding’a, and according to informants of linguist Bernd Heine (who studied the Ik in early 1983) spoke only broken Ik. Moreover, three out of the six villages Turnbull studied were headed by non-Ik people.
      Turnbull’s claim that Ik raided cattle and frequently did “a double deal” by selling information concerning the raid to the victims is not corroborated by the Dodoth County Chief’s monthly reports, as well as records of the Administrator in Moroto between 1963 and 1969. Rather, these files and reports actually suggest that the largest number of cattle raids occurred in parts of Dodoth County where no mention of Ik raiding livestock can be found in any of these documents.
      Turnbull’s claims that adultery was common among the Ik is contrary to statements of informants interviewed by Bernd Heine in 1983. They reported that during the two years Turnbull stayed in Pirre there was only one case of adultery. Heine writes: “All Ik elders interviewed stated that there are no indications whatsoever in the oral traditions to suggest that adulterers were burnt in the past.” (Although Turnbull’s work itself expressed doubt as to the veracity of his source’s claims to that effect.)
      Heine adds, “…Turnbull’s account of Ik culture turned out to be at variance with most observations we made — to the extent that at times I was under the impression that I was dealing with an entirely different people.”
      Turnbull also argued that Ik society was already destroyed and all that could be done was to save individual tribal members. Consequently Turnbull advocated to the Ugandan government forcible relocation of random tribal members (with no more than ten people in any relocated group).[5]”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ik_people

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. Warren Celli

        Further…

        “Forced Complicity Crimeunism”

        The whole global culture incubates criminals!

        We are ruled by aberrant morally diseased Xtrevilist global criminals and forced into complicity with them by virtue of the fact that they control our means of production and our allocation of resources — what we will produce and with what — and they therefore control our crumb supply and us. We have no say in the direction of our societal alliances.

        It is called “Forced Complicity Crimeunism”, and yes, it instills fear and anxiety, and many other anti social behaviors.

        The Ik live in poor conditions because their society was uprooted when ‘privatization’ took their land for a national park.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I skimmed the criticism (this was the middle of the night).

      The controversy seemed to be primarily about how judgmental Turnbull was in describing the Ik, not in the accuracy of the facts on their actual behaviors. The Tainter section was one of several I saw on one site that were chosen to show a contrast.

    3. craazyman

      Yeah it didn’t pass my sniff test.

      I bet he made most of it up or somebody was putting him on for a little comic relief, “Yeah, big gringo dude, those Ik, they cook their children over an open fire and copulate with hippos in the mud. Husbands and wive hit fight other with rhino horns and break bones for fun. Stay away from them or you’ll be dinner. haha. They’ll cook your eyes and feed their kids with em.”

      Children put to fend for themselves at the age of 3? I mean what?

      I know 40 year olds who can’t fend for themselves. I can barely fend for myself.

      this is looney tune stuff. Jungle boogie is weird, but not this weird. I smell a con.

  6. James

    It took me less than one semester of my MBA “seminar” to figure out the whole scam: getting an MBA was primarily about learning the lingo. Like any secret society worth it’s name, MBAs protect their brand by speaking in code. The language of pure verbose, grandiose business school bullshit.

    When I came to work for my current employer (a finer collection of over-educated idiots I could never have imagined!) after retiring from the USAF, the very first thing I noticed was how many “processes” were dysfunctional due to a single, usually trivial factor. Being an expert MS Excel spreadsheet designer and programmer, I found that I could fix many of them in a matter of minutes with, what for me, were very minor tweaks or solutions. No problem! But, after getting my you know what stomped on more than a few times I quickly learned why it was that nobody else had even tried before me. It was institutional policy to first propose and present a “business proposal” (problem, solution, savings or efficiencies gained) for approval, form a “yellow belt team” to study and document the problem, then “roll out” a solution to the sound of heavenly trumpets. In other words: goat f*** it to death. Having viewed (and attempted to fix) many previous failed so-called “solutions,” I quickly learned my lesson and dutifully fell back into line. Now I create and use my own solutions for my own small circle of colleagues and customers, and religiously avoid interacting with my parent organization altogether. And everyday in every way I try to forget the inane bullshit programming that my MBA “experience” tried to impart.

    1. James

      I guess I failed to deliver the “money line” above.
      Do business schools produce and deliver criminals for delivery? Of course they do, especially from the east coast, old school Ivy League professional criminal incubators. But what are they really good for out here in vast intellectual waste land of “real” America? Producing over educated idiots who now suffer from the life long delusion of intelligence, never mind competence, simply because they can tack on a few letters behind their name. Every time I come across an email with the signature block “John Doe, MBA” I hit the delete key as fast as my aging fingers will respond and give it not another single thought.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘… especially from the east coast, old school Ivy League professional criminal incubators.’

        James adds an important corollary, which enlarges the focus on ethical degeneracy in business to include politics.

        Since 1989 when Poppy Bush took office, the U.S. has experienced nearly a quarter century of uninterrupted rule by Yale and Harvard graduates. By the time Harvard-grad Robamney finishes his coming four-year term, it will be 27 years of Ivy League rule.

        When my son was accepted to Yale, I strongly (and successfully) urged him to decline. Not because of any doubts about Yale’s pedagogical quality, which is excellent. Rather, because of the undesirable legacy admissions in the student body that he would have been rubbing shoulders with.

        Fortunately, our family avoided being contaminated with the sociopathic values of the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas and Romneys.

        Though I must admit, since it’s summertime, that I’m rereading Bill Clinton’s classic self-help tract, How To Become a Gigolo. At your service, ladies!

        1. MontanaMaven

          Yes, my hat is off to you too. But even back in the 1960s, the great Staughton Lynd, then assistant professor of history at Yale, called the bullcrap of the military academic complex and became a war opponent. From Susan Jacoby’s excellent book “The Age of American Unreason she quotes Lynd the sociopaths at Yale and Harvard.

          I am employed at Yale University, the institution which produced the architect of the Bay of Pigs, Richard Bissell; the author of Plan Six for Vietnam, W.E. Rostow[special assistants to presidents Kennedy and Johnson]; and that unagonized reapparaiser, McGeorge Bundy[also a hawkish aid to both Kennedy and Johnson]…I think I know something about the Ivy League training which these unelected experts receive: a training in snobbishness, in provincial ethnocentrism, in a cynical and manipulative attitude towards human beings.

          She adds that Lynd was fired and became a labor lawyer. David Graeber didn’t get tenure either. These are the people I admire.
          Read Sheldon Wolin’s “Democracy Inc” and especially the chapter “Intellectual Elites Against Democracy”. He talks about their secret language. VEry “Eyes Wide Shut”.

      2. John Doe, MBA

        One time, in a name-brand B school, having flunked an exam in a fit of pique by venting my spleen over the exploitative marketing plan in a case, I went to see the prof. After reasoning with me like a good sport for a while, he asked, “But this is the American way. Don’t you believe in America?” I looked and looked to see if he was shitting me but he at the very least had a total poker face. I really think he was serious. Weirdest part is, he was French.

    2. colinc

      …a finer collection of over-educated idiots I could never have imagined!

      I have never found anything but that in every company where I have worked over the past 40 yrs but I would hardly call them “over-educated.” Moreover, they were primarily middle and upper management including the CEO, CIO, COO, CFO, President, VP, etc. I have always wondered how a company could even stay in business, let alone profit, with such ignorance and incompetence in its “leadership.” I call them the “arrogantly ignorant” but, perhaps in this venue, the “ignorati” may be more apropos.

      1. James

        I work in one of those “special places” where a PhD is pretty much the norm, and the MBAs all suffer from PhD envy.

  7. DanP66

    In any case, at least we are starting to have a conversation about the fact that so many of our elites are morally corrupt.

    That can be nothing but good.

  8. craazyman

    I was a criminal before I got to business school, but it was a good incubator none the less, and I believe I acquired a more refined ability to discriminate between efficient and inefficient forms of theft. And whatever intermittent and casual trepidations I might have once had about the virulence of my natural instinct for unrestrained financial conquest was vanquished by the associations I formed with my classmates and by the theories of finance that we were taught. The former relaxed my already weak moral vigilence by mocking it as the sanctuary of the untalented weakling and the latter positively inflamed my sense of confidence in the innate accuracy of my admittedly powerful instincts. It was a fertile environment indeed for nourishing the progression of my ambitions. The ethics instruction, too, was quite useful, as it provided me with insights that do not come naturally to me, and which I employ, when needed, to reassure and manipulate the fools whose cooperation I require to achieve my purposes. Destiny commands me to greatness and I obey its directives. My schooling was simply one facet of its hand, lifting me higher.

    -John E. Cash, Esquire, MBA, LLC, LLD, PLC, PC, AA, BYOB

    1. James

      BYOB – LOL! I think I’ll start using that one and see if anyone catches on. I’ll bet not.

    2. Up the Ante

      .. and in my tradition of offering replies of unrestrained mirth to craazyman’s comments,

      A better description of Justice Dept. employees .. could not be found !

  9. Jack M. Hoff

    Years back, in Reagons day, I remember a 60 minutes program on TV telling of the new business school graduate, and how they were being taught that morality had no place in business. How ethics were only for other people. It seemed to highlight people who would knife their own mother if there was an extra nickle in it for them. Of course the business schools incubate criminals. Why do you think corruption is at near 100%, and better yet, they’re all playing the same fucking scam? Do you really believe each and every CEO had the same vision on the same dateline? Why they were taught these things, and their directions come from a bit higher than themselves. That’s where your search for the ultimate cesspool needs to focus. Who’s directing the show? Until the spotlight shines there, all your harping is just amusement for the 1%.

  10. Max424

    I was driving through my suburbia, a couple summers back, when I approached two young male teens playing roller hockey in the middle of the street.

    As I got closer, it was clear they weren’t playing with a ball or a plastic puck but with what appeared to be a dead rabbit.

    When I drew up parallel I realized the sliced and bloody rabbit might not be dead.

    Not that it mattered. I put the car park and opened my door and walked toward the wounded rabbit. On inspection, the top of the rabbit’s skull was sheared off, one ear was missing, and a back leg was so broken it was laying like a spaghetti noodle across the width of his back.

    The rabbit was still breathing, though, rapid and desperate.

    So I picked the rabbit up and snapped his neck and then I lost my Buddhist calm. I flung the carcass at what I thought was the oldest and it missed his head by inches, but the act of dead rabbit flying past the kid made him stumble backwards, and he tripped over the curb and into the grass.

    In the next moment I was looming over the young teen and screaming inches from his face, “Learn how to play! Do you understand me? Learn…how…to…play!”

    Then, looking into those terror filled eyes, a thought flashed, What the fuck is wrong with me? With that I stood up, walked back to my car, and drove away.

    1. Jumpjet

      If either of the boys were responsible for the rabbit’s mutilated state, I’d say you were only treating them the way sociopaths deserve to be treated. I suppose there’s no knowing that now, though.

      1. F. Beard

        Wrong! Those kids were guilty because the rabbit was still alive.

        Good for you Max for scaring the Hell out of that kid, literally!

    2. JTFaraday

      Yeah, we’re giving them some good raw materials.

      I’m a bit tired of the “the millennials, hopped up on speed, are so studious– and tech savvy!” narrative.

    3. Up the Ante

      “Then, looking into those terror filled eyes, a thought flashed, What the fuck is wrong with me [, thinking I don't live amongst savages] ? ”

      fixed it for ‘ya

    4. Nathanael

      I would probably have actually cornered those little abusers for quite a lot longer, to figure out what was going on in their heads. It’s fairly likely only one was a psychopath, and the other was what we call “highly suggestible”; there are too damn many people who are highly suggestible, and they form the foot soldiers for the psychopaths if we don’t innoculate them first.

  11. Cynthia

    I have a hard time seeing the value of a business degree. You can be an outstanding business person without having a business degree. But this isn’t true for most other science curriculums. You can’t be an outstanding physician without having a medical degree, you can’t be an outstanding chemist without having a chemistry degree — to name a few.

    So in order to make a business degree worth more than the paper it’s written on, business schools have incorporated a criminal element to their core curriculum. They are operating under the assumption that if you can’t develop a set of skills that enables their students to thrive and prosper in an honest and law-abiding way, develop a set of skills that enables them to thrive and prosper in a dishonest and unlawful way.

    1. enouf

      .. So in order to make a business degree FRN worth more than the paper it’s written on, business schools the Federal Reserve have incorporated a criminal element to their core curriculum. …

      there – fixed it for ya ;-)

      Love

    2. dirtbagger

      “…business schools have incorporated a criminal element to their core curriculum …” This is a pretty bold assertion, can you provide evidence of this?

      I don’t remember any of this, mostly a boat load of boring accounting and financial mathematics and theories.

    3. JEHR

      A long time ago, I started a business degree because that was where the future jobs were supposed to be. I did not last past December. The professor kept making squares on the blackboard and drawing the same line from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. He must have drawn about 20 during each lecture. I didn’t have a clue what any of them meant no matter how much I read and re-read the text.

      I finally got a degree in English Literature and Adult Education. At least there are no graphs there!!! :-)

    4. JTFaraday

      “I have a hard time seeing the value of a business degree.”

      My mother convinced my brother to double major in computer science.

      But that’s the kind of thinking that will turn you into a working stiff.

  12. Mcmike

    Every night, politicians and CEOs lie to us on the news shows – and every night, despite this, millions of Americans tune in again to be lied to.

    I do not have the slightest idea why people watch news conferences without a basket of rotten tomatoes, but we do it day after day.

    Next time we start dropping bombs or another scandal breaks, watch everyone flock to their TV sets, glued to their sets as the lies and ridiculous statements wash over them. Its a weird symbiotic kabuki that is beyond my comprehension

    As for the hungry sociopaths, you have your answer right there. Business attracts a disproportionate share of people with an insatiable hole in their psyche that they try to fill with pursuit of money. I suspect this void predates B- school.

  13. Thomas

    “The more recent full bore push to depict markets as virtuous, and by implication, superior to other forms of association and organization, and to weaken communities (particular labor organizations) goes back to the 1970s. The more people see themselves as atomized, the less cooperation makes sense. As people internalize these values, it becomes more and more likely that they’ll be willing to act in a ruthless, even criminal manner, if they can get away with it.”

    I would argue this goes back even further, to the founding Protestant principles upon which this country was founded and developed under. Benjamin Friedman, in his book “The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth,” explores the religious and philosophical origins of the righteous commerce=self-interest=progress paradigm. Our economic/political system is founded on the belief that self-interest and profit-maximizing are virtuous and that they yield moral and social progress. Today’s depiction of this well-established trait is particularly egregious, though nothing new.

    1. rotter

      until the late 70′s that impulse was publically restrained in “civic life”. Or, at least, most people, even people in business, agreed in public that it should be restrained, in as much as all agreed that such a thing as “civic life” existed.

    2. JTFaraday

      “…goes back to the 1970s.”

      And so does the efflorescence of business schools, and graduate business schools. “Schools of commerce” have been around forever, but it’s not really until the last expansion in mass higher education–also known as “the working class”– that expanding (and professionalizing) business schools found the tuition basis to help fuel their takeover of American campuses, only heightened over the course of the 1990s with the rise of finance and the consummation of the union between the faculty and the organized opportunists already in the field, also known as Fortune 500 corporations and the 1%.

  14. jsmith

    Business school is just the concentrated essence of criminality in our capitalist society, a society where unbridled competition has permeated every aspect of our lives.

    So, while it may feel well and good to boo and hiss at the Gordon Geckos, Jamie Dimon, Blanfeins etc etc, let’s not try and palliate the real issue which is that WE ARE ALL PART OF THIS ROTTEN SYSTEM.

    Sure, most of us aren’t actively stealing and ripping off people but how many of us still do business with those entities that do?

    Yeah, JPM and GS are just terrible but look at my returns!!

    As long as the system exists the way it does, we are ALL on the take in one respect or another and THAT is what should be the real focus of our soul-searching and investigations.

    How do we all free ourselves from complicity in a society that is more clearly seen every day to be nothing more than a vast criminal enterprise?

    1. Foppe

      Become catholic, confess on sunday. (Sorry, I don’t find your reminder very thought-inspiring.)

      1. jsmith

        I don’t like to advocate for socialist revolution in every one of my posts but I’m sure your jaded sensibilities would have a cynical one-liner for that, as well.

        For the beginning of an education, please see:

        http://www.wsws.org

        Carry on.

    2. colinc

      Astute and so very accurate, jsmith. I have been proclaiming that exact perspective for at least a decade. I have not worked at any company that isn’t defrauding their customers and their employees to ever greater degrees. How else to “explain” the exorbitant increases in CEO/etc. compensation while employee wages have “stagnated” (which is an overly optimistic term). Therefore, everyone who is exploited (via “employment” or shopping) by these criminal organizations is, in point of fact, not only aiding and abetting those crimes but also contributing to the destruction of their children’s capacity to even survive on this rock. “Society” no longer exists. In its place tribalism has degenerated any such construct into a dysfunctional conglomeration of fruity little clubs. The “future” is indeed bleak.

    3. dirtbagger

      Agree with you on this JS. Business professionals (schools) just seem to get more of the spotlight. It is hard to argue that ethics are higher in most other professional groups(medical,legal,contractors,public service, professional sports, et.al.).

  15. YesMaybe

    Sums it up:

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1997-03-10/

    The schools might not endow them with ethics and integrity, but it’s experience with coworkers and superiors that teaches them what is tolerated/encouraged. And those who do have integrity will for the most part weed themselves out. Otherwise, they have to get weeded out as “not a team player” by their superiors.

  16. Jill

    Except for the fact that power elites collude and sometimes share with each other when it benefits them, the description of the Ik fits them well. (I noted the criticism of this description by other posters and will only use it as an enumeration of traits.) Power elites have no concern for the well being of those who are not attached to their group. They have no concern for the earth whose existence makes their own possible. It is not possible to find a group that is more sociopathic than they are.

    Yes, societies can collapse. We see this all the time. This nation is in the middle of catastrophic collapse. It has already collapsed at the top. There are no moral or legal barriers to the criminality present in the power elites, a criminality that permits murder and torture.

    Business (and other professional training) schools are useful in fostering people who are as atomistic as the description of the Ik. A sociopathic power elite needs people who won’t care and won’t question to serve them. Then there is the use of propaganda to turn people on each other. I see the govt. telling the right and left that each is the other’s greatest enemy. Useful that, because it isn’t true and better, it hides reality well.

    The US has already socially disintegrated at the top. It therefore lies to the rest of us to turn towards each other. If we do not, there is no reason to believe the US is “exceptional” and will avoid the fate of all other nations led by corrupt, criminal, lizard overlords!

    1. Capo Regime

      Great insight +10 Top and the bottom too. I think the ones at the top and the bottom are a lot faster to see things than say the poor duped middle class.

  17. JP Shannon

    Business schools like Chicago and Harvard and Yale and Kellogg may incubate criminals but governments allow their graduates to prosper and steal in societies that refuse to stop them either through effective laws or Tax Policy.
    Two kinds of people – those who steal and those who are stolen from. The 99% create all wealth and the 99% continue to allow themselves to be robbed blind! The corruption has overtaken all governments world wide – and that is clearly no secret.
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/07/scandal-after-scandal-lie-upon-lie-whats-going-on/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29
    Corruption is the Defining Quality of the Worlds governments and economic activity. The cause is obvious to anyone who can think – Greed – the root of all evil!
    A TRUTH we all ignore because we are too brainwashed or afraid or so called powerless to eliminate at its source. Justice for “WE THE PEOPLE” can only happen if we eliminate the cause of our collective suffering!
    Governments world wide have been hijacked by CentaMillionaire$ and Billionaire$ – malignant narcissists aka psychopaths who lack empathy and have no conscience. Unfix-able and unstoppable especially when they attain vast wealth.
    To level the playing field and eliminate the corrupting power of wealth controlled by these sick greedy amoral evildoers,”WE THE PEOPLE” (aka government) need to TAX ALL WEALTH OUT OF EXISTANCE! If you make or have more than $10,000,00o the government (aka the little people who don’t make or have $10,000,ooo) takes it all – a 100% tax rate eliminating greedy psychopaths – world wide. Those sick enough to ever attain that lofty level of wealth, will not be allowed to use even that wealth for buying politicians and judges running for election because all elections will be state sponsored and financed by WE THE PEOPLE – from our taxes.
    If being a Decamillionaire can not satisfy the Narcissistic greed of sick sociopaths, then I suggest they stick a gun in their mouths, pull the trigger and end the suffering they are causing humanity. Finally a real justice, WE THE PEOPLE clearly have a right and moral obligation to imposed on them.
    If you want to see corruption of government end – then this is our / “We the People” only hope.
    “How to Think” if you can handle the truth!
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_to_think_20120709/
    Let it Begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. mmcgee

    Two thoughts-

    1) Much of business is dependent on government spending and as such defrauding government is perceived as a victimless crime since the thought of the taxpayer as a victim is long dead.

    2) Real criminal enterprises have evolved through the last three generations to become the current group of business/political leaders. Criminals begat criminals who used criminal proceeds to buy legitimacy but the roots of the money are deep and form the image we now see as systemic corruption.

    “Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime oublié, parce qu’ il a été proprement fait.”

    1. Capo Regime

      I would mock some laywer/lobbyist friends who always referred to themselves as entrepreneurs. Guess they were right. If not outright crininality certainly enabling. Always wondered (Yves) how McKensie got off so easy from having been up to their ears at ENRON–believe it was the largest engagement they had to date.

    2. enouf

      … 1) Much of business is dependent on government spending and as such defrauding government is perceived as a victimless crime since the thought of the taxpayer as a victim is long dead. …

      [bolded emphasis is mine]

      While i wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment, i’ll have to entirely disagree with your use of the term “victimless crime” ..

      “Fraud” is the 3rd of the 3 unlawful behaviours.

      Victimless crimes are things like speeding, littering, jaywalking, driving without a license, fishing without a license, filming a public agent, occupying public spaces … all the crap listed in all the Acts/Statutes/Codes/Regs/Ordinances that are ‘legislated’ that infringe upon a Sovereign’s “Rights” (WeThePeople, individually, to move about freely upon the land, to pursue happiness, to live life, to exercise our liberties) .. *so long as* we don’t;

      A. Harm another, Initiate Violence, damage another’s property
      B. Breach the Peace
      C. Use FRAUD in our contracts and dealings with each other.

      here’s a nice recent summation;

      http://www.victimlesscrimespree.com/

      Love

  19. Tom

    In spite of the ingenious methods devised by statesmen and financiers to get more revenue from large fortunes, and regardless of whether the maximum sur tax remains at 25% or is raised or lowered, it is still true that it would be better to stop the speculative incomes at the source, rather than attempt to recover them after they have passed into the hands of profiteers.
    If a man earns his income by producing wealth, nothing should be done to hamper him. For has he not given employment to labor, and has he not produced goods for our consumption? To cripple or burden such a man means that he is necessarily forced to employ fewer men, and to make less goods, which tends to decrease wages, unemployment, and increased cost of living.
    If, however, a man’s income is not made in producing wealth and employing labor, but is due to speculation, the case is altogether different. The speculator as a speculator, whether his holdings be mineral lands, forests, power sites, agricultural lands, or city lots, employs no labor and produces no wealth. He adds nothing to the riches of the country, but merely takes toll from those who do employ labor and produce wealth.
    If part of the speculator’s income – no matter how large a part – be taken in taxation, it will not decrease employment or lessen the production of wealth. Whereas, if the producer’s income be taxed it will tend to limit employment and stop the production of wealth.
    Our lawmakers will do well, therefore, to pay less attention to the rate on incomes, and more to the source from whence they are drawn.
    Written in the mid 1920′s by unknown

  20. F. Beard

    Well, if our money system strongly depends on the goodness of those who run and use it, then we should strongly consider changing it, shouldn’t we?

  21. Hugh

    Kleptocracy is an elite run and managed enterprise. Business schools are just one of many filters that help to select and train candidates for the kleptocratic elites. You could say the same for journalism, political science, and economics programs as well as law schools.

    This is all part of the larger devolution of academia. Academia has always been strongly elitist, but it was also part of the broader democratic purpose of creating an informed citizenry. That mission often referred to as a liberal arts education was abandoned decades ago. Universities became corporatized in their structure and their outlook. Their mission became to partner up with corporations both for research and in training the future labor force of those corps. And then they morphed again. As tuitions and fees have gone far beyond the ability of most Americans to afford without falling into lifelong undischargeable debt, universities are increasingly becoming a place where elites send their children so that they will receive, not an education, but the social certification which grants them membership into the elites.

    Put simply, you can think of the stages academia has passed through as education > corporatization > elite certification. In this, you can see how the focus shifted from what benefited the individual and society to narrower and narrower groupings which ultimately benefit neither.

    1. enouf


      Kleptocracy is an elite run and managed enterprise. Business schools are just one of many filters that help to select and train candidates for the kleptocratic elites. You could say the same for journalism, political science, and economics programs as well as law schools.

      thanks for mentioning this, especially the last sentence since if all peoples acted honorably, none of this discourse .. NONE of it, would even need to happen.

      [Note-to-self] Gee .. i wonder what Moses was thinking as he returned from Mt. Sanai..

      Love

  22. skinla

    What he wrote probably does not deserve much attention.
    But the NAME “Luigi Zinglaes” for a man IS INTERESTING. I have never heard that before.

  23. JP Shannon

    Who really cares – no one reads his stuff – not even the author or my comment above would had started a fire storm!!!

    1. enouf

      I would much sooner trust my border collies’ judgement than any non-Sovereign-, non-Sentient- acting sociopathic and psychopath ic human counterpart.

      Love

  24. abprosper

    That stuff about the IK smells of utter nonsense and the lousy anthropology that permeated that period.

    However it does tell us a lot about the Zero Hedgers mindset …

    Yuck.

    As for the article, of course they do. An business major friend of mine told me outright that costs benefit analysis lacks an moral standing.

    As an example, the rule being if you could make and keep a huge fortune in exchange for say 5 years in a Country Club prison that not only is this a good trade off its the best one since you’ll never need to work and its probably more than you could earn legitimately

    So yes in at least some cases, theft is applauded over honor.

    And yes also this will get worse, that type of pathological greed is and was a major part of the early US credo and as the basic systems are breaking down for many reasons it will only get worse .

    Last as to the Sovereign “Men” how can anyone live that way? Its an untenable, unstable, inhuman ideology. We need people we can trust to be human.

    And no they really can’t trust anyone because they can’t be trusted. Since we know people like that are only and always selfish and will betray you if needed, if there is a real crisis such people will end up dealt away with. Charismatic sociopaths sometimes end up top ape but these “people” can’t even manage to be that useful.

  25. Leland Somers

    Before someone goes to business school, before he/she goes to any school, he has a personality that is in place – this happens before he/she is 7 years old. The rest of his/her life is simply filling in the outline already in place. Criminals may be shaped and polished by the amoral people who call themselves economists, but if they weren’t already bent in that direction, they wouldn’t end up as criminals. Personality comes before profession.

    1. enouf

      Agreed .. to a degree; however “Identity” comes in the adolescent years (if one is fortunate enough to live that long) (as does homeostasis of one’s weight, biorythyms, etc — the brain is still physically growing, for it’s last *major* final stage/developement) .. that said; Yes, indeed, even below 7 yrs old (in-utero through 5 yrs old) are the most influential, foundational and formative years (as far as crucial structural neural connections are made; consciousness / awareness / environment (what we perceive as Life)

      Love

  26. JTFaraday

    Business schools today are the primary cultural site of mass inculcation in neoliberal ideology. From there to criminality is just one short step. The criminality we are seeing today is the cumulative effect of this mass inculcation in combination with the primitive response that it draws out of our “human factors of production” under pressure—not to mention mass delusion. (Seriously, are you really starving?)

    You don’t actually have to have gone to business school to be susceptible to the morally disordering influence of mass inculcation in neoliberalism on business culture at large.

    But the thing that most distinguishes the business school from the rest of the University is its dearth of virtually any alternative intellectual paradigm. It therefore has nothing to offer its students in the way of tools to combat an ideology that will victimize most of them tomorrow, even as all too many of them victimize people for pay (for a while) today.

    They have the guff to call this pragmatism.

    Meanwhile, tellingly, neoliberalism is not actually taught as a positive and productive framework for viewing any aspect of the world anywhere whatsoever in the schools of arts and sciences (where research faculty work)– with, of course, the notable exception of the economics department, which today serves the business school and panders to its ethically compromising direct ties to a now thoroughly corrupted neoliberal cum fascist global elite.

    Even in under theorized “political science” departments, the primary defunct intellectual paradigm is thinly disguised left-right partisanship, not neoliberalism. Not fit for human consumption, but nevertheless a self-befuddled culture of distraction, not the war-plan itself.

    Increasingly, the professional schools on the other hand, are being pulled into line– Law Schools, International Relations, (domestic) Public Policy—oops, sorry—”School of Social Entrepreneurialism,” etc.

    Do business schools incubate criminals? Is the Pope Catholic? Does the Church think it does God’s work?

    It’s still a crime against thought, even if nothing else.

    1. kxmoore

      i saw this coming when a former leader uttered “that depends on what the meaning of the word is is”.

      as for you zero hedge bashers yeah it’s over the top. but it is one of the few websites that voices proper outrage at the takeover of economic control of this country by the military/banking/government complex. We live in a mad world where career criminal bankers like Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin can still appear on CNBC today and have there asses kissed, but Pilkington would rather mock retail traders

      1. JTFaraday

        Don’t take it personally. He also red baits people he *thinks* might be marxists.

        Speaking of definitions, here is an extended definition of “neoliberalism” that includes a short discussion of its ethic:

        “As you would expect from a complete philosophy, neoliberalism has answers to stereotypical philosophical questions such as “Why are we here” and “What should I do?”. We are here for the market, and you should compete. Neo-liberals tend to believe that humans exist for the market, and not the other way around: certainly in the sense that it is good to participate in the market, and that those who do not participate have failed in some way. In personal ethics, the general neoliberal vision is that every human being is an entrepreneur managing their own life, and should act as such. Moral philosophers call this is a virtue ethic, where human beings compare their actions to the way an ideal type would act – in this case the ideal entrepreneur. Individuals who choose their friends, hobbies, sports, and partners, to maximise their status with future employers, are ethically neoliberal. This attitude – not unusual among ambitious students – is unknown in any pre-existing moral philosophy, and is absent from early liberalism. Such social actions are not necessarily monetarised, but they represent an extension of the market principle into non-economic area of life – again typical for neoliberalism.

        The idea of employability is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximise their advantage on the labour market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon – one of those which would surprise Adam Smith…

        In practice many ‘workfare neoliberals’ also believe that there is a separate category of people, who can not participate fully in the market. Workfare ideologies condemn this underclass to a service function for those who are fully market-compatible. Note however, that by recognising a non-market underclass, neoliberals undermine their own claims about the universal applicability of market principles.

        The general ethical precept of neoliberalism can be summarised approximately as:

        * “act in conformity with market forces”
        * “within this limit, act also to maximise the opportunity for others to conform to the market forces generated by your action”
        * “hold no other goals”

        If everyone lives by such entrepreneurial precepts, then a world will come into existence in which not just goods and services, but all human and social life, is the product of conformity to market forces.”

        http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/neoliberalism.html

    2. hermanas

      Isn’t this “conversion by the sword” in today’s new religion (economics). Even now the war machine is petitioning Congress to “save our jobs”.

  27. Nathanael

    Please don’t make unjustified insults on autistic people.

    Austitic people are absolutely willing to consider real proven evidence that altruism lights up pleasure centers in the brain. In fact there is evidence that autistic people are *more* altruistic than average. Just because they can’t figure out what would make other people happy, or can’t figure out whether other people are happy, doesn’t mean they aren’t *trying*.

    I’m disturbed by the increase in slurs against autistic people which are showing up in the media. Our problems lately have been caused not by autistic people, but by short-term-thinker psychopaths, an entirely different mental problem. (Not all psychopaths are bad either, but the problems we are seeing now really are correlated with psychopathy, and they have nothing to do with autism.)

  28. Laurence Topliffe

    The More Gray Matter You Have, the More Altruistic You Are
    ScienceDaily (July 11, 2012) — The volume of a small brain region influences one’s predisposition for altruistic behavior. Researchers from the University of Zurich show that people who behave more altruistically than others have more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobe, thus showing for the first time that there is a connection between brain anatomy, brain activity and altruistic behavior.
    Why are some people very selfish and others very altruistic? Previous studies indicated that social categories like gender, income or education can hardly explain differences in altruistic behavior. Recent neuroscience studies have demonstrated that differences in brain structure might be linked to differences in personality traits and abilities. Now, for the first time, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by Ernst Fehr, Director of the Department of Economics, show that there is a connection between brain anatomy and altruistic behavior.
    To investigate whether differences in altruistic behavior have neurobiological causes, volunteers were to divide money between themselves and an anonymous other person. The participants always had the option of sacrificing a certain portion of the money for the benefit of the other person. Such a sacrifice can be deemed altruistic because it helps someone else at one’s own expense. The researchers found major differences in this respect: Some participants were almost never willing to sacrifice money to benefit others while others behaved very altruistically.
    More gray matter
    The aim of the study, however, was to find out why there are such differences. Previous studies had shown that a certain region of the brain — the place where the parietal and temporal lobes meet — is linked to the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their thoughts and feelings. Altruism is probably closely related to this ability. Consequently, the researchers suspected that individual differences in this part of the brain might be linked to differences in altruistic behavior. And, according to Yosuke Morishima, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich, they were right: “People who behaved more altruistically also had a higher proportion of gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobes.”
    Differences in brain activity
    The participants in the study also displayed marked differences in brain activity while they were deciding how to split up the money. In the case of selfish people, the small brain region behind the ear is already active when the cost of altruistic behavior is very low. In altruistic people, however, this brain region only becomes more active when the cost is very high. The brain region is thus activated especially strongly when people reach the limits of their willingness to behave altruistically. The reason, the researchers suspect, is that this is when there is the greatest need to overcome man’s natural self-centeredness by activating this brain region.
    Ernst Fehr adds: “These are exciting results for us. However, one should not jump to the conclusion that altruistic behavior is determined by biological factors alone.” The volume of gray matter is also influenced by social processes. According to Fehr, the findings therefore raise the fascinating question as to whether it is possible to promote the development of brain regions that are important for altruistic behavior through appropriate training or social norms.

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