Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ocean's Eleven

As I listened to the presentations and discussions at the banking conference I diligently worked to sort out what was unfolding before me.

On the one hand, the people who were participating were among the finest, brightest and most reliable people one could find anywhere. These were people of real integrity.

On the other hand, the information that was being presented was logically false at its base and objectively destructive in its effect.

There was an array of technical language, detailed explanations, complex models, rules and systems which were being presented. To hear a person speak on these things can be quite impressive, especially if the listener is Keynesian or generally uninformed.

Thus we have quality people of substantial intellect, who are well credentialed and experienced, explaining the current financial crisis to the audience in a sophisticated manner. What is one to think?

Here is the analogy that came to mind, loose though it may be.

For the reader who has never seen Ocean's Eleven, it is the story of Danny Ocean and his team of ten who plan and execute a $150 million heist from a high security vault in a Las Vegas casino.

Regarding this movie, we could describe in great detail the knowledge of the casino, the gaming regulations, timing, team skill sets, technology, training sessions, staging locations and more.

For example, explaining the workings of technology employed in the heist would make one seem quite brilliant.

Imagine the techno jargon, charts and graphs, meters and gages that could be used to describe the EMP machine that knocked out power to the city.

The same would be true for the technology which enabled interception of video signals and telephone calls being routed through the casino. The list goes on...

As our Ocean’s Eleven presenters explained the nuances of the technology and the system, they would be brilliant and entertaining.

But they are still telling us about a robbery.

The lesson?

Neither the integrity of the person nor mastery of models and terms will make an immoral system become moral. Unfortunately, destruction does not become edifying because nice people speak intelligently about the process.

It is our duty to know and understand that which we support.

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