New Yorker blogger, George Packer, has something to say about the differing moral codes in Switzerland and the US. The top guys at USB, the bank the Swiss government bailed out, "will forgo twenty-seven million dollars in compensation and bonuses. It appears that these Swiss bankers have a faint pulse of shame."
Sure. But not our guys. Our Wall Street gang is stuck in early moral development, Packer reports.
"Having brought the American and global economy to its knees through their reckless, short-sighted, downright stupid investments, and then looked to the government for a very expensive lifeline, the leaders of Citigroup, A.I.G., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman, and other financial giants are maintaining a carefully nonchalant public posture. Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Attorney General, had to hold a threatening press conference on Wall Street in order to frighten A.I.G. into announcing that raises, bonuses, and lavish retreats will be suspended. But fear is not the same thing as shame. Morally speaking, it’s inferior."
"The moral code of these Wall Street executives corresponds to stage one of Lawrence Kohlberg’s famous stages of morality: 'The concern is with what authorities permit and punish.' Morally, they are very young children. The Swiss bankers are closer to stage four, most common among late teens, where a concern for maintaining the good functioning of society takes hold. Stage six, an elaboration of universal moral principles based on an idea of the good society, is a distant dream for the titans of global finance."
Time to make sure these guys aren't let off the hook without at least a serious apology, Packer writes.
"I would like to see these malefactors of great wealth apologize to the country. I would like to see them organize their own press conference in a lineup on Wall Street and, in the manner of disgraced Japanese officials, bow low to the pavement, express contrition, and beg their countrymen’s forgiveness. Such a scene would go some way toward cleansing the smell of the financial crisis.
"Of course, nothing like this is going to happen. So instead, like the parents of two-year-olds, the next Congress should summon them to Washington and publicly punish these executives who, in Kohlberg’s terms, 'see morality as something external to themselves, as that which the big people say they must do.'"
Lotsa luck. I think the "parents" are just as unapologetic as Wall Street's brats.