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Shame and Guilt on Wall Street


Never have so few profited from the misfortune of so many.

Geoffrey Raymond makes me wonder what our nation has come to.

According to USA Today, the 54-year-old Brooklyn artist "has become a regular sight lately on the scene of big Wall Street fiascoes, where he gives the public a chance to vent by scrawling comments on his oversized portraits of powerful corporate executives."
Minyanville's Why Wall Street Will Never Be the Same
When a street-corner artist is the only person left who will instigate a conversation between the people on the street and the ivory-tower white-collar criminals who gamble away their retirement funds, I can't help but shudder.

Toddo and the rest of the Minyanville A-Team have been warning of this dangerously slippery slope for years. Though others are also making such Monday-morning-quarterback claims, Toddo has the cyber evidence to prove it.

The troubling thing is not so much that Harrison rang the shark warning bell many times (a la Roy Scheider in Jaws), but that nobody, absolutely nobody, came out of the water before the blood started flowing.

Now fortunes, not to mention the lives and retirements of ordinary people who trusted a system that was supposed to be at least minimally regulated, have been irrevocably decimated. Where, oh where, are the navigational beacons that could have, and should have, kept us from running the supertanker aground? The fact is that those at the helm of the super-ship deliberately ran it aground. Or, at least watched lethargically as disaster approached, knowing their fortunes were safe in their executive exit packages.

Enter shame and guilt. As a former Disney executive-turned-McGraw-Hill-executive turned-marriage-and-family-therapist-turned-executive-coach-and-author, I have long subscribed to the notion that guilt is a sense of regret and remorse for what I have done and shame is a sense of regret and remorse for who I am.

I believed that the former could be used as a sort of healthy, "godly" guilt, to keep myself in line. But I rebelled against the notion that I should ever feel regret or remorse for who I am.

Now, after Citigroup's (C) board "fiddled while debt crisis grew," (New York Post, November 7, 2007) and Enron, WaMu (WM), Fannie (FNM), Freddie (FRE), Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers (LEH), et. al. tanked big time, I'm wondering if shame isn't in order for those senior executives who profited from the pain and loss suffered by so many - even after the truth of their dastardly greed and exploitation was revealed.

If Sir Winston Churchill were here today, he would say, "Never have so few owed so much to so many."

Neither I -- nor anyone reading my words -- is without sin. So drop the stones.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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