Saturday 25 May 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, May 25, 2013 with No comments | Labels: , , ,

Size is relative. To a little kid a big kid is big. To the big kid the bigger kid is big. And to the bigger kid the biggest kid is big.

In school most of the bullying is actually not done by the biggest kid. There is only one 'biggest' while there are plenty of 'bigger' so the cumulative capacity for being mean is bigger among the many bigger than the solitary biggest. Punishing the biggest kid does not address bullying. But it does give the impression 'something is being done' even though nothing much is achieved.

Which is something rippers-off in politics and industry have noticed. By giving all us ripped-off Britons the spectacle of a really big fish getting a pasting in a courtroom or a parliamentary committee room or on the front page of a newspaper we are deceived that 'something is being done' and are thus lulled into doing nothing.

High pay is not actually to reward a top banker for being a really good banker, an energy company director for being really energetic, nor a top civil servant for being exceedingly civil. High pay is to compensate them for being called liars and buffoons. It buys them entry into the society of other liars and buffoons, where they can provide mutual consolation in their clubs chuckling into their canapes and claret.

Britain is going through a period of pillorying famous men and women. Lord Stephenson, former chairman of HBOS, was called dishonest or delusional by Lord Lawson in a parliamentary committee hearing. Matt Brittin, former MD of Google in the UK, was accused of doing evil by Margaret Hodge chairing another parliamentary committee. By taking their public pastings, these and many other famous men ensure nothing will be done.

Our leaders are proud people of substance, and would not sell their honour cheaply. So they sell it expensively. And thereby provide cover for all the other less famous rippers-off. Not just to draw our attention away from all the smaller misdeeds, but to provide the less big crooks moral cover that they are not as crooked as the biggest crooks. And as the biggest crooks get away with it, they would be naive not to do a little crooking when the opportunity arises.

This excellent RSA Animate video of the speech by Dan Ariely, professor of behavioural economics, considers the motivations behind all the less than biggest crooks, from sub-board level bankers all the way down to the likes of us pinching a biro from the office. How we feel good about being bad.

As the video points out, we get far more ripped out of us by second division crooks than by those in the premier league.


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