Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Bankers: the wise man who saw them coming...

Words of extraordinary wisdom: talking about different types of human activity, the speaker mentions ‘the various ways of money-making – these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable, and no-one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or result which flows from them.’

If I were being really picky, I might question whether financial services do us good or whether they’re just a necessary evil, something we put up with just so that commerce can keep going and we can get the things we need to make life liveable. Or at least survivable.

But the rest – spot on. The only motivation for going into that shady sector is for the sake of the rewards. It’s almost as though the speaker had met the Bernie Madoffs of our days, the Fred Goodwins, the Bob Diamonds. To say nothing of those fine upstanding people at Standard Chartered.

Bob Diamond: sacrificing himself for all our sakes
with nothing but astronomical pay to show for it
These are the people who sacrifice themselves to do those disagreeable things which most of us wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, but which are necessary to ensure society keeps going. And who nobly reward themselves out of their clients’ or the taxpayers’ pockets because, hey, someone has to do that too, and why shouldn’t it be them?

So, you may be asking, whose wise words was I quoting? Why, Plato’s. In The Republic, from 2500 years ago. Smart guy, wouldn’t you agree? You certainly can’t fault his prescience.

The author of The Republic.
Saw it all coming
And what a testament to all the progress we’ve made since his primitive times.

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