16 December 2013

Dollars and Cents

How do you stop people/companies from doing something bad/ignorant/stupid which fucks up life for the rest of us (and, sometimes, the perps themselves)? Two examples from recent news provide some insight.

The Volker Rule, watered down as it is.

Shawn Thornton's 15 game suspension.

In both cases, crimes (or misbehaviour, if you prefer) are punished after the fact. The better way is to modify the incentives to behave badly. In the case of Volker, and financial sector regulation generally, is to end the veil of protection afforded corporations. The Supremes have already decided, by what logic I don't follow, that corporations are somewhat persons. Well, just as parents of juveniles are responsible for the bad behavior of their minor spawn, so corporate officers are responsible for the corporation's bad doings. To the slammer, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

In the case of NHL hockey, set the rule: a minor penalty is now four minutes, and the offended player chooses which player on the offending team warms his ass in the sin bin. Change the incentives.

The movie "The Wolf of Wall Street", from the book of the same name, and a semi-accurate, semi-autobiographical tale of astounding evil is in the adverts now. Intended, so it appears, to make the working stiff retch at what the cunning and devious can garner. Albeit, this guy did get caught. Coming to a theater near you soon. Of course, the powers that be don't really want to adjust the incentives, since they'll be trotting through that revolving door soon enough. Don't want to endanger The Big Pay Day.

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