Yet even so, despite the carnage, the concept of the nouveau riche, once so despised as somewhat tacky, and certainly while classist and elitist in and of itself, has disappeared. The ideal is to be “riche” no matter what. Americans are not stupid. They understand that in today’s society, money rules everything else.
And in that milieu, despite the pain, unless it gets far more severe, the extreme overhaul and regulation of both Wall Street and the business culture of this country, indeed our core cultural values, will not change – leaving the door open for another scenario of exactly the same proportions, if not worse – from happening all over again. Only this time, it may happen much sooner than anyone expects, with far more devastating results. Modern American Societal Culture and Business Trends
Now, there are those that could say that there is a level of very subtle white collar crime that is a kind of hybrid corporate/government mix that occurred during this period, in that the housing market boom was deliberately encouraged by the policies of the Bush administration and Congress along with certain elements in American society that allowed it to occur and fed off of it. While the societal trends that caused the elections of political officials whose policies might make them white collar criminals are not crimes, the individuals who actually created the policies are.
This paper will look at both societal trends that created a culture of corruption that bred so many opportunities and hotbeds for white collar criminals to thrive, and identify who they were and are, not to mention their victims, and possible reforms and solutions. Because failure to diversify the economy is such basic economic reality and governing strategy that failure to do so, at a time of increased outsourcing, can only logically lead one to think that this was a deliberate strategy known as structural unemployment.
In other words the government literally conned people into consuming through various different ways to distract them from the reality that there was no more real economy in America any more, while creating a distraction called the housing boom. Except Wall Street of course. A strategy both created to maximize corporate profit, while keeping the economy humming with consumer spending on cheap goods bought at Wal-Mart (made in China) and financed by the equity they had in their vastly overinflated house value, driven ever upward by the boom which was supposed to last forever, or that was what the American consumer was told over and over.
To deliberately undermine an entire economic system, not to mention destroy an entire generation while conning them into believing they are on track to a life time of prosperity, is the ultimate white collar crime. It’s called fraud and deception. A Breeding Ground for Corporate Criminal Activity Certainly the atmosphere of increasingly oligarchy in this country over the last thirty years, and most certainly the last fifteen in this milieu, have created even more opportunities for criminal behavior, and it flourished quite spectacularly.
In fact one might even say it was the order of the day, particularly on Wall Street. To quote Oscar Wilde, most people can “resist everything but temptation. ” And the boys (and most of the people who work in finance still are, which only further adds to a culture of competition and macho one-upmanship which creates further pressure to sell and make profits no matter what) could certainly not resist. The Culture of White Collar Crime Meets Greed Is Good, Gordon Gekko Wall Street
But in a culture of white corporate criminals, the sociopathology of those who make up that culture are focused on different goals and results. The goals of those who worked on Wall Street were not to perpetuate responsible or even efficient functioning of the market. Or selling a customer a well or fair priced or even benchmarked good. In fact one of the issues at the heart of the Goldman Sachs fraud case is that literally the traders knew and actively discussed that the products they were selling were questionably valued if not essentially worthless.
But they, just like Citibank, who sold sub-prime mortgages even after they knew THAT market was in trouble, did so because they were functioning as criminals in a criminal environment, not to mention a highly competitive workplace where their own bonuses depended on sales per annum. The functioning of Wall Street during most of the naughts was a mix of hocus pocus shell game marketing psycho babble and equations drawn up by equally off the wall if unethical quants who were also relying on market assumptions that were completely incorrect and unsustainable that even they knew were wrong.
And sold as “we know you can’t understand this stuff but it’s profitable and it works. ” That is the classic carney con game in an Armani business suit. The truly amazing thing is how many people got duped by it. The truly tragic thing is how many people it either has already destroyed or will. A “Blowback” of Corporate White Collar Crime From The Cold War? The last time that happened was in the early nineteen sixties. When the issue of race and gender equality was finally addressed.
And a redistribution of wealth in society occurred that led to a limited social safety net, so that nobody ever fell completely through the cracks. This is the definition of a civil society. The antithesis of one run by white collar corporate thugs. That said, even then, this was largely both domestic and a ruse, since under the policies of the Cold War, American foreign policy supported business interests who certainly perpetuated that culture around the globe. It’s just that most Americans never knew about it.