Matthew Taylor from the RSA weights in on Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England’s argument that Britain needs to grow its finance sector despite the calamity it wrought on the economy:
“Arguably, the high flyers of finance capitalism are as obsessed with making money as sex addicts are with having sex. We wouldn’t expect a sex addict to be very good at fidelity or treating other people (particularly the objects of their desire) respectfully. So why would we expect financial speculators ever to be much good at behaving responsibly or in anyone’s interest than their own? The reason regulation in this sector has such a poor record is that those who run it have an obsessive drive to circumvent anything which gets in the way of money making.”
The notion that a top banker would have an objective view on how his industry impacts society in general encapsulates the serious flaw in modern capitalism. Organizing a society around self interest is destined to fail as externalities are never factored in. Car manufacturers work on the premise that selling more cars is good for them and good for the economy, but they don’t factor in the environmental impact or congestion problems exponentially increasing car numbers means for society in general. Doing so would destroy the notion that growth and profit are the only considerations in business. The increasing financialization of the economy works incredibly well for bankers who are brilliant at dreaming up ways of creating more money out of thin air, but not so well for everyone else who suffer the consequences of massive wealth inequality and the huge instability deregulation brings to their lives. An economy built on financial speculation is going to be inherently risky given it is based on projections that the people making them don’t necessarily understand themselves.
If there was serious evidence that online media is having a devastating impact on society, you can bet people like myself will come up with complicated and clever ways of ignoring it. Because as Upton Sinclair once stated, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.