Thursday, April 29, 2010

Question, Loaded for Bear, Boar, and Bull

Are gargantuan Wall Street bonuses a gross perversion of our gifting instinct*? It's perverse because the executives bestowing the gifts didn't earn their gift-goods in any obvious way. They simply get to distribute the largesse back to the people who, on a generous interpretation of their activities, actually did the earning. In the case of the recent financial scandals it's clear that the gift goods were stolen and that we, the tax payers, are on the hook for them.

*Ah, yes, I know, "instinct" is a tendentious word. But I'm sticking with it for the moment. I'll consider mounting a rigorous defense of the usage when those executives come clean about what they've done. Meanwhile, it might be interesting to re-read Shakespeare's Timon of Athens, which is about perverse gifting.

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