What can we do to hold the bankers responsible for their actions? Steps, albeit small steps, are being taken to hold their employers (the banks and other financial institutions) responsible. However, the individuals themselves seem to be beyond the law. Their collective defense is that they simply did not understand the consequences of their actions; which I must admit does sound reasonable.
I have been thinking about this problem for some time, and have come up with a possible solution, derived from the case of the ox that gored.
Briefly these are the facts of the case: An ox belonging to one person gores an ox belonging to a second person, who then goes to court to seek compensation.
Thus begins the first recorded lawsuit for negligence in the history of mankind. For the past three millennia legal scholars have been discussing and analyzing this same case.
The fundamental problem is that we cannot blame the ox, since the ox by definition is one of the dumbest animals ever to walk on the face of the earth — hence the expression as dumb as an ox.
The above notwithstanding, the court ultimately decided, that the degree of compensation should be based on the nature of the ox. About 2000 years ago (sometime between 70ce and 200ce) the courts separated oxen — and by doing so everything else — into two categories:
a. Those who are innocent; i.e., with no past record of causing damage;
b. Those who are testified; i.e, with a past record of having caused damage.
Where the ox has been deemed to be innocent, the owner’s responsibility is more limited since he has no reason to believe his ox would cause damage. However, in the case of the ox which has been deemed to be testified, the owner has the added responsibility to ensure that everyone who can come into contact with his ox has been made aware that this animal has a record of causing damage.
The ox that gored has much in common with our bankers — the past masters of the universe. Just as the ox cannot be held responsible because it is too stupid to understand the consequences of its actions, so too the bankers — the masters of the universe — maintain that they cannot be held responsible because like the ox they too could not understand the consequences of their action.
I suggest that we should take the same remedial action with the bankers that we do with the ox. We label each negligent banker as testified by changing his name, and ensuring that his employers notifies all present and potential clients of the banker’s new name
J. Pierpont Smythe MBA, becomes Jimmy the Schmuck
Sir John Goldbag becomes Jack the Schmendrich
Freiherr Heinrich von Dorf un Schloss becomes Hank the Putz
Goldman Sachs, CitiBank, Bank of American etc., would then be required to send out fliers to everyone stating
During this period of insecurity,
when you no longer know who to trust.
You need have no more fears.
Your money is safe with us.
We have entrusted your life savings to
a Schmuck, a Schmendrich and a Putz
This would be a painless solution which will ensure the recent situation never ever recurs.