It Isn’t What We Are Learning – It’s Who Is Learning

There is a lot of important conversation going on currently about what we have all learned about regulation in the financial industry, and what happens with a lack of it, what we could have done differently, why we (and the regulators) ignored often-prescient warnings, and so on.

This all presupposes that learning is, in some way, going on. But I don’t think the people who personally put us here – and there is a rather clear group of them – have been punished. In fact, I’d challenge our readers to name a SINGLE person involved in the real crises who has been identified and punished for his misbehaviors.

On the other hand, there are many of these folk who got bonuses, continued to collect CEO pay, and so on. If they have learned anything, it is that there was no downside to blowing up the local and world economy, other than a short respite before they have a chance to start all over again.

And this is the real question: Who, exactly, is learning lessons? We know from his current interview series, a pathetic attempt orchestrated by Karl Rove to re-define the Bush Legacy, that the Decider has not learned a thing from his countless mistakes, but he was learning-averse from the beginning.

In fact, given the roles of all those, including the Bush administration miscreants, are there any perps at all who have seen the light? Who now recognize the error of their ways, for creating trillions of dollars of damage to the global economic system? Why are we treating this like some kind of victimless crime, when their actions have had more victims than any past economic debacle, perhaps shy of the Great Depression?

Why are we acting as though no one caused these problems?

I guarantee you, once a group of hands-on bundlers and schemers, corrupt regulators and paid-for politicos are put in front of the public, not a single one will show not only remorse, but any sense of learning, at all.

And so the question comes to my mind: if the people who brought on this catastrophe have not learned by it, why should those wno didn’t cause it have to go through the learning process? The answer is simple: so that we can identify people like this ahead of time, next time, and prevent them from getting anywhere near their current seats of power. Self-dealing presidents, incurious regulators, power-hungry sycophants in top jobs, incompetent or unethical corporate leaders; we will need to identify the types much earllier, next time around, and make sure they don’t take us down this path again.

That’s the lesson, more than which bonds to regulate and how, which we should all be focused upon now.