Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.
Last month, Anat R.Admati, the George G.C. Parker Professor of Finance and Economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, published a very important working paper titled, It Takes a Village to Maintain a Dangerous Financial System. At 26 pages, it’s a bit longer than what you might leisurely read in the course of your daily activities, but I strongly suggest you take the time. Of course, if you don’t have the time, I’ve provided some key excerpts for you below.
Despite deconstructing an intentionally complicated subject, the paper was both an enjoyable read and easily understandable. Additionally, the range of issues she successfully covered in such an short piece was nothing short of heroic.
I knew it would be good after reading the abstract…
Abstract: I discuss the motivations and actions (or inaction) of individuals in the financial system, governments, central banks, academia and the media that collectively contribute to the persistence of a dangerous and distorted financial system and inadequate, poorly designed regulations. Reassurances that regulators are doing their best to protect the public are false. The underlying problem is a powerful mix of distorted incentives, ignorance, confusion, and lack of accountability. Willful blindness seems to play a role in flawed claims by the system’s enablers that obscure reality and muddle the policy debate.
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