Is there a noble banker in the world? Only someone in the lending business who sees his calling as a “service for the people,” I believe, could correct past abuses and recommend changes for, and in the best interests of, us “99 percenters.”
I am sure there are many who entered the field with the best intentions, and still work with distinction, living up to the honor bestowed only upon the most trustworthy in society. We need honest and reliable people who know their way in economics to guide the rest of us. When a few abuse the faith we place in them, it cripples the entire process and causes the type of havoc we see in protests by people who feel betrayed, used and nearly hopeless.
Part of my “duty” as a lieutenant in the Army was to serve as a payroll officer in the states and another time in Vietnam. I short-change myself both times, losing $80 once and about $40 the next time. I didn’t report either discrepancy because I did not want superior officers to question my efficiency or competency.
You see, I felt “honored” to serve in that capacity. I had barely obtained a high school degree with no classes in home economics or any other type of economics. While in the military, I served as “paymaster” in between roles as a training officer in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, and as a combat infantry platoon leader in Southeast Asia. I enjoyed assisting those of all ranks who depended on their monthly pay, and I got so much out of taking part in their lives and what they planned to do with their cash.
(The Army had also assigned me to prosecute soldiers committing minor infractions and I learned I never wanted to take the side of government against a person ever again. I would eventually end up representing defendants in criminal cases brought by government officials.)
I believe that anyone who works in banking provides a much-needed service to the rest of us. We elevate our financial managers and count on them to give advice to our government leaders to steer us through both good and bad economic times. We depend on them when we need to borrow money and we trust they won’t take advantage of their unique positions.
But when they do, we need people from within the field to call them out, to decry practices that might have been legal in the eyes of the law, but clearly illegal according to the social contract persons of their station assume when taking on such a role.
Money lending historically has been seen as a necessary evil at best, and grounds for excommunication at worst. (See the practice by the Catholic Church.) A main argument against it was that it created excessive profit and gain without “labor.” Labor was deemed as “work” in a Biblical context. Profits from money-lending or “usury” were not gained from any substantial work but from greed, trickery and manipulation, according to early tenets in the three major western religions.
Unless honorable men practicing in the field step forward and offer to make needed changes today, I believe we’ll return to those “Dark Ages” where more drastic measures were used against those “one per centers.”
Can anyone spell “D E F A U L T” on loans?