In the '50s and '60s, journalism wasn't a profession. It wasn't something you went to college for - it was really more of a trade. You had a lot of guys who came up working in newspapers at the copy desk, or delivery boys, and then they would somehow become reporters afterward and learn on the job.
Wall Street has turned the economy into a giant asset-stripping scheme, one whose purpose is to suck the last bits of meat from the carcass of the middle class.
Within the cult of Wall Street that forged Mitt Romney, making money justifies any behavior, no matter how venal.
There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power.
This idea that you can't be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don't stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It's possible to do this job with honor and dignity.
What makes us feel pessimistic about the world, ultimately, is the way the media encourage us to believe that our fate hangs on the every move of the promise-breaking, terminally disappointing Teflon liars in Washington.
In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you've always got a puncher's chance.
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game.
The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn't require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.
The threat posed by Bank of America isn't just financial - it's a full-blown assault on the American dream. Where's the incentive to play fair and do well, when what we see rewarded at the highest levels of society is failure, stupidity, incompetence and meanness? If this is what winning in our system looks like, who doesn't want to be a loser?
Obviously, people who commit crimes should be punished. Even people who steal socks and 'Snow White' videos should probably do time if they have priors, especially serious priors. But the punishment has to fit the crime, and the standard has to be the same for everyone.
You know what an effective deterrent to crime is? Jail! And do you know what kind of criminal penalty actually makes people think twice about committing crimes the next time? The kind that actually comes out of some individual's pocket, not fines that come out of the corporate kitty.
I'm a product of an East Coast liberal arts educational system.
Over the years, many in the public have become numb to news of financial corruption, partly because too many of these stories involve banker-on-banker crime.
Criminal justice, as it pertains to the Goldmans and Morgan Stanleys of the world, is not adversarial combat, with cops and crooks duking it out in interrogation rooms and courthouses. Instead, it's a cocktail party between friends and colleagues who from month to month and year to year are constantly switching sides and trading hats.
What we have now is a situation where politicians get a whole bunch of money from mainly business interests. Then once they hold that office, they spend all their time in office paying back over and over again those campaign contributions through various favors and contracts and that sort of thing.
It's not a stretch to say the whole financial industry revolves around the compass point of the absolutely safe AAA rating. But the financial crisis happened because AAA ratings stopped being something that had to be earned and turned into something that could be paid for.
What the mortgage bubble was all about was big banks like Goldman Sachs taking big bundles of subprime mortgages that were lent out largely to low-income, highly risky borrowers, and applying this kind of magic-pixie-dust math to these bundles of securities and slapping AAA ratings on them.
In reality, everybody in Congress is a stand-in for some kind of lobbyist. In many cases it's difficult to tell whether it's the companies that are lobbying the legislators or whether it's the other way around.
I think that if you're a thinking person you should always be trying to learn something new.