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RE: [xmca] Inside Job
The whole US policy mechanism is distorted by the influence of private
funding of electoral campaigns. For instance, Clinton, at the start of
his presidency, found out the hard way that trying to enact healthcare
reform against the perceived self-interest of the healthcare industry
was an adventure that could well cost him any chance of reelection.
Obama, in trying to move along policy decisions, is simply acting within
realm of the possible.
While all of this is old had, the corruption of academia is a new and
serious twist. With everything else awry in government and corporate
cultures, the parameters for policy debate are still constrained by
academic discourse. That key economists were bought out shifted the
realm of the possible just enough to enable regulatory supervision to be
knocked out of the picture altogether, a critical underpinning of the
economic debacle. So, Jay, yes, I support your call for academics to
pressure their institutions on strengthening conflict-of-interest
policies related to research and publication. A coordinated national
push in this direction enacted through Faculty Senates could have real
effect in a relatively short time span.
What is more, whoever initiates such a campaign stands to be offered
millions in corporate co-option efforts!
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
On Behalf Of Jay Lemke
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 11:40 PM
To: XMCA Forum
Subject: [xmca] Inside Job
Last night I watched a documentary film on DVD called "Inside Job". I
think that if you haven't seen it, you might well find it worthwhile to
do so, especially if you live in the US.
Basically, the film is an explanation of how the global financial
meltdown of the last 2.5 years happened, combined with an indictment of
the political and financial systems and leaders who made it happen.
On the first count, it's an impressive example of the superiority of
video over print as a medium for explaining complex phenomena. I had a
vague understanding of most of the points it makes about "derivatives"
"credit default swaps" etc., but I understood their nature and
especially their significance in relation to other larger phenomena a
LOT better after a few minutes of video than after all the reading of
print I've done over many months.
On the second count, by putting together in one narrative all the bits
and pieces of facts about this financial company and that politician
that we get in the fragmentation of most print and web-based media
(apart from books), a context was established within which to appreciate
the enormous culpability of not just the greedy traders but of
government non-regulators, policy leaders, and the highest echelons of
Of perhaps special relevant to those of us in academic institutions, it
makes a pretty good case for the corruption of many of the country's
leading academic economists, ranging from undisclosed conflicts of
interest to deliberately distorted research-for-pay.
It points out that it was the US government that was primarily at fault
in abetting the out-of-control exploitation of nearly everyone by a very
small number of profiteering firms, and that the extent of collusion
between senior government officials and those firms was staggering, over
a long period of time and administrations of both political parties, and
has not in any way ended but continues under the Obama administration
Hence, not surprisingly, there have been no major criminal
investigations of securities fraud, conflict of interest, etc. either on
the corporate side or on the government side, in the US. And the recent
financial industry reform act changed nothing basic, nor, I think one
can conclude, was its weakness just a result of Republican opposition
but must have also been a consequence of the continuing collusion of
senior Obama appointees with the financial industry.
As we all know the consequences have relevance for pretty much the whole
What are we in higher education doing to educate students about such
phenomena, which are arguably of far greater importance to their lives
and futures than our specialized subjects? Or to challenge colleagues in
economics departments and business schools on our campuses, at least to
the extent of requiring conflict of interest disclosures in their
After watching this film, I'm not feeling very happy about business as
PS. I got the DVD from Netflix. I think it's definitely worth an hour
and forty-some minutes of your time.
Senior Research Scientist
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California - San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California 92093-0506
Professor (Adjunct status 2009-11)
School of Education
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
City University of New York
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