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comment by blackbootz
blackbootz  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 11, 2017

Something unusual has developed for me. I might get an internship (which is tantamount to a job) at Morgan Stanley.

The prospect of working for a Wall Street firm is causing massive cognitive dissonance. Now while I don't have a comprehensive understanding of which bad Wall Street actors were baddest (is Morgan Stanley worse than, say, Wells Fargo? Bear Stearns?), I can't shake the feeling that they'd all absolutely plunder the world if they could. The cold-blooded profit-seeking that is a hallmark of those firms reminds me of the narrator from Fight Club describing his job:

    A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

I might be getting way ahead of myself. I haven't even done the interview, let alone completed the internship and gotten a full-time offer. But. I did have a casual and free-ranging half hour conversation with the hiring manager at an information session yesterday, wherein we discussed the merits of Dodd-Frank, the role of good writing in creating company policy, and some Baltimore history (they have an office here that is expanding). We were downright chummy by the end of it. And also, his division is the one I'm most interested in: legal & compliance. Specifically the global financial crimes unit. You know, where they bust white collar crime. Maybe this might be worth it? (nota bene: the GFC unit protects the firm first, not Main Street. It's not an analog to the FBI, but it's an interesting start.)

***

In other news, my gymnastics floor routine is coming together. I haven't performed in fifteen years, but the skills are all coming back--today I started add a twist to my back layout. I think a teammate took a video, I'll see if I can scrounge it.

Found it.




snoodog  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I say go for it join the evil empire and be like the rest of them steal everything that's not nailed down, if it is nailed down grab the crow bar. Seriously if you don't loot my pension fund someone else will and I'd rather you get your cut.

The thing to be careful is to not get sucked into that cycle where you keep needing more money to sustain a lifestyle. Get in, do your time then get out before you burn out

blackbootz  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks dog. It is very kind of you to offer me to help myself to your pension.

    The thing to be careful is to not get sucked into that cycle where you keep needing more money to sustain a lifestyle. Get in, do your time then get out before you burn out

That's what they say: stay off that hedonic treadmill. I have some practice living and being happy on the cheap, but I wouldn't be the first one to escalate my spending and think it perfectly justified. I'll definitely try to keep it under control. Live independently and retire early.

rd95  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

To counter _refugee_, I think there's a difference between knowing you're an unwilling participant in the system and knowing that you're more active than most in perpetuating the system. Now, I'm not saying "Go all anarchist" or anything, but I am saying that, if for example, you think systemic debt is part of the reason for some of society's ills, maybe you'd want to consider whether or not your job is counter to your values.

I know a guy who used to work at a gunshop, until he turned Buddhist. I also know a few conservative Muslims and Christians that work in grocery or restaurants and have to ask their coworkers to sell alcohol in their place because it's against their beliefs. You're not gonna see a pacifist join the military, you're not gonna see a vegan work at a slaughterhouse, etc. etc.

So the real question is, where do you want to put your boundaries, and why?

_refugee_  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So., what I would say to that is, do all Wall Street jobs necessarily perpetuate a negative, harmful system?

Cuz I'd say I really don't think so. And I guess that's part of the reason I'm not fond of gallows-dwelling artists -- just because you work for a bank doesn't mean you're doing bad things, or hurting people. So it's possible to work for "the man" without being "the man," I guess. Or while trying to be a better version of him.

rd95  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hmm. I'd say it's best to look these things in layers. Let's skip Wall Street and Banking in specifics, not because I'm willing or unwilling to discuss them, but because I don't want you to think I'm digging against you or your peers.

Let's take environmentalism and consuming beef as an example. I'm gonna exaggerate and over simplify, but it's for the sake of illustration. Beef is more nuanced, just like banking, after all. I'm also taking this from a perspective that "Beef = Bad" which I wouldn't take in real life, but once again, this is just for illustrative purposes.

Cattle farming has a ton of problems. As far as resources needed to produce beef compared to calories actually received, it's woefully inefficient. It's a cause for deforestation in the Amazon. Our inflated demand for it is a cause for factory farming. It's a cause for uneven international trade deals where some people come out on top and some people definitely don't. I could go on, and on.

If we were to say that the beef industry is a source of social ill, it would make sense that we could say the guys at the top are the most culpable for blame. They're the ones who make the business decisions that lead to deforestation, exploitative trade practices, etc. etc. They have the most power, their activities have the most impact, they have the most responsibility to behave in a proper and socially productive manner.

The guys who cut down the forest? The guys who work industrial farms? They're also engaging in immoral behavior that leads to environmental damages and animal suffering. While they're not making the most important decisions, they play a crucial role in the industry. We can also say that while they're doing this for a job and might not have better options, maybe what they're doing isn't the most healthy thing for the world around them. They may not be worthy of condemnation, but they may not be angels either. Their actions though, support the guys at the top, and perpetuate the beef industry.

The guys who sell the beef? The restaurants and grocery stores? They're a lot lower on the totem pole. This time though, they're getting to be pretty distant from the source. They're not making policy decisions. They're not actively deforesting the rain forest. But, at the same time, they play a crucial role between the people who produce beef and the people who consume it. They're still supporting a socially unhealthy industry.

So what about the guys who purchase the beef? They don't make policy decisions. They don't cut down forests. Heck, they don't even sell the beef. All they want is a damn, good burger. On the one hand, they're not actively doing any of the potentially immoral behavior as listed above. On the other hand, it's their active demand for beef that necessitates a need for the beef industry to begin with.

So the question becomes then, like I addressed to blackbootz, where do you draw your moral lines, and why? At the top? Somewhere in the middle? Or if at all possible, do you try to cut yourself out of the equation completely? How much do you want morality to factor into things? How much do you want practicality to factor into things? When you know that the consequences of your actions aren't binary, but complex and layered and constantly in flux, isn't it often less about any individual choice you make and more about the position you put yourself in that affects the choices you can make?

_refugee_  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Is it really so cognitively dissonant? We buy into Wall Street every day. Even the most green, organic, anti-vaxxer out there has a bank account. Or a credit card. Or a loan of some sort. A 401(k)?

Sure, right now you might not literally have-a-job-there-work-at-it, but you & your money already feed Wall Street every day.

OftenBen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    We buy into Wall Street every day.

Grudgingly, and mostly because we don't really have any other option though. There's no wilderness left for me to go and try and make a Little House on the Prairie go of things.

_refugee_  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Certainly doesn't undo my point. If you're honest with yourself, how is working for Wall Street any more off-putting than what you already do? Might as well get paid well while you're doing it. I mean, Wall Street's living off of you - might as well as not live off of them, eh?

I just don't have very much tolerance for "sticking to one's artistic morals and refusing to work for the Man" when hey, you already work for the man, and b, all that really means is feeling proud of yourself for getting paid a pittance without sick time off, health insurance, or 10 federal holidays a year.

blackbootz  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I just don't have very much tolerance for "sticking to one's artistic morals and refusing to work for the Man" when hey, you already work for the man, and b, all that really means is feeling proud of yourself for getting paid a pittance without sick time off, health insurance, or 10 federal holidays a year.

No, you're right. While I admire people who live by their principles, I don't pity starving artists. (I'll just buy some art.) My lack of pity probably stems from the fact that Baltimore is so goddamn filled with them..

By not collecting a paycheck, there's a very plausible deniability that helps assuage cognitive dissonance. And I have a rather comforting amount of plausible deniability that I'd be trading in. I don't think I'll be too hard on myself but I don't know if that's a rationalization or a reasonable conclusion.

kleinbl00  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The prospect of working for a Wall Street firm is causing massive cognitive dissonance.

fistbump