The Envelope Please!
03 March, 2011
The Envelope Please!

The 83rd Academy Awards have come and gone and nothing out of ordinary happened. King’s Speech took the top award as the best picture, Colin Firth won the best actor award and Natalie Portman danced away with her award for the best actress for the Black Swan.
The upset of the night was loss for Bansky, a street artist who has remained anonymous and whom the Academy Awards hoped to draw out with this award. Instead the golden statue went

to a documentary feature film called Inside Job. For those of you who hadn’t seen the Inside Job, it is a powerful film that showcases the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. What’s more appalling in the film is that it shows the crisis could have been prevented if only certain key people hadn’t let greed and narcissism rule over them.
On the IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, storyline section has a fantastic way to describe the Oscar winning film:’ ‘Inside Job’ provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse.”
Amongst the bankers, lobbyists and Alan Greenspan fanatics who seemed to belong in this film, there was awkwardness in finding Professors of top universities in the same pile of garbage. Finding out that prestige can be bought is not likely to be news to anyone. But the degree to which the system let these Academics get away with blatant lies, which they masqueraded as supreme knowledge, was positively obscene.
Larry Summers, who worked as a director of the National Economic Council and later returned to Harvard having once been President and then later demoted to the position of a professor, is probably the film’s best example of greed and ego spiraling out of control. Dismissing anyone who warned of bonus culture getting out of hand, for voicing opinions that deregulation was not a safe practice, he was able to rule with likeminded people. He was after all in company of Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geitner and Ben Bernake. He dismissed any attempt by Brooksley Born, then a chair of the Commodity Futures trading Commission, to regulate the derivatives that were the eventual cause of the housing market crash. In fact, he banned all of the regulations of derivatives. Perhaps he believed in what he was doing, perhaps. But more likely, being a member of an old boys club, as he was and Brooksley Born being a woman was just not enough to convince him she had anything worthwhile to contribute. Eventually, this way of thinking cost Summers his job and he was let go from his position as the president of Harvard after suggesting in a speech that women might be innately inferior to men at scientific work.
But why do academics get it wrong? Are they simply not smart enough, or is there some other factor?
Take into account that Larry Summers has a net worth of $17million to 39 million. He makes his money giving lectures and receives as much as $135,000.00 for one speech at Goldman Sachs. When things look strange, the other factor is always money. Other academic followed. Martin Feldstein, a Harvard professor, has been on the board of AIG, yes the one that was bailed out by the taxpayers, and AIG Financial Products. They paid him $6 million and he destroyed the company from within, with the help of those pesky derivatives. The favorite academic is by far Frederic Mishkin, who was a professor at the Columbia Business School and member of the Federal Reserve Board for two years between 2006 and 208. He was actually paid off by the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce to produce a paper praising the regulatory and banking systems. Mishkin wrote the paper, Icelandic bank collapsed and the rest is history. Mishkin’s net worth is $6 to 17million. Not too shabby for a cretin professor. And there are many more where these names came from.
Larry Summers, Frederic Mishkin and all their cronies turned out to be nothing more than big time scammers. There is no difference between them and the guy who sent out fake Green Card emails to hopeful Georgians. The only difference visible is that while Summers sold faulty goods for $135,000.00 a night, the Green Card scammer made of with $880.00 per person. It wasn’t even that good of a trick on Mr. Frank Kovachevic’s part (that’s whom the payments were supposed to be sent to for Green Cards). The scam emails asked for Western Union transfers to London as a payment for a United States Green Card. What does London have to do with hading out US documents? And the best line of these emails is “If you are unable to find a Western Union agency near your location, you may ask a relative or friend to pay the fee on your behalf.” May I, really?   Clearly he wasn’t too concerned with people figuring it out to be a scam. And he was right, a lot of people wanted to believe it and fell for the fake Green Card. Just as people wanted to believe that someone as highly influential as a Harvard president wouldn’t be quite as stupid as Summers turned out to be.
So, who is worse, a man who is a criminal and doesn’t even pretend to hide it? Or the pretentious know-it-all backed by a highly regarded academic institution, a man who thinks he is too smart to be caught in a lie? And the Oscar goes to…

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