Doesn't it say something about modernity that, when questioned about their responsibility to disclose the real value of securities they were selling and the positions (i.e., betting that these same securities would fail) they were taking, executives of Goldman Sachs—here standing in for many in financial and other sectors—were unable to think of any sort of responsibility other than legal responsibility? Their defense was that they had not violated the law, so they had done nothing wrong, whatever the effects of their actions on their clients, the national and international economies or indeed whatever their deceptive intentions had been.
Even good old Adam Smith, famed but not sole progenitor of capitalist theory—but whom I doubt would recognize much of what goes on on Wall Street and elsewhere as anything like capitalism—thought that capitalism could only work, could only make sense, could only be justified against a background of shared moral belief and, yes, social justice.
I have often observed in news reports and letters to the editor that people treat guilt or innocence as a kind of Schrödinger's cat, and only a jury can open the box. As if committing an act doesn't make one guilty; being found guilty in a court of law is what makes a person guilty.
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