Half of you are yelling at me, “We’re not exceptional! Dying country, nothing good about us, oligarchs! democracy down the toilet, racism, Ron DeSantis, bank failures, MAGA, blah blah blah!!!” (I wrote “blah blah blah” not because I was running out of what you’re telling me; I just want to get on with this little story, which to many of you might come as a shock.)
You yellers are the half of us who are pessimists. Whenever something bad happens, your heartrending moans about how everything is awful rise into the skies like a Chinese spy balloon. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, picking up good stuff.
One aspect of American exceptionalism is our (your, really) aptitude at criticizing America. Is there another country where denizens so regularly trash everything about it? Well, maybe Russia, but we don’t get to hear much of their bitterness because Russia doesn’t have a First Amendment.
We do and, man, do we use it!
Before you read what follows, let’s all recall that when the worldwide economy went into the international fantods in 2008, what kicked it off did not generate from America itself; it was an American company’s London office where freewheeling banking experiments in crazy derivatives went further haywire.
While reading that great aforementioned New Yorker article by Ben Taub about the outrageous German fraud apparently inherent in a company called Wirecard, I came upon this peripheral note in a discussion Taub had with Paul Murphy, the Financial Times editor who commissioned the investigation by writer Dan McCrum.
“In finance, globally, you have a situation where the only effective police are the Americans,” Paul Murphy told me. “Our regulators–they’re out to lunch. Incompetent, mainly.” He added, “What you’ll find, say, here in London is that you can be a crook, stealing money from people around the world. As long as you’re not stealing from people in Britain, you can do anything.”
“…the only effective police are the Americans.”