I was discussing a blog I read here on AR with my husband. The author was making a case for NO financial regulation, stating that he believed that the financial institutions would never again do what they have done to get us into this mess. Really?
My husband referred to the large banks as captive lions. After discussing the idea with him, I think he has stumbled onto a clever analogy. So of course I felt the need to take the idea through to it's logical end. Maybe there is one of Terry Chenier's odd children's books in here.
Why a captive lion? Because the argument can be made that a captive lion, conceived and born into captivity, cannot survive in the wild. Rather than a natural being (subject to the opportunities and obstacles in nature,) it is a product of that captivity and relies on its captors for its survival.
So here we go...
The lion (large financial institution) lives in a town. The town relies on the lion for much of its livelihood. It brings business and commerce to the town enabling the townsfolk to survive and many times thrive.
Concerned about restricting such a valuable asset to the town, the townspeople started to allow the lion to roam freely through the town doing as it pleases. This went on for quite a while as more and more barriers that had been in place for the protection of the town were removed to provide the lion with more freedom. Every once in a while the lion would trample on someone's flowers, scratch up a few buildings and maybe even eat a pet or two. The town put up with these events since they believed their very livelihood was at stake if they ever restricted the lion. But then one day it happened. The lion's darker instincts kicked in, he trashed the town and ate a few townspeople.
Insert financial meltdown here.
Everyone was understandably disturbed. They blamed each other. They cursed the lion. They beat the lion. They even locked him up and locked up a few people they deemed responsible for the mess.
After all, he IS a lion. That is what lions do.
...But the town needs the lion. Their entire system is based on the lion, so they ponder what to do next.
One group wants to lock the lion in a 10' by 10' cage with extra strong steel bars and throw away the key so that there is absolutely no way he can escape and eat any more people. However, we know from the experience of old fashioned zoos that the lion will eventually succumb to this captivity and die.
Where will that leave the town which relies so heavily on the lion?
One group reminisces about the good times they had before this terrible event. They tout that if they are all just a little more careful, it surely will not happen again. They worry about the effect restrictions will have on the lion and the town's prosperity. They put their blinders on, tell everyone to ignore the steps that led them to this situation and say that the lion has learned his lesson. After the beating he took, he wouldn't dare do it again.
The last group knows that a captive lion is still a lion. It needs barriers to keep it from viewing everyone as prey and giving in to its darker instincts. They propose something in line with a natural setting type zoo. This would give the lion enough room to roam and thrive, but would be enclosed with large strong barriers (with enforcement teeth of its own) to prevent another tragedy.
So here we are.
Do we forget about the past and let the lion roam free again and just cross our fingers that he doesn't eat any more people?
Do we lock him up?
Do we construct a setting that will allow it to thrive (even prosper,) but keep it from thriving at the expense of the people?
Of course, the town could also begin to consider something other than a “lion based” economy, but that's another story.
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