How Freedom of Speech Relates to the Financial Crisis
After recently watching the documentary “Inside Job,” a movie explaining what actually caused the 2008 credit crisis, I began to think about what freedom of speech really means.
For those who have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it. But for the purposes of this blog, I want to focus on one of the causes of the crisis mentioned in the film. Large investment banks (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, etc.) were purposely providing their investors with information and recommendations to put their money into investments that they knew were poor. After doing so, they would bet against the investment and make money off of their customers. Pretty crazy, right?
Well what’s even crazier is that they have not been punished at all for their actions. They got away from the financial meltdown with hardly any dents to their wallets while legal action has not been taken against these executives. Part of the reason why they haven’t been charged with any crimes is that in their congressional hearings, when they were accused of betting against their own recommendations, they played dumb and acted like it never happened. Here is one of my personal favorite videos from the hearing. Yes, I know 4 minutes seems like an eternity in youtube world but at least watch the first minute.
This brings me to my inquiry about freedom of speech and liberty. What truly defines a freedom to say anything you want? There was no contract between the investment bank and its customers saying that it is the bank’s job to always provide them with their best recommendations. Many of the executives that are under fire are now claiming that that isn’t even their job, and that their responsibility is to simply provide their customers with information.
This is without a doubt unethical but at what point does an unethical opinion go from simply expressing one’s right of freedom of speech to a crime that someone should be punished for after it harms families all over the world.
Where should the line be drawn? Is it even possible to draw this line?