No real genius at the top, just ruthless privilege


You often hear egregious chatter by apologists for the wealthy, conspicuously mouthed by puppeteers of the rich, who almost exclusively come from the Republican Party. They say that the opulent are the ultimate god-given product of a meritocracy. The corporate executives (like Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase, for example) are the brightest, the most gifted, and the hardest-working and smartest members of American society – largely composed of elitist job creators. Anyone, they mellifluously say, who works hard can get rich.

Such praise is necessary to not only justify the tight allegiance of the GOP to the needs of the rich but also to taint the fountain from which common knowledge is drawn, in other words to convince the masses that they are not getting screwed.

Such chatter is designed to convince you that if you aren’t rich you are someone in the infamous realm of lazy deadbeat. Such derision for the less fortunate was a common theme of Republicans who ran for President in 2012.

The truth is something else entirely.

Those who earn millions, even billions, in a year, certainly aren’t stupid, but do fit into a particular realm in which other contributing factors are as important, maybe more important, in their accumulation of wealth than are their talents and intelligence.

First there is a personality type that becomes a corporate executive, Hedge Fund Manager, or Wall Street trader. It is no surprise that politicians also score high in that same personality trait. The most basic trait is that of a psychopathic personality, not the criminal psychopath but the functional – one with great avarice, superficial charm, egocentric tendencies, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, ruthlessness, independence, and fearlessness. According to The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton, those in business management seem to have the largest number of psychopathic attributes. Psychopathic traits seem to have more of a direct correlation to those singularly bent on acquiring wealth and power than any other group.

Academics and even business leaders recognize the personality traits and business practices that nearly brought down the world economy. Clive Boddy, former professor at Nottingham Business School in Journalism and Business Ethics, contends that it’s psychopaths that are the root of all trouble, taking advantage of the “chaotic nature of modern corporations.” They use the artifice of charm and charisma to garner power and render “their behavior invisible” and make them “appear normal and even to be ideal leaders.”

Such psychopaths were to blame for the global financial crisis because “their single-minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment took precedence over any real notion of corporate social responsibility.” Indeed Jan Moulton, London’s successful venture capitalist, lists determination, curiosity and insensitivity as his 3 most valuable character traits.

A society can be re-fashioned to give such personality types a stupendous advantage over all others. It is no accident that the American society has become the most inequitable country among advanced countries since the time of Ronald Reagan. Opportunity has been stifled, average wages have been cut, the power of unions smothered, jobs exported, and money has become the mother milk of elections. Economic rewards have steadily shifted to the highly sterile pursuits, namely Wall Street and more specifically to the hedge fund crap shoot.

The latter point leads to another important fact. Huge advantages have been handed to the very rich. Deregulation and government coddling have imparted huge rewards to the connected: subsidies to monolithic corporations, government contracts, and tax breaks to the fat cats. The media became corporate-centered and consequently divorced from the role of informing the people.

In fact, corporations were allowed to get so big that failure was not an option. Bailout not only protected huge banks but also bailed out executives regularly dealing in criminal activities and/or fraud. The fact is that Wall Street operatives, including hedge fund managers and corporate executives, down to mid-level managers, were in effect given carte blanche cards of entitlement. The permissive atmosphere leading up to the financial collapse in 2008 assured that high risk and speculation for the so-called high-intellect bankers would be fully rewarded and absent of risk, not only for money loss but also later prosecution for crimes.

The corporate culture continues to erode into a crap shoot with house odds heavily in favor of top management, assured by a bought and paid for government leadership, purchased by wealthy elite throughout the nation at most levels of government.

If you were heavily subsidized, exempt from prosecution, not investigated by a corporate media, and made millions per year with risky, many times fraudulent and unethical ventures, and you were assured of a low-risk of personal failure, criminal prosecution, and litigation against you, wouldn’t you feel entitled to the caption of genius?

After all, top executives took our money and successfully rewarded themselves with bonuses after they almost tanked the global economy.

Maybe they are evil geniuses — or just psychopaths whom we empower.


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  1. The 3 rating agencies — Moody’s, Standard and Poor, and Fitch Group — should have been included in the group of carrions who gave AAA ratings to Wall Street firms with worthless paper in exchange for money prior to the 2008 crash. They continue to sell high ratings to major bankers like Wells Fargo, B of A, Chase, and Goldman Sachs. Matt Taibi did a revealing report on them in Rolling Stone.

  2. I thought, by the title of this article, you were talking about politics…..

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