Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Boring at the time, funnier in retrospect

I wanted to listen to the webcast of this speech to check the content of Spitzer's remarks about his past acquaintance with Elena Kagan, but unfortunately the file won't play. I had forgotten the topic of Spitzer's talk.
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer told an HLS Class Day audience today that self-regulation by corporations and financial institutions has been an “abject failure” and he warned graduating 3Ls not to succumb to hubris or the delusion that they are “Masters of the Universe.”...

Spitzer decried the “moral relativism” of corporate offenders who have tried to convince him not to prosecute them because their conduct was not as egregious as that of their competitors. “What they said to me was, ‘Eliot, you’re right, you’re right in what you allege, but we’re not as bad as our competitors.’ And that, they thought, was a defense!” he told the lunchtime assembly at Jarvis Field. “It was revealing to me because it was symbolic of where our ethical standards had gone. … Moral relativism was being used as an excuse to drop to the lowest common denominator time and time again. Nobody in any of these sectors ever said, ‘we have to stop.’ And that, to me, was very troublesome.”

“I think if you look at the CEOs and the others who have been involved in most of the corporate scandals … they began to think that somehow, the law didn’t reach them, the moral boundaries that every one of us understands didn’t apply to them. And this was captured in a brilliant t-shirt—and I don’t often end by quoting t-shirts, but it was given to me by an investment banker friend of mine, the last one I had—and on the front it said, ‘Hubris is terminal.’”
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