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On Swashbuckling

We shouldn’t withhold from our modern-day pirates

By James M. Larkin, None

A word with regard to the situation I’m sure is on all of our minds: We have to turn over the money. I know that’s a bitter pill to swallow, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. The deed is done and we’re up a creek without this move.

It would not be wrong to suggest there are a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t pay these swashbucklers their ransom money. Would that there was a way to dispense with the problem more surgically and without having to spend a dime. But alas, this is a potentially explosive global situation, the sixties are over, and sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and open your wallet—wide.

And the number of Google searches for ‘moral hazard’ tripled in the last few weeks for a reason. Think of the precedent this would set: We’re enabling an entire prospective wave of pillaging, leveraging money-chasers, some of whom will no doubt imperil us again one day.

I understand any hesitation. It’s a lot of zeros. We could do great things with that money; instead, we’re sinking it into the preservation of a very unsavory little community. Consider the infighting, the bacchanalia, the apparent inward stirring of drink-soaked, greedy chaos—all inexpertly tucked behind their spokesperson’s calming veneer. People are calling for these men’s heads, and the bucks certainly haven’t made it any easier on themselves: their insouciance, their apparent lack of contrition and the nonchalance with which they roll the dice with the lives and means of innocent people, alien to them.

But, as I say, we haven’t got a choice: Those very innocent people are being held hostage at the moment, and we can’t allow that danger to go unmitigated for much longer. Plus, you cannot underestimate the folks with whom we’re dealing. They’re totally broke, living and working in the most tumultuous and inhospitable environment imaginable. Their life has been effectively lawless for years. This is a world in which, recently, every day in business may be your last, where mismatched games of chicken are played with major international powers. In these unstable times, better that we avoid a tangle with these nothing-to-lose daredevils and give them what they want—if only to save our own souls.

At the end of the day, no, this major investment will not pleasantly surprise us in a few years. We’re not going to look back fondly, grateful that we were placed in a situation where we had to cough up to pirates or face catastrophe. But that’s the way the cookie’s crumbled. We should have seen this coming in the eighties, and the nineties; now it’s too late. We know ur attempts to intervene can go badly; this time we should just write the check and part ways. Let the daredevils be, so to speak.

There’s even a kind of respect for the fellows, down on their luck as they are. They’re almost anachronisms, like highwaymen, egoistic outlaws from a distant past. They see an opportunity for gain, and take it; they are Overmen, perpetually transcending the mundane. Maybe that’s the best reason for bailing the financial industry out: They’re exciting—like modern-day pirates, only better.

James M. Larkin ’10, a Crimson associate editorial chair, is a social studies concentrator in Quincy House.

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