The Courage to Speak Out

The statement below made by the eminent economist J.K. Galbraith refers to the excesses on Wall Street that preceded the Great Depression, but it could have been made in our own time. The statement perfectly encapsulates the culture of Wall Street, as we have all found out, bitterly, once again. I am proud that ICBA and the community banking sector did NOT stay silent.

“Even in such a time of madness as the late twenties, a great many men in Wall Street remained quite sane. But they also remained very quiet. The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. Perhaps this is inherent in a community where the primary concern is making money. One of the necessary rules is to live and let live. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise in Wall Street are nearly always silent. The foolish thus have the field to themselves. None rebukes them.” J.K.Galbraith

A corollary to Galbraith’s statement above is the famous statement by Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

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