I find the news of the apparent demise of Lehman Brothers as sad as it is alarming. Back in the days when things like this could still be done, my grandfather worked his way up from the mailroom at Lehman Brothers to eventually retire as a partner 49 years later. Since then the company has been sold, merged, spun off, deregulated and repurposed so many times that it’s hardly the place where he used to work. Still, in my mind, the name “Lehman Brothers” has always had a certain perennial esteem, and it’s a shame to see it tumble.
The current Wall Street crisis has me thinking about a conversation I had in the first few days of law school. At a graduate school mixer I was chatting all about how excited I was to go to law school so I could be able to go out and do some good in the world. I was talking to a BUSL tax LLM, who basically said in so many words, “I don’t care what happens to other people, as long as I make money.”
Perhaps if fewer sociopaths like him were out there taking unbridled risks with other people’s money to feed their personal ambitions the rest of us wouldn’t be forced to bear the costs of their failures.