A new study says four percent of our
nation's execs have a mental problem.
According to a study by New York psychologist Paul Babiak, four percent of our nation’s business execs are psychopaths, compared to only one percent in the regular population.
How could this happen? According to Babiak, psychopaths are simply good actors, good at manipulation, charm, and intimidation. They are also extremely charismatic individuals who like risk taking. They also have no conscience, show little empathy for others and have the ability to read body language, and can actually “get inside your head.”
Babiak and University of British Columbia professor Bob Hare, the world’s preeminent expert in psychopathic mental disease devised an 111-point questionnaire and gave the test to various business leaders. The results were revealed in a documentary “Are You Good or Evil?” televised by BBC2.
So, how do you tell the difference between a talented young executive and a psychopath? Babiak says brain scans for psychopaths are similar. So how do you get a high-flying exec to take a brain scan? Tell the conceited jerk he/she has an exceptionally high I.Q. and you want to see what areas of his/her brain are different than the regular population. That’s my idea, not Babiak’s. Hey, cops can lie to crooks to get a confession, why not scientists?
We’ve got a corporate raider running for president and another who told the Wall Street Occupiers to “Get a Job” and to “Take a Bath” as if they were all just a bunch of hippies. The Wall Street Occupiers include senior citizens, union members, blue collar workers, and students. When the Tea Party Activists spit on black congressmen, sent used condoms to congresswomen, shouted down democratic candidates during town hall meetings and debates, and threatened to kill Joe McGinniss who was writing a book about Sarah Palin that was fine with Gingrich. When the Wall Street Occupiers try the same tactics they are removed by the police and sometimes arrested when they refuse to move.
Let’s look at some other questionable activities. Why in the world is gasoline so expensive when there seems to be an adequate supply in America? I recently read that America is now exporting crude oil to other countries. Gas in Minnesota, where I live, is now at $3.25. Why are we exporting oil? Because oil companies can get more money from South America. Why do they need a pipe line extending from Canada all the way down to Texas, endangering an aquifer in Nebraska? Why can’t they build a refinery in, say, North Dakota? Seems like there’s a lot of oil in North Dakota these days and it needs to be refined. The last oil refinery built in the USA was in 1976 and they actually closed one down in the Midwest for refitting during Hurricane Katrina rocketing gas prices to over four dollars. Then there are the Golden Sachs and Morgan Stanley People who at one time controlled 80% of oil futures. These are the very people we bailed out with TARP money. Goldman Sachs also got insurance money from AIG for their risky business ventures. There are some familiar names associated with Goldman Sachs. Henry Paulson, Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, Jon Corzine who ran New Jersey into the ground and is now in trouble for mismanaging MF Global to the tune of over a billion dollars. Hundreds of money managers were mismanaging mortgage firms and bankers were investing in something called derivatives. But the GOP blames it all on government, especially Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were semi-independent companies run by the same type of people who ran the banks on Wall Street.
I’m wondering if megalomania and psychopathology are related. Steve Jobs had the audacity to tell President Obama he wasn’t being supportive enough to business. This is the guy who teamed with Steve Wozniak to form Apple and develop MacIntosh; he also tried to screw Wozniak out of his share of the resulting millions and refused to give one of the other “garage geeks” any of the profit sharing. This despite the fact that Jobs never learned code and let Bill Gates beat him out of a contract with IBM with an inferior product. Jobs went on to take a Disney idea, Pixar, and develop that into billions. And nobody seems to have a problem with a new operating system every couple of years or a new iPhone every couple of months. Another one of the business leaders Obama met with told him that his only obligation was to his stock holders. It seems to me that corporate raiders have taken over the business psyche. Do they teach this stuff in business schools? Why lay off your workers at the first sign of a recession when you know that’s going to make matters worse? Your monkey-see-monkey-do competition sees you doing it, and he lays off his people, too, and pretty soon everybody’s doing it. The problem is those people you laid off are your customers. Your fat cat executive buddies don’t spend their money on the staples you make. They buy luxury goods to show off how successful they are to their former classmates. I’m talking about people like Rick Santelli, who thought it was so terrible that TARP offered people a chance to renegotiate their mortgages that he went on a Howard Beale type rant which wound up on YouTube and led to the formation of the Tea Party. Santelli covered Wall Street goings on as a Chicago journalist but his lifestyle depended on business as usual on Wall Street. Here’s a quote from Thomas Frank, author of the upcoming book on how conservatives managed to hijack the 2010 elections, PITY THE BILLIONAIRE: “(Traders) are people who buy and sell abstract commodities. They make nothing. They move nothing (except prices). They are the financial industry distilled down to its grasping essence.” In other words, they’re gamblers. Bucket shops are now legal on Wall Street. You can bet on whether a stock rises or falls without owning it. There’s this thing called a super computer that makes bets on stocks. It runs on a mathematical algorithm, much like derivatives. No humans are involved. If a stock has been down for ten days it buys; if a stock has been up for ten days, it sells. The viability of the company has nothing to do with it. It has already caused a 600 point drop in the Dow at least once. One of the big reasons the mortgage bubble burst was because the regulators weren’t regulating. Republicans would have you believe that the new financial regulations would harm business incentive. They have been fighting them ever since they were instituted. Obama finally appointed Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Protection Bureau during a senate recess because the GOP refused to confirm him. His job means exactly what it says. He will try to makes sure Wall Street doesn’t lose your IRA money. The GOP is never bothered by a business bubble bursting. Booms and recessions are just part of the way they do business. Except some people end up homeless and its hardly ever them.
Personally I would like to see politicians take Babiak’s test. It should be a requirement. How else are we supposed to trust these people? The Greedy Old Politicians nominated a woman for vice president who doesn’t even believe in democracy, read a newspaper, or know who Paul Revere was. She’s a theocrat who believes the United States would be better off with a religious government. Problem is the first amendment guarantees us freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion. The Founding Fathers were no dummies; they remembered what happened in Salem Massachusetts in 1694 when witches were hanged and during the interregnum when Oliver Cromwell tried to push Puritanism down the throats of the English. If McCain had been elected, we would have been only a heartbeat away from having this potential psychopath as president. Certainly she has no empathy for the poor, and she didn’t have a problem with putting a target on Gabby Gifford’s head.
What we need is a kinder gentler business environment. Hire a Warren Buffet, not a Mitt Romney. Buffet is giving away half of his fortune. So is Bill Gates. Bill Gates cares about Africa. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. And according to Joe McGinnis she doesn’t like colored people of any stripe. She fired all the minorities on the staff of the previous governor. She left the University of Hawaii because she couldn’t stand being around all of those brown people.
Why not offer meritorious promotion? Why can’t a laborer work his way up to executive status? Why not offer flex time? As long as you get your work done, who cares? We have this thing called a cell phone these days and you can reach people easily via e-mail if you really need them to be at work. Offer them profit sharing and give them a change to offer input at least once a week. Thomas Edison had a second grade education. He didn’t need to go to business school to learn how to apply what he learned as a telegraph operator to the stock ticker and eventually other applications. Japan used many of these ideas to beat the stuffing out of our auto industry. Their economic crash had nothing to do with their factory environment.
When I first heard one out of 26 bosses were psychopaths, I thought they meant “sociopaths.” I’ve had plenty of bosses without consciences. But for a while there we had a business environment were execs actually helped employees they laid off get another job or at least further their education so they could get one. What happened to that zeitgeist? Was it the Michael Douglas movie where Gordan Gecko said, “Greed is good”?