Opinion: Sex makes the financial meltdown more understandable


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Amid the rubble of credit default swaps, AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities and other such not-so-easily-understood financial miscreants, we finally have a villain in this mess most of us can appreciate, and perhaps even an explanation for how Bernie Madoff built a $60-billion Ponzi scheme uninhibited by federal regulators: Porn.

The Associated Press reports:


Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission following reports that senior agency staffers spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were supposed to be policing the nation’s financial system. ...

The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed. ...

The memo was written by SEC Inspector General David Kotz in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). It summarizes past inspector general probes and reports some shocking findings:
• A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard-drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.

Eight hours a day? Let’s hope the commission’s senior attorneys aren’t paid by the hour.

But really, before the next bubble and financial meltdown, perhaps the SEC should hire more women.


-- Paul Thornton