Michael Lewis Explores the Free Market and Morality

Question: Does the free market corrode moral character?

Lewis:    Well, you know, it’s funny you said that because I don’t think of greed as exactly the problem on Wall Street.  I think greed is sort of professional obligation on Wall Street.  I mean, not being greedy on Wall Street is like not wanting to be funny for a comedian.  If you’re there, you got to want to make money.  And the problem is, when the greedy people are wrongly incentivized so that instead of being incentivized to take really smart, long-term risks, they’re incentivized to take huge risks so that if they work out even the short-term, they get paid huge sums of money, and if they don’t work out, it’s not their problem.  They can walk away from it.  I think, if the system of incentives was right, the greed wouldn’t matter.  The greed would be properly channeled.  The greed is the fuel and it just needs to be properly channeled.  And so I think that the premise, I think, of your question is, if people were just better people.  If people were less self-interested, this wouldn’t have happened.  That might be true.  It’s moot because the kind of people that are [ganging up] on Wall Street are never going to be not self-interested.  [It’s not happening].  So, you just got to be very careful about the incentives that control that greed.  Having said all that, I don’t want to contradict myself entirely, but it is one of the forces underpinning this debacle is the changing financial expectations of the people who are in Wall Street, it’s a little bit different from greed, but it’s what they consider to be a normal sum of money to make.  And if everybody is operating with the assumption that the normal big payday is a million dollars, they do behave one way.  If they all operate with the assumption that the normal big payday is a hundred million dollars or even a billion dollars, well, they behave in other way, and the other way they behave is by taking a lot more risks, ‘cause the only you generate those sums of money is by taking huge, huge risks.  So, there was this thing that happened in the Wall Street mind over the last 25 years where that just the level of financial expectations is a little different from greed.  It’s the sort of like the level of it, what are we supposed to change, and what we’re going through right now is a radical downward readjustment.

Michael Lewis says greed is a prerequisite on Wall Street.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.