Reprinted from the blog at the Gainesville Times, by Mike Parker on November 28, 2008.

My father calls it greed. Greed seems like too simple of an word to me. The word for excessive pride is hubris.

“Hubris is a term used in modern English to indicate overweening pride, self-confidence, superciliousness, or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution. In ancient Greece, hubris referred to actions which, intentionally or not, shamed and humiliated the victim, and frequently the perpetrator as well. It was most evident in the public and private actions of the powerful and rich. The word was also used to describe actions of those who challenged the gods or their laws, especially in Greek tragedy, resulting in the protagonist’s downfall.”

Some listed hubris as the greatest sin in ancient Greece.

We are not ancient Greeks, no matter how much we might like to tie our government to ancient and once democratic Athens. Unlike Athens, we have the latest greatest version of commercial banking in the world. That system of commercial banking may be the the American Trojan Horse.

Our Trojan Horse isn’t filled with Greek warriors ready to open our gated walls to invaders. Our potential invaders have already been revealed as mortgage instruments that flew out the backside of the poisoned horse.

We have seen the poisoned residential mortgages kill huge hybrid banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and some huge insurance companies. With the fall of our once secure financial protections, our pensions are deleted, our nest eggs that would have sustained us during the long siege of old age.

The security of our old age and our current lives must endure the failure or attack by commercial mortgage instruments. Those poisonous hybrid papers will kill malls and shopping centers before killing or wounding our communities.

In the aftermath of 1929, we built our walls for financial security by isolating banks from hybrid paper dealers and insurance companies. That isolation protected bank depositors and limited irresponsible lending.

Our hubris tore down the walls, ended the protective isolation, and packed the poison paper into our self made Trojan Horse.

We named our self made horse and worshiped it. We danced in celebration like fools, expecting our horse to protect us.

But what will protect us from our hubris? What price retribution?

Ask the horse we named The Market. It will answer with silent echoes, the only answer it ever had, a measure of its wisdom, and the final monument to greed.

Bush and the Republicans fed $5 trillion dollars to the horse over an eight year period. During that time, the only economic growth was in the housing industry. Both the horse and the housing industry were eating borrowed money.

In the last months of the Bush era, billions in bailouts added to the feed bill. We should remember that the Market horse never fed itself as we shovel out the empty stall.

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