“Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried… To preserve the system, Wall Street needs a return to more dignity”

“Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried… To preserve the system, Wall Street needs a return to more dignity”

IIt’s time to put the tie back on. Judge for yourself, T-shirt capitalism is collapsing in the United States. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 38, got lost in the alternate world of the metaverse where he gobbled up more than $23 billion; Tesla developer and Space X creator Elon Musk, 51, is sinking into tweets that are more inopportune every day, in turn accelerating the collapse of Tesla stock, down 60% since its highest hit in april. As for Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, who was not content with a T-shirt and added shorts, he languishes in prison, probably for a long time, simply for having diverted the cryptocurrencies of his customers at FTX.

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The tee-shirt, the tee-shirt!, would one be tempted to incriminate, as Toinette accused the lung in Imaginary sick by Moliere. The reproach is less paradoxical than it seems to read the essay written in the Wall Street Journal by Adam Kirsch on “The Rise and Fall of Respectability”. The misguided behavior of these billionaire geeks contrasts with the austerity of the captains of industry of the XIXe century.

There is no question of defending the behavior of the king of steel and father of modern philanthropy, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), who admittedly lived soberly and gave his fortune to build libraries. His Protestant ethic cannot make us forget that he gave starvation wages to his workers and that his second in command, Henry Frick, had the militia charged against the Pittsburgh strikers in 1892 (ten dead). But he inspired a behavior that was respected for decades and made the social order if not acceptable, at least not humiliating.

Money, the ultimate safeguard

Nothing like the XXIe century where, with the help of social networks, 2.0 bosses believe they can do anything: they display their yachts, their sentimental conquests, their obscene whims. If they allow themselves to do so, it is because their backers, the venture capitalists, accept it, even are seduced, convinced that social transgressions reveal an economic transgression which will allow the creative genius to express itself. Adam Kirsch quotes in the Wall Street Journal Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, who claimed to be a vegetarian at a time when this diet seemed incongruous: “At the time, that was enough to signal the rejection of the status quo, which is Silicon Valley’s main directive. »

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Let’s not be naive, in capitalism, you have to be both a little genius and a bit of a thug, to break the established order and make your first tens of millions of dollars with a founding crime, a dubious takeover, a license obtained with interpersonal skills or abused rules. It works as long as it works, but the more it works, the more we raise our guard: the safeguards that are boards of directors become ineffective. So Zuckerberg’s bet on the metaverse is ruining the shareholders of Facebook-Meta for now – if he wants to make such a choice, he could after all launch a start-up; the Bankman-Fried scam was fueled by the greed of its backers, delighted to make a fortune on cryptocurrencies that everyone knows have zero intrinsic value. Finally, Elon Musk’s increasingly Trumpist outings are undermining the Tesla and Twitter brands.

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