The London Paper – 17 Mar 2008
‘Woe to you scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites … for you shall receive the greater damnation’. I don’t know what St Matthew had against the poor old scribes and Pharisees (who always seemed such nice folk to me) but I do understand his gripes regarding hypocrites. It’s our collective disgust at self-righteous buffoons who take the moral high ground and are then revealed to be lying, unethical tossers that makes us particularly relish their downfall. This fact explains the vitriol meted out to Elliot Spitzer, the Governor of New York State, who resigned last week having been exposed for his involvement in a prostitution ring. Cityboys across the Square Mile have been laughing into their beers such was the general contempt Spitzer was held in – especially when it was revealed that he had left such an obvious paper trail for investigators to follow. I mean, paying for prozzers with a credit card, really. He’d never make it as a stockbroker!
Mr Spitzer’s dramatic fall from grace would not have elicited such unbridled media glee had he not spent such a large amount of time promoting his reputation as ‘Mr Clean’ whilst berating others for their ethical deficiencies. ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ said Jesus, and though I don’t profess to be au fait with the Bible a $4000 tryst in a hotel room with some bird called ‘Kristen’ probably constitutes a sin even in these permissive times.
Spitzer rose to celebrity when, as Attorney General for New York, he took the unusual decision to employ little-used State (rather than Federal) powers to investigate the wrong-doing that was so prevalent in Wall Street in the late nineties. Hence, it was Spitzer who sued the numerous banks that had advised clients to invest in ridiculous internet companies despite knowing they were utter rubbish in order to not jeopardize their firms’ prospects of garnering lucrative corporate work from said companies. In 2002 he successfully forced banks to pay a $1.4bn ‘Global Settlement’ fine.
Predictably, my Wall Street pals tell me that brokers at banks across Wall Street cheered effusively when the news of Spitzer’s wrongdoing flashed across their Reuters screens last Monday. This was somewhat explained by Spitzer’s legendarily vast ego. However, the main reason was because his actions and the tighter financial regulation associated with him are partly blamed for banking business moving away from New York to more ‘relaxed’ foreign climes.
And it precisely this reason that I propose we erect a massive statue honouring Mr Spitzer on the empty plinth at Trafalgar Square (possibly with a sultry ‘Kristen’ on her hands and knees?). Mayor Livingstone may once again dismiss my radical proposals as the product of an insane, diseased brain but remember this Ken: Mr Spitzer, more than any other individual, has helped make London close to taking over from New York as the financial capital of the world. Hence, the hideously large bonuses that I and all my fellow Cityboy tossers have received over the last four years can partly be attributed to this wonderful hypocrite. Also, whatever bad things our yank brethren may say about Elliot he is, as far as I know, not a scribe or a Pharisee, so St Matthew shouldn’t get too moody either.