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Dean Parker on his intriguing play and stereotypical finance company villains

  • November 21st, 2012

Dean Parker has commented on my review of his Circa play.

"If you go back and have another look at the play, and ignore Pauline and Trish (impossible, I know), you’ll see the key to the lawyer’s character is his failure as a writer. His daughter is on to this. I share his pain."

I appreciate him taking the time. He may be right that I was identifying too closely with the lawyer in his Oliver character, and not recognising the writer. I've responded, but he deserves a substantive explanation of why I thought his depiction of Oliver's temptation and fall were too stereotypical.

I was distracted by the signalled doom in the Dellabarca enticement, . I realise a playwright must signal, to build suspense, but it made the eventual financial disaster outcome too predictable. I did not lose my interest in just how it would work out though.

Then Oliver's rationalisations and predicament at the end recycled cant stereotypes of the presumed stupidity and callousness of finance company directors. Again, I acknowldge a playwright's need to provide morality play symbols and stories in a few words the audience grasps quickly. But for me it jarred.

From having now lawyered thru two boom and bust cycles, and been closely involved in securities law for three decades, and knowing many directors and lawyers who've been involved, I react to stereotyping that reflects a minority of cases. Few collapses and losses are caused by cynical or ruthless opportunism. Many more are inevitable as the cycle turns. High  returns must end lest we create a class of permanently privileged risk takers. We actually need collapses to reduce the risk of permanantly rich dynasties, and the political oligarchies they spawn.

I fear that our recent legislative reaction to loss cycles will be more likely to protect incompetent holders of capital, and reinforce the trends to inequalities and South American style politics.

The loss stages of cycles in healthy markets result from the usual herd blindness and good intent and misjudged pursuit of duty that most of us operate under. But at the end each time, as well as the crooks who should go to jail for much longer, we pillory a quota of scapegoats, and change our law to make it even more torturous. That benefits lawyers and politicians. But it is vain and expensive for the dynamism of our economy.

Simple determined enforcement of our oldest laws on dishonesty throughout the cycle, plus the powerful residual memory of losses to greed and collective optimism (such memories have about a 7 year half life as a meme/prophylactic) would do  far more. Through-out my career I've tried to ensure crooks were pursued, including chasing some at my own cost and risk.

In my view the law changes of the last decade make even less likely  the needed official and political consistency, and the necessary support form business people generally.



big changes coming soon

  • philob
  • November 22nd, 2012
  • 8:51 pm

Hi Stephen, my browser does not show any comments on your website. Have they all been stripped off?

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