January 23, 2021
Pliny the Elder tells the story of a shoemaker who complained to the ancient painter Apelles about his rendition of a crepida (a shoe). Being the ever polite guy, Apelles altered his painting to suit the shoemaker. Emboldened by his apparent success, the shoemaker then proceeded to point out more alleged defects in the painting. Having reached the limits of his patience, Apelles purportedly upbraided the critic: "Ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret" ("a shoemaker should not judge beyond the shoe"). Today, that entire story has been reduced to the wonderful word "ultracrepidarian." All of which seems to have prompted a lovely tirade -- some may say a thought-piece -- from our guest blogger Aegis Frumento.
As a member organization, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") only affords votes to its member firms. Indeed, FINRA is a "self" regulatory organization to the extent that we all acknowledge that the "self" is its member firms in contradistinction to those firms' employees and customers. Unfortunately, FINRA's conflict of interest as engendered by its employer/member-firms comes at the expense of independence in the service of all other stakeholders. In a recent sexual harassment case brought by a former female employee against Morgan Stanley, we see how FINRA's rulebook favors its member firms. Worse, FINRA's management and its Board must be aware of the inequities yet fail to reform the conduct.
As we transition from Trump to Biden, I am reminded of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, whereby broken pottery is repaired in a manner that venerates the shards rather than hides the cracks and missing pieces. For some who practice this form of repair, precious metals are mixed into the fine powder used to mend the shattered pottery. As such, the broken and imperfect are highlighted rather than hidden.
Why do we say that we "take" a crap (or an even more impolite word) when we go to the bathroom, but we say that we don't "give" a crap when we don't care? Where were folks taking crap and how were they giving crap before those expressions came into vogue? And why the hell would someone gift wrap and present a crap to someone else as a sign of their earnest intentions? Alas -- sigh -- I am indeed laboring under the endless isolation of COVID. Consider a recent FINRA regulatory settlement for what prompted my latest round of intellectual endeavors.