June 12, 1953
My heroes include people who constantly challenge corruption—whether they are powerful authorities or everyday working stiffs. In the wake of highly publicized corporate scandals, we desperately need people who will stand up to dishonest business leaders.
One such protagonist is Phil Angelides, head of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Angelides is a former treasurer of California (and unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate) who fought for executive pay caps and greater corporate responsibility. In a January commission hearing, Angelides asked Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein how his bank could defend its practice of selling mortgage-related securities that it was simultaneously shorting. “It sounds to me,” said Angelides, “a little bit like selling a car with faulty brakes, then buying an insurance policy on the buyer of those cars.”
Angelides has promised that his commission will be “a proxy for the American people—their eyes, their ears, and possibly also their voice.” In other words, our hero. He aptly paraphrased philosopher George Santayana when he warned, “If we ignore history, we’re doomed to bail it out again.”