The next sentence will discuss what the memo will discuss. This memo discusses the risk of criminal liability for those who work at Long or Short Capital. Nothing gives me any reason to suspect that our staff are involved in criminal activity, but the Government’s recent waiver of certain optional social conventions and niceties (i.e. “the law”) means those who work at this firm may be subject to just about any treatment, except for waterboarding in Gitmo (waterboarding via rendition to Saudi Arabia remains above board).
The Government has discarded our traditional notions of due process and fair play and replaced them with a shower of golden benefits from a much older, yet somehow much more progressive rule, Force Majeure.
Force Majeure, from the french La Force Majeure is a legal term of art meaning “because we say so.” In the past, it described the principle that some forces of nature (such as wars, hurricanes, and leaders of unparalleled charisma and photogenic qualities) cannot be resisted, and all normal legal obligations and rights are therefore waived in its face. The doctrine was used as a defense against some poor sucker trying to enforce a contract. The new meaning, however, encompasses the power to re-write contracts. As the eminent commentators on Force Majeure Thomas Jefferson and Mao Tse Tung observed, “power comes from the barrel of a gun.”
Although some may disagree with Force Majeure as a guiding principle for the regulation of life and business generally, surely it is cause for celebration that the tiresome old Hegelian dialectic (Editor’s note: don’t worry if you don’t know what this means, not even lawyers do) has matured and reached its terminus. There’s no more back and forth and no more evolution of belief systems. Instead, the dialectic is looking down the barrel of an AK-47, trying not to crap its Frankfurt School underpants in its Nietzschean Lederhosen, and is being told to “shut the [bleep] up and eat your [bleep]ing vegetables, if you know what’s good for you.”
Recent examples of the exercise of Force Majeure abound. Just the other morning, a law was passed (aka “a press conference talking point”) outlawing the Federal bankruptcy code. Hedge fund managers dissented, noting that when seniority of debt was outlawed, only outlaws would hold senior debt, to which the White House Press Secretary replied, “that’s *so* true.” In another instance, somebody slipped a handful of Roofies into Chrysler’s drink at the Detroit Auto Show, after which it was forced to have sex in a very uncomfortable place (the back of a Pontiac) by some guys from the local Consolidated Union and their swarthy Italian buddy, Fiat, who settled for Daimler’s sloppy seconds.
You’ll do fine once you get used to the new rules. Things aren’t as bad as you think, we should revel in the fact that we have such an effective government under such a charismatic leader, President Ben Bernanke and his amiable bearded smugness. The idea of the Government rewriting your contracts in an ex parte and ex post facto manner seems unprecedented, but I’m sure you’ll adapt to that once you’re used to dealing with a Government that, as Judge Dredd would put it, is Judge Jury and Executor.
Now will you send up somebody to get the severed horse’s head out of my office? The process server brought this thing in attached to an summons cordially inviting you to testify before Senate Banking, and it is beginning to stink. He mentioned something about excessive management compensation and embezzlement, also creative accounting, but I’m not an
lawyer accountant. It was difficult to hear him over the whir of my money counting machine.