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Christopher Marks

Excerpts from Michael Lewis' "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt"

2 min read

"Thus the only Goldman Sachs employee arrested by the FBI in the aftermath of a financial crisis Goldman had done so much to fuel was the employee Goldman asked the FBI to arrest."

"Don wasn't shocked or even all that disturbed by what had happened, or, if he was, he disguised his feelings. The facts of Wall Street life were inherently brutal, in his view. There was nothing that he couldn't imagine someone on Wall Street doing. He was fully aware that the high-frequency traders were preying on investors, and that the exchanges and brokers were being paid to help them to do it. He refused to feel morally outraged or self-righteous about any of it. "I would ask the question, 'On the savannah, are the hyenas and the vultures the bad guys?'" he said. "We have a boom in carcasses on the savannah. So what? It's not their fault. The opportunity is there." To Don's way of thinking, you were never going to change human nature--though you might alter the environment in which it expressed itself. Or maybe that's just what Don wanted to believe. "He's kind of like the mob guy who cries every now and then after a hit," said Brad, who thought that Don was exactly the sort of person he needed. Brad wasn't in the market for self-righteousness, or for people who defined themselves by their fine moral sentiment. "Disillusion isn't a useful emotion," he said. "I need soldiers." Don was a soldier."

"If the incarceration experience doesn't break your spirit, it changes you in a way that you lose many fears. You begin to realize that your life is not ruled by your ego and ambition and that it can end any day at any time. So why worry? You learn that just like on the street, there is life in prison, and random people get there based on the jeopardy of the system. The prisons are filled by people who crossed the law, as well as by those who were incidentally and circumstantially picked and crushed by somebody else's agenda. On the other hand, as a vivid benefit, you become very much independent of material property and learn to appreciate very simple pleasures in life such as the sunlight and morning breeze."