Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A Good Man in a Bad Business

David Kellermann, the acting CFO of Freddie Mac, was found dead of apparent suicide. He was 41.



Alas, poor David Kellermann. I knew him not. The news reports said that he was a “hard worker”, “a good guy”, with “extraordinary work ethic” and “integrity”. His apparent suicide in a weird way confirms that; imagine a good man with extraordinary integrity witnessing the going-ons in the mortgage industry. But being good is not enough. Like the charitable work of society ladies – sending get-well cards to wounded soldiers – it could be perfectly useless. Like the cultural activities of financiers – takeover artists underwriting operas – it could be downright detrimental. Sartre developed the notion of praxis – the activity of an individual or group in an organization with an eye toward some end – precisely to reach beyond the inadequacy of this in-itself do-gooding.



I cannot speculate on what David Kellermann was going through; if I did that I would be writing fiction. But I am certain that he did not know about the history of the destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that I chronicled in three parts here, here and here. Had he known, he would have been a more cynical man, but he would be alive now.



Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it kills you. Poor David Kellermann.