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9 June 2009 | Draft

Twelve-Step Program for Fund Managers


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As widely understood, a twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems. Originally proposed in 1939 by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a method of recovery from alcoholism. As noted by Wikipedia, the method was then adapted and became the foundation of other twelve-step programs such as Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous. As summarized by the American Psychological Association, the process involves the following:

Given the manner in which fund managers in banks and other financial institutions have been complicit in sale of toxic assets leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, it seems appropriate to frame their attitude as constituting a form of addiction -- a behavioural disorder. Many commentators have framed this in terms of the culture of greed epitomized by Wall Street. Following the bailouts, it is now apparent, as with any form of addiction, that this behavioral pattern is reasserting itself. The bailouts are then to be seen, in some measure, as effectively providing alcohol to alcoholics.

As a consequence it is appropriate to consider the relevance of the format of the 12-Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous -- adapted to the circumstances of fund managers with a behavioural tendency to greed.

A more elaborate application has been developed by Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati (Ending Plutocracy: A 12-Step Program, Institute for Policy Studies, 16 June 2008).

Twelve Steps

  1. We admitted we were powerless over making dodgy loans - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
  7. Humbly asked God (of our understanding) to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.

Twelve Traditions

The Twelve Traditions accompany the Twelve Steps, the Traditions provide guidelines for group governance. They were originally developed in Alcoholics Anonymous in order to help resolve conflicts in the areas of publicity, religion and finances. Most twelve-step fellowships have adopted these principles for their structural governance. The format is as follows

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon fund manager unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority -- a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for fund manager membership is a desire to stop greed-based lending
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

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