Thursday, July 16, 2009

Suction is all.

The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a mean mother of an eel. With its tooth-studded oral disk it attaches itself to the flank of a fish, bores through its flesh with its raspy tongue and sucks the fish’s blood until it dies.

In the early twentieth century, the sea lamprey made its way into the great lakes as canals were built to bypass Niagara Falls. But the real devastation began when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959. There was an explosion of sea lamprey that destroyed Michigan’s fishing industry.

Now a new species of lamprey is creating devastation throughout the country and the world. This new species (Petromyzon via vallum) is as old as America, but, with the exception of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was relatively dormant. Then, beginning in 1980, the species exploded both in number and ferocity. Since then, it has left piles of anemic corpses in its wake.

Unlike the sea lamprey, the Wall Street lamprey attaches itself to industries and companies, and, boring into their flesh, sucks them dry. Instead of blood, it sucks assets. Like the sea lamprey, it has brought economic destruction to Michigan.

Both species of lamprey care little for their victims. Instead, both are driven by a primal need for sustenance.

It matters not that plants close as long as the eel is sated.

It matters not that more and more people are sinking into poverty as long as the eel is sated.

It matter not that people die because their health insurance is cancelled when they file a claim because they left a single detail off their application. The eel must be sated no mater the cost.

Then there’s the papa lamprey, Goldman Sachs, that has accomplished the historic feat of attaching itself to the flank of the United States. It is a great and bloated lamprey that swims languidly and slowly through the murky waters of economic policy. Other lampreys feed on the droplets that fall from its overflowing mouth as they, too, thrive.

The irony of both species is that their voracious appetites destroy their hosts. When this happens, the sea lamprey dies while the Wall Street lamprey attaches its oral disk to itself and starts down the path of self destruction as it continually recycles assets that are drained of their value with each pass through its system.

Even in its madness the Wall Street lamprey believes itself sane. That’s why it’s at the top of the food chain.

2 comments:

Suzan said...

And to us all, brother.

To us all.

Unlike the sea lamprey, the Wall Street lamprey attaches itself to industries and companies, and, boring into their flesh, sucks them dry. Instead of blood, it sucks assets. Like the sea lamprey, it has brought economic destruction to Michigan.

I saw this in the news and thought about the metaphor too.

Thanks for your fine essay.

S

Case Wagenvoord said...

Looking at Goldman Sach's first quarter profit, I'd say the firm is overdue for a visit to Weight Watchers.