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 and Debtors
Anonymous. As summarized by the American
Psychological Association, the process involves the following:
- admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
- recognizing a greater power that can give strength;
- examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
- making amends for these errors;
- learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
- helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
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).
- We admitted we were powerless over making dodgy loans - that
our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us
to a normal way of thinking and living.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this
Power of our own understanding.
- Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of
- Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
- Humbly asked God (of our understanding) to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends
to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly
- 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.
- Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs,
we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.
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
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon
fund manager unity.
- 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.
- The only requirement for fund manager membership is a desire to stop
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups
or A.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to
the alcoholic who still suffers.
- 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.
- Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our
service centers may employ special workers.
- A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards
or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A.
name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion;
we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio,
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding
us to place principles before personalities.