It is the big lie of the decade: “it’s nothing personal, it’s only business.” Part excuse, part rationalization, all bull…, it is the default go-to line delivered by those who take away people’s homes, put them out of work or take their trade elsewhere. The financial world’s equivalent of the “it’s not you, it’s me” line from a bad rom-com or the “this will hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you” promise from a dentist, it is as insulting and as insincere as it is inaccurate and infuriating.
What can be more personal than being fired from a job, from having a career not merely curtailed but also belittled and dismissed in a half-dozen words? People define themselves by their job. Fireman or lawyer, grocery clerk or banker, teacher or doctor – it is usually the first description anyone gives of who they are. There is more to most people than what they do – but still, their job is at least the cover on the book of their life, the literary genre into which they catalog themselves. To be ripped untimely from the shelf, the cover torn off and the disfigured book tossed into the recycling, or the fire, is very, very personal.
So too is having one’s clients or customers penuriously cancel their contracts – as one bakery vendor lamented over a cup of coffee this week – for the price of a mere penny less per unit from a competitor. Twenty years of delivering good-quality goods, on time, and on contract meant nothing to the company buyer, sighed the vendor; that penny-per-unit saved made the “bottom-line” all that little bit blacker, making the buyer look good to his boss. “It’s nothing personal,” the buyer told the baker, “it’s only business.”
That simple statement led the vendor to cut hours and lay-off bakers and delivery truck drivers, reduce orders from his suppliers and cancel plans to buy new equipment. Perhaps, he too, fell back upon the six trite little words his buyer used to cut him to the quick. Whether he did or not, the ripple effect from that first “it’s nothing personal” continues to make more difficult the lives and livelihood of workers in his and other companies. That buyer’s decision has become very personal to a lot of people.
“It’s only business” is not the all-forgiving and universal Catholic mea culpa, the Mediterranean“mi scusi” that washes away all injury that the world of finance would have its victims believe. No where is this more evident than in the mortgage industry – or, more accurately, the foreclosure industry. Snapping up a house is not a mere bloodless property transaction; it is the destruction or at the very least disenfranchisement of hearth and home, the capture, nay, the razing of the family castle. America, the vaunted land where “every man’s home is his castle” is fast-falling back into a land of serfs, of tenants, living on estates of those to the manor born (or the modern equivalent, the foreclosure-happy mortgage bankers).
Do mothers and fathers tell their children “it’s nothing personal” when they have to pack up their blankets and toys and move out of their home? No. It is very personal; it is as personal as it gets, and saying otherwise is more than just mere pretending – it is lying, and there is far too much of that kind of lying going around in America these days.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with over 30 years of experience as a ghost-writer, author and columnist on history, politics, international affairs and the games people play. (In the interests of full disclosure, he is a lifelong Democrat, a union man and the son and grandson of union men.) His latest work, the science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan’s Star Marines, is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-Save/dp/1466218487/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1325530055&sr=8-3
To view and pre-order what will be Mark’s 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit http://www.gmtgames.com/p-238-rebel-raiders-on-the-high-seas.aspx
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