*insert sound of palm slapping forehead*

There's only one thing that bothers me much about this story:
As the global economy crashed and burned, certain top staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission were busy watching porn. Instead of policing Wall Street, some were surfing for smut. This is the revelation making headlines today after the leak Thursday night of a summary of 33 probes of SEC employees using government computers to access pornography over the past five years. For the most part, the summary (PDF) resurfaces information that was already public; and it's worth noting that it was requested by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, and is now being used as political ammunition by the GOP.

The details are as follows: 31 of the investigations took place during the financial meltdown and, as the extent of the crisis became clear in 2008, the number of investigations ballooned from two the previous year to 16. Many of the porn-watching staffers held senior positions and six-figure salaries, and the cases run the gamut from employees simply accessing X-rated material during off hours on a government-issued laptops to watching porn for as many as five hours while on the job.

Am I peeved that SEC personnel were watching porn instead of saving us from the depredations of the financial sector? Sure. But it's not really the time wasting per se that bothers me.

How is it that financial oversight was entrusted to people too stupid to know that you shouldn't surf for Internet porn on the work computer??!??! Did they not notice that even PG-rated celebrity gossip pages will put "NSFW" on pictures of wardrobe malfunctions or Tiger Woods text messages? Did they not know what that stands for?

Don't. Use your work computer. For porn. If you're too dumb to know that, then what on earth are you doing working with one, much less for the federal government? Yeesh.


  1. Srsly. (as it were.)
    And the thing is, if not for the discretion and odd honor code of the world's IT departments, we'd have a lot more of these stories.
    Non-IT workers of the world: You really shouldn't underestimate the amount of information your IT guy/girl has available about you, nor should you fail to appreciate that they usually don't do anything with it beyond gently coaching more discreet/responsible behavior.

  2. 7 People out of some 4000+ were dumb. It is about time they began to act like an enforcement agency. Read the Michael Lewis book The Big Short!

  3. UJ, you didn't read the report, did you? There were 33 cases referred to management (for out of control porn-watching), and I quote "Many of the porn-watching staffers held senior positions and six-figure salaries" which included "17 employees at a level of grade SK-14 and above (which can range from $99,356 through $222,418.)" It wasn't the janitors and copyroom staff wasting our money and trust.

    So try to come up with spin that is at least compatible with the facts of the case.

  4. OK JG, 33. Even so there are over 4000+ employees. This pimple is hardly a representation of the SEC. You are raving like Sarah Palin. Some of them (some) were 14's not exactly very high level. Considering how few there were I consider it not a big deal. (0.0001%) Wasting our money??? I would be willing to bet you were in favor of the Wall Street bailouts. Your statement sinks to the level of a Tea Party activist. The money you are so worried about Mr. Mad Hatter does not make a piss hole in the snow. On the plus side of things, you continue to be a roaring raving asshole akin to Mitch McConnell. Oh yes read Michael Lewis. His book shows exactly what is wrong with this country and the R's who run Wall Street.

  5. Does it matter if they were janitors or SVPs? Dan's point is a good one, but I'm going to go further...who needs that much porn? Who is so desperate to see nudity and sex that they can't wait until they get home? WTF is wrong with people that they can't work, and save their entertainment for later?
    Also? I am outraged that the government allows such f---wads get a paycheck. But is it really possible that the whole economy collapsed because SEC execs were not paying attention? Is it possible they had so little power, eviscerated by years of lassez faire corporate steamrolling of government that even having the entirety of the SEC paying rapt attention (which is the goal, of course) would have stopped anything? Not likely. But way to go GOP for blaming someone other than your own policies.

  6. NTW, yes, it matters if the people with high level responsibilities are the ones that are, umm, 'distracted' in the office. Janitors watch porn, the wastebaskets overflow. VPs watch porn, and teams of regulators go without guidance. So yes, it matters very much.

    Also, it was the regulated part of AIG that tanked the company, and therefore destroyed the confidence in debt swaps, which tipped financial markets... for want of a nail, the horse was lost, for want of a horse, the rider was lost, for want...

    And the GOP? They were the minority party for 2 years when the wheels came off, and Sen. Obama was a member of the "I Loves Me Some Fannie Mae" club, helping to insure that FM ran free of any inconvenient connections to reality. The GOP shares blame, but Dem fingerprints are all over the scene of the crime too. Chris Dodd, anyone?