Saturday, April 11, 2009

Send Wall Street bankers to prison

President Obama says he sees a glimmer of hope in the economy. OK.

His top economic advisor, Larry Summers, assures us the economic free-fall will come to a close within just a few months. Great job.

But you know what, fellas? It would make me feel a lot safer if you would start criminal proceedings against some of these crooks in the banks, these frauds on Wall Street. Start with AIG and Bear Stearns and work your way forward.

Set aside the morality issues -- the bonus money, the arrogance, the sense of entitlement, the lavish trips, the trillions and trillions of moneys lost that wiped out middle America’s saving -- set aside all that. Consider only the law.

Do that and get back to us.

If you are going to leave the same people in charge of the nation’s economic system, eventually they will fall back into the same traps laid by their own greed. Happens every time.

But send some of them to prison and they will at least think twice.

Here’s a thought from Jon Stewart, America’s modern Mark Twain:
“What’s the difference between a Ponzi scheme and an investment bank?”


Jeff Hebert said...

The thing is, nothing these guys did was illegal (with the obvious exception of the Madoff types). That's the problem. The laws were set up to not only allow this sort of thing, but to encourage it. They WANTED big huge bank-like entities with no meaningful oversight, with all the powers of banks plus insurance companies plus investment houses yet which were bound by very few of the regulations of those sorts of more focused entities.

If you're going to start arresting people you're going to have to lock up a lot of Congressmen and voters because all of this giant steaming pile of crap we're being served was done within the bounds of the laws the guys we elected passed.

You want to fix the problem, fix the rules. Then elect people who don't think government is worse than useless to oversee the industry to make sure people actually play by the rules. You can't have a game without referees, or with referees who think the whole concept of refereeing is evil.

JohnSBoles said...

I fear that Jeff is absolutely correct and that we have little legal recourse except to change the rules and enforce the rules.

Those who preach free markets seem not to understand that there is not now nor has there ever been a free market. There have always been rules and/or laws to govern commerce.

Kings and dictators don't allow free markets. Communism and socialism do not allow free markets. Capitalism has always recognized that some among us are greedy. Hence the need for rules and laws.

The need for significant change in regulation must not be equated with a turn toward socialism but as an admission that there are bad guys out there.

Anonymous said...

The problem lies in the thinking power of the guilty thugs who are stealing our money,just like they did before the alleged 'freefall ' of big business.
I'm sure that you have noticed the presence of the word 'MEGA' attached to everything that grows by leaps and bounds.
There is the 'mega church'which I will never understand. Christ set up His church to be many small churches, with several in any given community,That's not what we have now.The mega church of today means mega money.
Then there's the 'mega'bank,which opens as many branches as possible. We didn't have this problem when banks were not allowed to have sattelite banks.
The 'mega' mortgage company control controls most of the mortgage loans made in America and their subsideraries in foreign contries
The 'mega' insurance companies have got their hooks in just about every thing that moves.
The 'SUPER MEGA' congress was not set up to do anything but have minimal say in the constitution.(You can laugh here) But the ones that let the thieves get away with it are us!
Until we decide to hitch up our britches and scream 'FOUL' it will only get worse.--Goose

George Phenix said...

I'm not the only one who thinks there were criminal acts in the financial melt-town. If you hope justice is not a fiction, read William Cohan's "House of Cards."

The South Plainsman said...

One would think that there was criminal activity in a lot of this mess, but I have to agree with Jeff...most of the damage was done in a perfectly legal manner because the official we elected failed to do their jobs.

For the last 45 years, our politicians have gotten cozier and cozier with the Wall Street financial institutions, and have essentially let them make the rules.

We need some sensible rules, but they must be enforced. No institution, or small group of them, should ever be allowed to get "too big to fail." Nor should any be allowed to pose a "systemic risk" if they should fail.

The Glass-Steagall Act should be re-enacted. When the Congress repealed that (Phil Gramm in the lead)it permitted a lot of bad things to happen.

One other thing that could be improved: the very people who were in on the creation of the problems are now the ones picked to solve them. It appears to me that there is a lot more interest in saving those huge financial institutions than there is in protecting the rest of us.

Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that it has been US Governemnt policy for decades to promote consumption on credit. This has gotten us all(particularly the government) in way more debt than can be paid back without great sacrifice. And we are unwilling to make the sacrifice necessary.

Creating even more debt will only make it worse.

We have danced to the tunes for most of our lifetimes. Now it is time to pay the Piper.

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