Individual Responsibility Except for Banks

Individual Responsibility Except for Banks

Justice Department’s New Get-Tough Policy Is, Well, Not | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

I get that regulators are worried about job losses. They should be. But the long-term job losses are going to be much greater when investors around the world lose confidence in the U.S. financial system because they recognize that individuals do not face punishment for criminal activity. The individual incentive not to commit crime on Wall Street now is almost zero. Even the worst of the worst – like, say, a certain unindicted co-conspirator in an evolving insider trading case – is only threatened with individual prosecution after years of monstrous and obvious market manipulation, resulting in massive profits that he’ll almost certainly get to keep most of, by the way, if previous settlements are any guide.

It continually amazes, the way all of these law-and-order types are so willing to pontificate about the importance of taking individual responsibility for one’s actions, until the guy in their crosshairs is someone he/she went to college with, or a former client of his or her law firm. Then, suddenly, their idea of drastic justice becomes maybe yanking the license of a foreign subsidiary.

Justice Department’s New Get-Tough Policy Is, Well, Not | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

 

Two Standards of Justice
Two Standards of Justice

Two standard of justice exist in this country. One for those in the government and the higher circles of income and influence and another for the “common” people. If you have been following my blog for the last few years, you will encounter wrong doing among the banking fraternity and the government going unpunished on a regular basis. When there is some justice, it is almost pathetic how little penalty the investment banks and their enablers face. 

But study crime in the United States, and you will note vast penalties handed out for very small crimes indeed particularly drug crimes. My personal favorite is the woman doing fifteen years for a third possession of marijuana. This is what passes for justice.

This poem is from the 17th Century.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who takes things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

Have things changed all that much?

James Pilant

 

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Will the Government Ever Attempt to Enforce the Law Against the Bank of America?

Bank of America is teetering on the edge of collapse. It has received enormous aid from the federal government in bailouts, loans and preferential treatment to the tune of trillions of dollars of government guarantees. To add further injury to the insults already suffered, the federal government, that is, the Obama Justice Department has okayed a settlement protecting Bank of America from lawsuits for its practice of filing false affidavits and inventing ownership of property in American Courts. Yet even with this help, the bank is run so badly that it is still failing.

How long does this go on?

Is the government going to bailout this bank one more time?

What crimes do they have to commit? What incompetence do they have to display? What greed in the form of enormous executive bonuses do they have to display? – before enough is enough and they are allowed to perish?

James Pilant

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail | Politics News | Rolling Stone

In a pure capitalist system, an institution as moronic and corrupt as Bank of America would be swiftly punished by the market – the executives would get to loot their own firms once, then they’d be looking for jobs again. But with the limitless government support of Too Big to Fail, these failing financial giants get to stay undead forever, continually looting the taxpayer, their depositors, their shareholders and anyone else they can get their hands on. The threat posed by Bank of America isn’t just financial – it’s a full-blown assault on the American dream. Where’s the incentive to play fair and do well, when what we see rewarded at the highest levels of society is failure, stupidity, incompetence and meanness? If this is what winning in our system looks like, who doesn’t want to be a loser? Throughout history, it’s precisely this kind of corrupt perversion that has given birth to countercultural revolutions. If failure can’t fail, the rest of us can never succeed.

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail | Politics News | Rolling Stone

 

 

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Federal Reserve Gave Citibank 1.6 Trillion Dollars In Loans; Morgan Stanley – 2 trillion And Goldman Sachs – A Mere 600 Billion

Bernie Sanders
Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone

I was in Washington last week and visited Bernie in his office, mainly to talk about the incredible results of the Federal Reserve audit, about which I’ll be writing more in the upcoming weeks and after the New Year. The audit of the Fed was undertaken because Bernie and a few other members of congress fought very hard during the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform debate to force open Ben Bernanke’s books, and as a result we now know the staggering details of the secret bailout era. We know that Citigroup received $1.6 trillion in loans, and Morgan Stanley $2 trillion, and Goldman Sachs – the same Goldman Sachs that bragged about how quickly it paid back its $10 billion TARP bailout – over $600 billion. We know that hedge fund billionaires who moved their corporate addresses to the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded by their buddies in government with huge Fed loans; we know that the U.S. government likewise has been extending massive loans to a variety of Japanese car companies at a time when many American auto workers in Detroit have seen their wages cut in half, to $14 an hour. There’s that and there’s more on the outrage front, and we know it all because Sanders kicked and screamed and stamped his feet about Fed secrecy until just enough other members of the Senate decided to go along with him.

The TARP bailout was just a small part of the benefits showered on Wall Street, a Wall Street than in spite of the enormous public funds necessary to keep them operating paid out enormous bonuses.

But just for fun, and because I enjoy it, let’s see what Matt thinks about President Obama.

I contrast this now to the behavior of Barack Obama. I can’t even count how many times I listened to Barack Obama on the campaign trail talk about how, as president, he would rescind the Bush tax cuts as soon as he had the chance. He stood up and he said over and over again – I can still hear him saying “Let me be clear!” with that Great Statesman voice of his, before he went into this routine – that the Bush tax cuts were wrong and immoral. He said more than once that they “offended his conscience.” Then, just as he did with drug re-importation and Guantanamo and bulk Medicare negotiations for pharmaceuticals and the issue of whether or not he would bring registered lobbyists into his White House and a host of other promises, he tossed his campaign “convictions” in the toilet and changed his mind once he was more accountable to lobbyists than primary voters. He pulled an Orrin Hatch, in other words, only he did it serially.

I can live with the president fighting for something and failing; what I can’t stand is a politician who changes his mind for the sake of expediency and then pretends that was what he believed all along. You just can’t imagine someone like Sanders doing something like that; his MO instead would be to take his best shot for what he actually believes and let the chips fall where they may, budging a little maybe to get a worthwhile deal done but never turning his entire face inside out just to get through the day. This idea that you can’t be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don’t stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It’s possible to do this job with honor and dignity. It’s just that most of our politicians – our president included, apparently – would rather not bother.

Thanks, Matt!

James Pilant