The Foo Fighters:
The Muslim Brotherhood is to anti-imperialism what Ben & Jerry’s are to ice cream, and even they are supporting NATO!
Meanwhile, sub-Saharan African migrant workers are being massacred by anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya, apparently because they can’t tell black people apart and assume they’re all mercenaries working for the dictator.
Isn’t war great?
I wish I just didn’t have any common sense, access to information and the need to correct people when they repeat really stupid shit, like the lady who told me last night that “senator’s children don’t have to repay their college loans.”
“Uh, that’s bullshit,” I said, trying to be polite.
“A very good friend told me this,” she said.
“And where’d he get it from – Fox News?” I said. “Look, this is what I do for a living. If this were true, I’d know about it.” I whipped out my phone and did a Google search. The only thing I could find was on some wacky wingnut site, whose author said he “heard it on Fox news.”
“And frankly,” I said, “Senator’s kids don’t need loans, since most of them are millionaires.”
Then someone else started talking about that 60 Minutes show about how the poor corporations take everything overseas because the taxes are so high here. “If they lowered the taxes, maybe we could get some jobs back,” she said with naked longing. (Several of the people there were still looking for work.)
I told her that the CEO from Cisco was, well, lying. “The real tax rate for Cisco is 10% after all their deductions,” I said. “What they really want is the ability to bring all that overseas money back here without paying any taxes on it, and they’re saying they can create jobs if they get the exemption.
“But the last time they tried this in 2004, they got the exemption and they didn’t create one single job.”
They just looked at me.
I spend more time trying to put out these little fires, and you know, I don’t think anyone ever believes me.
When Charles Ferguson received an Oscar for his documentary on the financial crisis, Inside Job, he reminded the audience that “not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.” Given the abundant evidence of massive fraud, Americans everywhere have asked the same question: Why haven’t any of those bankers gone to jail? If federal investigators could not establish criminal intent for any top-flight executives, didn’t they have enough evidence to prosecute banks or financial houses as law-breaking corporations?
Evidently not. Except for occasional civil complaints by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the nation is left to face a disturbing spectacle: crime without punishment. Massive injuries were done to millions of people by reckless bankers, and vast wealth was destroyed by elaborate financial deceptions. Yet there are no culprits to be held responsible.
Former Senator Ted Kaufman was especially upset by this. Kaufman was appointed in 2008 to fill out the remaining two years of Vice President Biden’s term as senator from Delaware. With no ambition to stay in politics, he was free to speak his mind. He made unpunished bankers his special cause.
It may have been very difficult to prove fraud, but it was not difficult, at all, to simply allow these firms to go bankrupt.
“People know that if they rob a bank they will go to jail,” Kaufman declared in an early speech. “Bankers should know that if they rob people, they will go to jail too.” Serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he helped get expanded funding and manpower for investigative agencies. In hearings, he politely prodded the Justice Department, the SEC and the FBI to be more aggressive.
“At the end of the day,” Senator Kaufman warned, “this is a test of whether we have one justice system in this country or two. If we do not treat a Wall Street firm that defrauded investors of millions of dollars the same way we treat someone who stole $500 from a cash register, then how can we expect our citizens to have any faith in the rule of law?”
Kaufman, now retired, sounded slightly embarrassed when I reminded him of his question. “When you look at what we got, it ain’t very much,” he conceded. “I’m genuinely concerned there are a lot of guys walking around Wall Street, the bad apples, saying, ‘Hey, man, we got away with it. We’re going to do it again.’”
If the legal system cannot locate the villains in this story, then “the law is a ass—a idiot,” as Charles Dickens put it. The technical difficulties in making a case for criminal prosecutions are real enough, given the complexities of modern finance. But the government’s lack of response to enormous wrongdoing reflects a deeper conflict of values. Will society’s sense of right and wrong prevail, or will corporate capitalism’s amoral need to maximize profit? So far, the marketplace appears to be winning.