Matt Taibbi has it right -
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.
The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.
Two kinds of justice? Is there one for you and I, and another for the great financial elites? Let’s say that I steal $100,000 dollars from my employer, if they press charges would I go to jail? Quite likely. What if I work for a giant investment bank and I commit fraud and other security violations to the tune of several hundred million dollars? Will I go to jail then? No.
What is going on here? This isn’t fair.
Why do we put people in jail or prison? To punish them and discourage others from committing the same offenses.
What message does this “two-tiered” system of “justice” send? It says that wrongdoing is okay if you are properly placed in the economy. If you are not placed in the right industry with the right friends and the right “law enforcement,” you can expect to be penalized when you commit crimes. The impact is clear, if you work in the financial industry you will not be punished for your financial crimes.
Do I have to tell you that giving sectors of the economy the right to commit crimes at will is bad policy? They will continue to do it.
In 2007, these crimes almost brought down the world economy. The damage done did through us into the Great Recession.
They walk free even after this.
What can be done?