Matt Taibbi has a comprehensive article entitled “Why isn’t Wall Street in jail?” that was published in Rolling Stone a few days ago. I’ll let the sub-heading from the article’s title tell its story: Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.
This is the story of a massive, probably unprecedented, level of fraud and corruption on the part of banks and other financial institutions. In reciprocal to that fraud is the complete lack of attention, or even the overt protection, afforded to fraudsters by those who are supposed to regulate, investigate, and prosecute wrongdoings on in our financial sector.
If you’d prefer a video to his article, Taibbi was also interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and told her, “And the only reason that people aren’t angrier about this, I think, is because they don’t really understand what happened. If these were car companies that had sold a trillion dollars’ worth of defective cars to the citizens of the United States, there would be riots right now. But these were mortgage-backed securities, it’s complicated, people don’t understand it, and they’re only now, I think, beginning to realize that they were defrauded.”
Governor Kasich of Ohio is also mentioned. Ohio is in the process of passing a bill to restrict the right of unionized workers to bargain for health care and pension benefits. The sad part is that, in Taibbi’s words, “[Ohio Governor Kasich] was intimately involved with selling—getting the state of Ohio’s pension fund to invest in Lehman Brothers and buy mortgage-backed securities. And of course they lost all that money.”
On Wall Street bailout and bonuses, Taibbi told Goodman, “their policy was to get Wall Street well again, and ostensibly they were supposed to reinvest in the economy and put people back to work. But instead, they just kept the money. And, I mean, they literally went from being completely insolvent to, you know, making $150 billion bonus pools every year, and that money is all public money. It’s pure bailout gift from the taxpayer.”
This is interesting, as The Daily Show had an expertly assembled segment yesterday showing various conservative pundits saying a few months ago how those (hundreds of billions in) bonuses were “promised” to the brokers and hedgefund managers in contracts and it would be wrong to back out on them, and then showing those exact same pundits explaining how teacher contracts need to be negotiated because of the dire economic situation we are can’t afford teachers that make $50,000 per year. It’s short and totally worth watching.