Posts Tagged ‘Financial fraud’

How much equality do we want?

January 9, 2017



Grant that extreme economic inequality is a bad thing.  Grant that ever-increasing economic inequality is a bad thing.

Grant that complete equality of incomes is not feasible and maybe not desirable.  How much equality is enough?

The economist Friedrich Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom (as I recall) that it is impossible that people could reach a consensus on what each and every person deserves.   Once you reject complete equality, he  wrote, the only acceptable distribution of income is what results from the impersonal working of the free market.

A democratic government could never determine a distribution of income that is satisfactory to everyone, or even a majority, Hayek thought; if it tries, the result can only be gridlock and a breakdown of democracy.

But there are ways to reduce inequality that neither set limits on any individual’s aspirations nor give some group of bureaucrats the power to decide who gets what.   Some that come to mind immediately are:

  1. Prosecute those who get rich by lawbreaking.
  2. Set limits on unearned income.
  3. Break up monopolies.
  4. Empower labor unions and cooperatives.
  5. Provide good public services to all, regardless of income.
  6. Provide decent jobs for all who are willing and able to work.

What are your ideas?


How Clinton’s benefactor cashed in on the crash

October 3, 2016

Back in 2006, Donald Trump said he was sort of looking forward to the coming housing crash, because he could cash in—presumably by buying up distressed properties.

However, Trump didn’t do anything to cause the housing crash.   In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s benefactor and social friend, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, not only benefited from it, but helped to bring it about.

His firm bought up subprime mortgages.   That meant lenders could make “liar’s loans” they knew would never be paid back, and eliminate their risk by selling them to Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs converted the mortgages into securities, like stocks or bonds, and sold them on the open market.   They got rating agencies to label the securities as high quality investments, even though Goldman Sachs management knew they weren’t.

They made other investments based on the assumption that the market would crash and the securities would become worthless.

Other Wall Street companies did similar things, but Goldman Sachs was a leader.  All this seems like financial fraud to any normal person, but the Obama administration decided not to prosecute.

All this happened when Lloyd Blankfein was CEO of Goldman Sachs.  He became CEO in 2006 and before that was chief operating officer.

Goldman Sachs has given Hillary Clinton $675,000 for making three speeches, and husband Bill Clinton $1.55 million in speech fees.

The firm’s employees as a group are among the top five contributors to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.

Goldman Sachs also hosted the Clinton Global Initiative; the video above shows a picture of Hillary Clinton and Lloyd Blankfein at a CGI meeting.

How likely is it that a Clinton administration would prosecute Goldman Sachs officials for financial fraud?  How likely is it that a Clinton administration would bring financial malpractice under control?  The likelihood is next to zero, in my opinion.


Which side are they on?

December 9, 2014

The Republican Party leadership is explicitly anti-union because they recognize that unions are a key support for the Democratic Party and a key opponent of the right-wing corporate agenda.

It would seem logical to think that President Obama and the Democratic leaders would defend organized labor, one of the pillars of their party, but they don’t.

RTW_protestAs Thomas Edsall pointed out in his New York Times column, the Democratic leadership has been not only indifferent to labor’s goals, but sometimes actively hostile.

Republicans such as Scott Walker and Chris Christie have persuaded the public that low wages, job insecurity and lack of benefits are normal, and that a policeman who gets a pension enjoys an unfair privilege at the public expense.

Democratic leaders do little or nothing to counteract this.

The problem is not that Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or the other Democratic leaders are naive or weak, or that the Republicans are obstructionist (they are, but that’s not the problem).

The problem is that the goals of the Democratic leaders are different from what they say and from what their core supporters want.


The nine billion dollar whistleblower

November 8, 2014

A year ago, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $9 billion settlement with JP Morgan Chase to settle a case of securities fraud.

The $9 billion was the price paid for not going to trail, and not hearing the testimony of whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann, which was a bargain, because the market value of the bank’s stock rose by more than that amount when the settlement was announced.

Fleischmann was a deal maker for JP Morgan Chase who warned her superiors back in 2008 that the bank would be guilty of securities fraud if it sold risky mortgage-backed securities based on false  information.

She was brushed off and lost her job.  She contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and other authorities and also was brushed off.   But she is determined to bring out the facts anyway, despite the legal risk of violating a confidentiality agreement and the certainty of being blacklisted from working on Wall Street.

“The assumption they made is that I won’t blow up my life to do it,” she said.  “But they’re wrong about that.”  Matt Taibbi told her story in the current Rolling Stone.


The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JP Morgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Matt Taibbi and Bank Whistleblower on How JP Morgan Chase Helped Wreck the Economy, Avoid Prosecution, the full Democracy Now broadcast with transcript.

The passing scene: November 8, 2014

November 8, 2014

What the Election Means for the Republican Brand by Daniel McCarthy for The American Conservative.

Can a party philosophically defined by Fox News win millennial voters and the electorate of the future?  Daniel McCarthy wrote that they can win only if there’s no-one well organized enough to complete with them.

The well-oiled machinery of movement conservatism remains in the hands of those who think the only trouble with George W. Bush is that he didn’t go far enough, McCarthy wrote.

Lame duck Obama’s brave new world by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

Election of a Republican majority in the Senate means no possibility of agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons and fighting ISIS, no possibility of agreement with Russia on Ukraine and Middle East issues, and no possibility of action of climate change.

On the brighter side, Republicans, out of spite, will probably the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, with its investor-state provisions to block environmental and financial regulation.  The one thing the GOP and Obama administration will agree on is the so-called global war on terror.

As US and China meet at APEC summit, a drama involving billions in trade by Peter Ford for Christian Science Monitor.

China, which is excluded from the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, will launch a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific agreement as an alternative.  All 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group will be eligible to join.

The New York Times doesn’t want you to understand this Vladimir Putin speech by Patrick L. Smith for Salon.

The Hidden Author of Putinism by Peter Pomerantsev for The Atlantic.

Vladimir Putin is right to insist on the rule of law in international affairs for everyone, including the United States.  The fact that the rule of law is not observed in Russia’s internal affairs is a separate question.

The Hospital’s Duty of Care by Greg Pond for MRSA Topic, a blog devoted to infectious disease.  (Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist)

About 8,000 Canadians die every year of hospital-acquired infections.  That’s because physicians and nurses are too under-staffed and over-worked to have time to wash their hands after every interaction with patients.   I’m sure that U.S. hospitals are no better.  This is a much more serious public health threat to North Americans, at this point, than Ebola.

Bill Black on why financial crime isn’t prosecuted

October 4, 2014

Bill Moyers did a great interview with Bill Black, an expert on white-collar crime and former financial regulator, on the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute financial fraud.  He sums up the situation accurately, clearly and briefly.  Here are highlights from the transcript.


WILLIAM K. BLACK:  Yeah, in baseball terms they’re batting 0.000.  But they’re not just batting 0.000, they took called strikes. They never got the bat off their shoulder and even swung.  They didn’t even try.

BILL MOYERS:  Do you remember when President Obama told “60 Minutes,” I think it was late December of 2011 that, “Some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street…wasn’t illegal?”

BLACK: I do.

MOYERS: What did you think?

BLACK: I thought that he was wrong. That in fact if he listened to what the United States of America has demonstrated in court and through investigations, the activity was clearly illegal, it was a violation of a whole series of laws that make it felonies.

And these are just the frauds that caused the crisis. In addition to the frauds that caused the crisis, which are massive and we could talk about, we have the largest cartel in world history. This was the bid rigging of Libor, which is an international standard that sets the prices [interest rates] on over $300 trillion in [loans and financial] contracts.

A trillion is a thousand billion, right?  And then we have the foreclosure frauds where we have false affidavits [that the records were verified].  Over 100,000 felonies in that context.  And then we have the bid rigging on bond prices where all the major banks, according to the Justice Department, were involved.

And then we had the Federal Housing Finance Administration, a federal agency suing virtually every largest, of the largest 20 banks in the United States of America, saying they defrauded Fannie and Freddie through false sales.  And it goes on and on.

The savings and loan debacle, we made over 30,000 criminal referrals [during the administration of the elder George Bush].  Here, zero criminal referrals as far as we can get any public information.  So the first thing Holder should’ve done is re-establish the criminal referral process.  Because, you know, banks don’t make criminal referrals against their own CEOs.

MOYERS: Do you tell yourself, well, there is a justifiable and understandable reason why they don’t prosecute?

BLACK: No, there is no justifiable reason.  Apparently modern financial regulators are vastly more sophisticated than we were as financial regulators 25 years ago.  Because we had never figured out that the key to financial stability was leaving felons in charge of the largest financial institutions in the world.


The government needs better repo men

September 26, 2014


The U.S. government imposes huge fines against financial criminals, but rarely collects the full amount.

Notice the chart on the right, which is in fractions of a percentage point.  That’s right.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has never collected as much as 1 percent of the finds it has imposed in any year.

Big money is easy to hide and hard to collect.  So why not prosecute and see if financial crooks can be sent to jail?

Source: Financial Criminals Have Been Fined Billions, But They Rarely Pay by Joe Pinsker for The Atlantic

Why it made business sense to make bad loans

September 8, 2014

Click to enlarge

The subprime mortgage crisis was caused by bankers intentionally lending money to people without good incomes, sold assets or good credit records.

This is hard for a lot of people to understand.  As a friend of mine said, why would a bank lend her money unless they had good reason to believe that she would pay them back?

The answer is that what’s financially destructive for a bank as a corporation can be profitable for a banker as an individual.

Irresponsible-Borrowers-Cartoon4During the run-up to the subprime mortgage crisis, bankers got big bonuses for making high-interest loans, without regard to how risky those loans were.  In many cases, they were able to package financial instruments based on these mortgages, get high ratings for them from credit agencies and unload them on suckers.

There’s name for this practice.   It is “control fraud“.

But the Obama administration has chosen not to prosecute bankers.  Instead it is going after the small fry who put incorrect or incomplete information on their applications.   Thomas Frank wrote an article in Salon about how a California jury refused to convict a bunch of “liar’s loan” applicants on the grounds that you can’t mislead someone who isn’t interested in knowing the truth in the first place.

The article is worth reading for its clear explanation of how control fraud works, but I think Thomas Frank is over-optimistic about how much of a precedent the California jury’s verdict will create.  It depends on how many judges will allow this kind of defense to be made.  Many of them rule that the only issue is whether the form is filled out correctly, and that the largest context is irrelevant.

Alternatively the government could allow the banks to face the consequences of making bad loans.  This would provide an incentive for boards of directors to think about long-term consequences as well as short-term profit.  But the Obama administration, like administrations before it, has chosen to bail out the banks on the grounds that their failure would disrupt the economy.

The problem with bailouts is twofold.   Bailouts give recklessly-managed banks an advantage over prudently-managed banks.   And at some point the too-big-to-fail banks become too big to save.


The things that President Obama could do

August 18, 2014

butwewon'tThe excuse given by supporters of President Obama is that he is stymied by the Republican control of the House of Representatives and by Republican obstructionism in the Senate.   It is true that the congressional Republicans are determined to block the President’s programs by any legal means necessary.

But as Thomas Frank pointed out in his latest Salon article, there are many things the President could do on his own authority that would be both popular and beneficial to the nation.  They are:

Frank noted that Obama also could tell the Federal Communications Commission that Net Neutrality is the policy of his administrationHe could reclassify marijuana so that it is no longer a Class I narcoticHe could reform the federal contracting system so as to discourage outsourcing and promote good labor practicesHe could encourage whistle-blowers instead of punishing them.

So why doesn’t the President do any of these things?  It can’t be because he is worried about corporate donations for his next campaign.  He is not eligible to run again, so that is not a factor.

I see three possible explanations.  The most likely is that he genuinely believes in what he is doing.  My guess is that he thinks that the status quo, with some minor modifications to file off sharp edges, is the best that is possible in today’s world.

Another possibility is that he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the kind of lucrative post-Presidential career that Bill Clinton enjoys.  And the third, which I think highly improbable, is that he is afraid, that the powers-that-be know some guilty secret or have some sort of leverage on him.


How insiders rob banks and cause crises

March 18, 2014

William K. Blank is professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, a former bank regulator and author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One (which I haven’t read).

In this TED talk, he explains how crooked bankers enrich themselves through what he calls “control fraud”.  The method is as follows:

  • Make a lot of loans to people you know can’t pay you bank.
  • Conceal the bogus nature of the loans through fraudulent appraisals.
  • Collect high interest rates (for a while)
  • Report record profits (for a while)
  • Collect an enormous salary and enormous bonuses (for a while)
  • Escape scot-free with your riches when the crash comes.

There are two other elements that he doesn’t mention in this particular talk.

  • Convert the loans into financial securities and sell them to suckers
  • Go to Congress and the Federal Reserve Board to be bailed out when the crash comes.

Black said all this has been facilitated for the past 20 years by the Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations, and by the Federal Reserve Board during that period.  Everything is in place for another crash as big as what came before.

It seems obvious to me that we Americans need to (1) break up the “too big to fail” banks (those whose assets exceed a certain set percentage of Gross Domestic Product, (2) refuse to insure deposits that are used for risky investment and (3) prosecute financial fraud, as was done in the Bush I administration following the savings and loan crash.


America Has Become a “Cheater-Take-All” Nation by Willliam K. Black for AlterNet.

The Big Lie That Haunts the Post-Crash Economy by Dean Stockman for The New Republic.   The “big lie” is that “everyone” is to blame for the crash of the housing bubble, when in fact the bubble was mainly due to crooked financiers.

New Lawsuit Alleges That Wells Fargo Has a Manual for Mass Fabrication of Foreclosure Documents by Yves Smith.

Why Prosecutors Whiffed on Subprime Crime by Barry Ritholtz for Bloomberg View.

Hat tip for the video to Yves Smith.

The passing scene: Links & comment 8/9/13

August 9, 2013

Here are some links to articles I think are worth noting, but not worth a separate post in themselves.  For now I will put more links in roundup posts and fewer in my Recommended reading links menu, and see how that works.

A warning to profs from a high school teacher by Kenneth Bernstein in the Washington Post.  Hat tip to Unqualified Offerings.

My friends in academia complain of students who lack the ability to express themselves in a rational and coherent manner.  Retired teacher Kenneth Bernstein said that President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top programs have produced a generation of students who are good at passing multiple choice tests, and little else.

Vlad the Hammer vs. Obama the Wimp by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar wrote that Vladimir Putin has a realistic strategy for advancing Russia’s economic interests and geo-political power and the will to carry it out, while Barack Obama simply reacts to events.  Obama’s idle threats in the Snowden affair illustrate his lack of realism and self-control, Escobar said.

New Bank Investigations: Real Action or More of the Same? by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Matt Taibbi wrote that he will be convinced that the Obama administration’s investigations of Chase and the Bank of America are for real when some high-placed Wall Street lawbreaker actually goes to prison, or some Wall Street financial institution is broken up so that it is no longer too big to fail.

Why Spitzer’s Return Terrifies Big Finance by Thomas Ferguson on naked capitalism.

I’d guess that Eliot Spitzer, now running for New York City Comptroller after having resigned a few years ago as Governor,  is not the only New York politician who has spent money on prostitutes.  I’d also guess that he is one of the few who is willing to prosecute wealthy Wall Street financiers for fraud.

‘Eminent Domain for the People’ Leaves Wall Street Furious by Sarah Larare for Common Dreams.  Hat tip to Mike Connelly.

The city of Richmond, California, wants to buy mortgages of underwater homeowners at a discount (with the owners’ permission), and has threatened to seize properties by eminent domain if mortgage-holders refuse.  The city then would let homeowners refinance at their homes’ current values.  I think it is a good plan.  I thinks there needs to be debt relief.

Osama bin Laden’s insights and the Egyptian coup by Ian Welsh.

Osama bin Laden believed that corrupt Middle East governments could not be overthrown so long as the United States propped them up, and the only way Middle Eastern peoples could become truly independent is to get the U.S. bogged down in stalemate wars, like Russia in Afghanistan.  Bin Laden was a criminal terrorist, but his analysis makes sense to many people in the region.

‘Urgent’ Fukushima Crisis Demands More Public Money, says Japan by Jon Queally for Common Dreams.  Hat tip to Mike Connelly.

Japanese officials said that up to 300 tons of highly radioactive water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean each day.

DEA and NSA Team Up to Share Intelligence, Leading to Secret Use of Surveillance in Ordinary Investigations by Hanni Fakhouri of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  Hat tip to Dennis Darland.

President Obama said on the Jay Leno show that the NSA was used only for national security.  Evidently he was misinformed.

That seems wrong to me, too

March 2, 2013


Hat tip to jobsanger.

Prosecuting Wall Street: time is running out

September 14, 2012

Two governmental agencies which investigated the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown—the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the U.S. Senate Criminal Investigations Subcommittee—made criminal referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice.  These referrals were never acted on.  Soon the six-year statute of limitations on prosecuting financial fraud will run out, and it will be too late to prosecute.

Chris Swecker, former assistant FBI director in charge of its Criminal Investigations Division, issued a public warning back in 2004 about an explosion of mortgage fraud that could lead to calamity.  The warning was not heeded.  He told Al Jazeera English that the Justice Department has not allocated sufficient resources for investigation and prosecution.  He noted that Attorney General Eric Holder and Criminal Division Chief Larry Breur were white-collar defense attorneys and have a “defense mindset.”

Bryan Georgiou, who served on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, said the Justice Department’s inaction shows “a lack of accountability that is really quite unique in American history.”

Part of the reason is the large sums of money the big Wall Street firms spend on campaign contributions and lobbying.  Goldman Sachs was President Obama’s largest corporate donor in 2008; the Justice Department terminated its criminal investigation of Goldman in August, saying there was no basis for indictments.  Another reason is the revolving door between working for government and working on Wall Street.

William Black, an expert on white collar crime and litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s, said the impact of the recent financial meltdown is roughly 70 times as great, in terms of its economic impact, as the S&L crash, yet the investigative and prosecution effort is much smaller.  The subprime mortgage crisis was fraud from start to finish, from knowingly signing up borrowers based on false information to repackaging the loans and selling them based on false information.

He said the Justice Department appears not to understand “accounting control fraud,” in which executives who control a company loot it for their own benefit.  “The best way to rob a bank is to own or control one,” he said.   Unless President Obama and Attorney General Holder change course, the robbers will get away with it.  And, no, there is no reason to think that Mitt Romney, with his shady financial history, would be any different.

American kleptocracy

July 11, 2012

Charles H. Ferguson, producer of the Oscar-winning documentary film “Inside Job,” argues in his new book, PREDATOR NATION: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption and the Hijacking of America, that the executives of the largest financial firms are criminals—literally, not metaphorically.

Ferguson dug into investigative reports and civil lawsuits, and, being a successful academic and entrepreneur himself, was able to talk to many high-status people who might not have talked to the likes of Michael Moore (or me).  On the basis of this, he named names, and laid out evidence of lawbreaking.  Unlike many financial writers, he was able to explain clearly how the various financial scams worked, what harm they did and why they were against the law.

This is the best book I’ve read on what’s wrong with the financial system.  If you have time to read just one book, I recommend you read this one.

Neither the financial sector nor the U.S. economy as a whole will be restored to health until people are sent to prison when they commit financial fraud, accounting fraud, price rigging, bribery, perjury and other crimes.  Wall Street financiers, like everyone else, are entitled to be presumed innocent by the legal system until proven guilty, but Ferguson lays out reasons why various individuals should be the subject of criminal investigations.

Here are some examples:

1.  Jefferson County, Alabama, home of the city of Birmingham, decided to refinance a major sewer project when interest rates fell in the early 2000s.  Instead of offering new financing at a lower interest rates, a consortium of banks led by JPMorgan Chase talked local officials into buying something called auction-rate securities, in which the interest rate is reset every three weeks, and paying six times the normal amount in fees. This was made possible by paying local officials and brokerage firms, and paying $3 million to Goldman Sachs and $1.4 million to Rice Investments not to compete.  All these bribes were added the fees charged to the county government.  One week in 2008 nobody wanted to bid on auction-rate securities, and the obligation fell to Jefferson County’s taxpayers, most of whom were not rich.  Two county commissioners were prosecuted and sent to prison.  JPMorgan Chase paid some small fines and two of its executives were barred from securities trading, but that is all, even though bribery is a crime.

2.  Morgan Stanley in 2007 was one of many companies selling a security called a synthetic collateralized debt obligation—a debt backed by no collateral, but structured as if it was.  It was set up to duplicate the results of a package of collateralized subprime mortgages, which would soon be revealed to be worthless.  Morgan Stanley officials persuaded the Virgin Islands government employees’ pension fund, among others, to invest the fund in these securities, which they at the time knew to be worthless and were selling short—that is, selling with an option to buy back later after the price had plummeted.  The Virgin Island civil servants lost their pension rights.  Through the short selling, the value of the pension fund was transferred to Morgan Stanley.

3.  Goldman Sachs sold an investment package which was created on the basis of its bad quality, just so an investor named John Paulson could bet that it would collapse.  Yet most of these bad securities were rated AAA, and Goldman Sachs in its prospectus said they’d been subject to an intensive credit review process.  Selling securities knowingly based on false information is a crime.

This was not just a case of a few bad applies, Ferguson wrote.  Almost all the apples were bad.  He said the whole housing price bubble was based on fraud, Ferguson said.  Wall Street firms sold securities based on mortgages in which they falsely stated that the loan did not exceed the value of the property, the property did not have liens taking priority over the mortgage, the property was occupied and the borrower had the financial ability to pay back the mortgage.  There is a legal requirement of “due diligence” to make sure the information in a securities offering is correct.  This wasn’t done, Ferguson said.

Borrowers in some cases were also victims of fraud, he said.  Some of them, especially minorities and immigrants, were misinformed about the terms of the loan; some who qualified for standard loans were told they only qualified for subprime loans, which carried higher interest rates and charges.  This is illegal under the truth and ending laws.

In an earlier era, lawbreaking financiers such as Charles Keating, Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky and Enron’s Jeff Skilling went to prison.  Martha Stewart went to prison for the comparatively trivial offense of selling stock based on a tip by somebody who had inside information.  In the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, several thousand financial executives were criminally prosecuted and hundreds were sent to prison.  But in today’s scandals, nobody has been criminally prosecuted.

The evidence of criminal fraud is just as great now as it was then, but the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, is dominated by representatives of the very firms that are suspected of criminal activity.  President Obama has said that no laws have been broken.  That is a statement he would be justified only after an extensive investigation had shown it to be so.  It is not justified as an excuse for not conducting the investigation.

Not just the government, but the top echelons of the economics profession have fallen under the sway of Wall Street, Ferguson wrote.  There is a three-way revolving door, from Wall Street to government to the economics departments of the top universities.  Top economists get consulting fees, corporate directorships, and big lecture fees from Wall Street firms and the foundations they set up.  Hardly any universities have financial disclosure or conflict-of-interest rules.  The economics establishment, unsurprisingly, is unsympathetic to points of view that conflict with Wall Street interests.

Again, Ferguson names names, and cites chapter and verse.  I don’t do justice in this post to his detailed facts.  I recommend you read the book.  If you don’t have time to read a whole book, you can sample Ferguson by clicking on the links below.

Click on Where We Are Now for an excerpt from Predator Nation on how financial corruption affects the U.S. economic future.

Click on The Sellout of the Ivory Tower and the Crash of 2008 for an excerpt from Predator Nation on the corruption of the economics profession.

Click on Wall Street Has Turned the U.S. Into a Predatory Nation for the first part of a TV interview of Ferguson by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now program.

Click on Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption and the Hijacking of America for the second part of Amy Goodman’s interview.

The message of Occupy Wall Street

October 10, 2011

A lot of people in Washington, D.C., claim to be bewildered as to just what the Occupy Wall Street protesters seem to be trying to say.  Their message is clear enough to me.

They say that Wall Street financiers have a stranglehold on the economy and on government.  They say Wall Street financiers are largely responsible for the economic crash, yet have profited handsomely while others suffer economic distress.  They say they want the stranglehold to end.

Many different things can be done to end the stranglehold, but three are very obvious.

  • Employees and lobbyists of the banks that caused the economic crisis should not set policy.
  • People who broke the law should be prosecuted.
  • Corporations that go should be allowed to fail, or reorganized in a way that does not reward those responsible for the bankruptcy.

I would think that liberals, libertarians and principled conservatives and Tea Party members would agree on the above.  All these things would make a big difference, and they don’t require any new laws.  President Obama could do them without needing the consent of the Republicans in Congress (he might have to make a few recess appointments to fill vacancies).