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Every thing is screwed up and nobody goes to jail…now you know the rest of the story!

Taibbi Matt Taibbi has a new piece in Rolling Stone that discusses why we’ve yet to see anyone go to jail as a result of the various pieces of nonsense leading up to the financial meltdown. It’s an interesting piece because it points out the difference between Main Street and Wall Street in a very important way — the more harm you can do to more people, the less likely you are to be punished. Brother Schmedlap sells someone a half ounce of dope in Utah and goes to jail for six months; BOA continues to not play nice with and actually screw with it’s customers and pays some fines. Nothing to see here, just move along.

The only big money guy to get sent to jail is Madoff. Chris Matthews had a segment with Jim Cramer of CNBC this afternoon, trying to figure out why Madoff has taken to claiming that the banks and investment houses had to know what he was doing. Well, to my mind Cramer whiffed on this one…he pointed out that there was a lot of speculation about how Madoff could be registering the results he was claiming, and that Barrons, among others, discussed the possibility that he was running a Ponzi scheme. However, the SEC supposedly kept giving him a clean bill of health. Again, I’m not an economist or a banker or an expert on regulatory affairs, but if the SEC kept giving him a clean bill of health, somebody at the SEC needs to be in jail next to Madoff…

Now, I’ve been reading the various books about the debacle, and there have been a number of them — well researched, well written and well documented. If I were to sum up what I’ve read, the problem began with the whole concept of derivatives. These investment instruments are hard to explain because they can be impossible to understand, between the jargon and the general murkiness of the effort. The general conception in the sub-prime derivatives — the Credit Default Swaps — was that while most of these mortgages were lousy mortgages, a very small percentage would default and result in foreclosure.  The demand would stay high, if not continue to grow exponentially, and therefore prices would continue to rise. When things started to fall apart, well, they fell apart quickly. Lots of people on Wall Street knew that the emperor was wearing no more than a striped loincloth; just nobody wanted to do anything about it.

If you listen to Barney Frank, one of the things he’s proudest of is the regulation of derivatives that was included in the financial reform act. Even Jim Cramer thinks that there needs to be effective regulation and an amped up SEC. He says in his interview with Matthews that without a strong regulator, a crook can get away with just about anything. Yet, the Republicans in the house want to cut the funding for the SEC and for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in half…as well as cut the IRS enforcement budget by half.

Ok, without strong regulations and strong enforcement, in this Ayn Randian world created by Laffler and Greenspan and Reagan and friends, the country is screwed. There used to be a concept of civic duty. Organizations and individuals were expected to share in the maintenance of the public good. We’ve learned that corporations –those soulless approximations of human beings, the legal fictions  with the rights of the individual with none of the risk — have no problem dodging their responsibilities. We know that people cheat on their taxes. The Republican Party has made the screwing with the tax rules their moral equivalent of standing in front of a tank in Tiannamen Square. So, if we are going to tax at a lower rate, shouldn’t we be collecting all the damn money owed? If there’s no chance of being caught, lots of folks will do whatever they can here.

At some point, revenue has to increase. The states are really in a bad way of course, and it appears that the best idea the new Moses, Chris Christy of New Jersey has that is sweeping statehouses is to piss, moan, insult and condemn public employees. Ok, there’s a gaggle of miserable pricks in DMV, say, and we all want to bitchslap those bastards. But, EMTs? Firefighters? Cops? Teachers? Really? That’s the solution…screw over hardworking people who risk their lives and their sanity and the lives and sanity of their families…How about the people who drive snow plows and sanders…can’t we shaft them? We’ll show those global warming people…The bad ideas just keep on coming

Anyway, Taibbi is right one target as usual, and the screaming match between Cramer and Matthews — who appear to agree — is illuminating and interesting on several levels.

View the original article at Veterans Today

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