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8 Oct, 2010 21:15

Wall Street CEOs still not in jail

Faces of villains who had a hand in the cause of the financial collapse are appearing around the world. They’re being prosecuted in their country’s court systems and some are going to jail.

But one place this isn’t happening is the United States.

It’s an idea that has been brought up, however, several times, by US Lawmakers.

I had experience as a public prosecutor years ago and found that criminal convictions work as an appropriate measure punishment and worked as a deterrent to others,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA).

There really is a crisis in this country and I don’t think it’s a populist statement,” said Sen. Ted Kaufman, (D-DE). “I just think there’s a crisis in terms of people thinking there are two different sets of rules.”

In France, Jerome Kerviel tried to play by his own rules when he took part in extremely risky betting on the markets, which left the French Bank Societe Generale in the midst of scandal.

The judge at Paris’s Palais de Justice said he broke rules, threatened the stability of his firm and of global financial order. He was given three years in prison, a sentence that drew gasps from those present in the courtroom, and also ordered to pay the equivalent of about $7 Billion.

In Iceland, the parliament there decided former Prime Minister Geir Haarde should be held criminally responsible for negligence for the collapse of his country’s financial collapse.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Haarde said, “Of course, there were mistakes made in the political process, that’s for sure. I have some responsibility for that. I have paid the political price for that by leaving politics.”

Many there think he should pay a bigger price. He faces two years behind bars if convicted.

Back in the US Capitol, AFL-CIO attorney and TARP Congressional Oversight Panel member Damon Silvers stated the obvious.

There is a public perception in the wake of events of 2008 that unfortunately has some justification that a small number of wealthy and powerful Americans did vast damage to our country and to the lives of millions of families with relatively no personal consequences.”

Richard Jackall, author of “Moral Mazes – The World of Corporate Managers”, said he wasn’t shocked at all. In his research he found that in the United States, the corporate system is designed in such a way that keeps those making decisions separate from the consequences of their actions.

Corporate managers who make a decision in say, New York to close a plant in Indianapolis never really have to meet the men and women in Indianapolis who’ve lost their jobs as a result of their decisions,” he said.

The same holds true for Wall Street and big banks. Those approving risky loans, or bundling bad debt and betting against it probably do not have to drive on streets filled with foreclosed homes. However, collectively, their decisions led to nearly three million home foreclosures a year, not to mention the more than eight million jobs lost, and a drowning economy still gasping for air.

For evidence of the lack of responsibility, Jackall said one place to look is at the pay scales of executives in financial firms.

He said, “No matter whether the firms did well or poorly, these folks always got paid extremely well. In other words, there is no relationship between work and reward.”

Shouldn’t a broken system be fixed?

Well it seems still despite all that’s happened; those charged with fixing it are the same ones benefitting from keeping it just as it is.

The US financial system is full of corruption, and they’re not alone, the US congress is corrupt too, argued Michael T. Snyder, the founder of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com.

Where in the world do you begin – do you being with Goldman Sachs and the horrific things they did to help because the housing collapse? Do you begin with JP Morgan and their tremendous manipulation of the gold and silver markets?” asked Snyder. “It also extends to the US congress. There’s so much corruption in the US congress that they are hesitant to investigate anyone else in case their own corruption could be exposed.”

Snyder explained that US politicians, including US President Barack Obama, receive large amounts of political donations from Wall Street’s major financial institutions. The top political donors in Washington are the biggest financial firms and politicians not likely to investigate their biggest finacnail backers.

American CEOs are sitting on cash as opposed to spending it and allowing the benefits to trickle down.

The truth is they aren’t really interested in turning it [the economy] around,” said Snyder. “Today we see 46.6 million Americans are not living in Poverty according to the Census Bureau.”

Main Street isn’t being helped out,” he added.

In addition, Snyder argued that many Americans are not aware how bad the economy actually is; they still believe the economy will turn around soon.

“The US economy used to be the wealthiest most powerful economic nation on the earth, but the United States is now a nation in decline. Since 2001 over 42,000 factories have shut their doors. As you reported earlier, they’re going overseas and they’re not coming back. But, the American people just really don’t understand this yet, they still think that this is just a recession, things are going to turn around, but things are not going to turn around,” Snyder said.

The US needs more people in government with integrity willing to go after those who break the law. The US economic system will continue to deteriorate unless the government addresses the problems appropriately, argued Snyder.