Comes now the ever-salient Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone with a good essay on why pretty much no one was ever charged with a crime for blowing up the U.S. (and world) economy in 2008. He said prosecutors became even more gun-shy about going after white-collar criminals after the 2002 prosecution and subsequent collapse of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, when 28,000 jobs were lost. He writes that the threat of more employees getting laid off became like a hostage-taking:
I get that regulators are worried about job losses. They should be. But the long-term job losses are going to be much greater when investors around the world lose confidence in the U.S. financial system because they recognize that individuals do not face punishment for criminal activity. The individual incentive not to commit crime on Wall Street now is almost zero. Even the worst of the worst – like, say, a certain unindicted co-conspirator in an evolving insider trading case – is only threatened with individual prosecution after years of monstrous and obvious market manipulation, resulting in massive profits that he'll almost certainly get to keep most of, by the way, if previous settlements are any guide.
It continually amazes, the way all of these law-and-order types are so willing to pontificate about the importance of taking individual responsibility for one's actions, until the guy in their crosshairs is someone he/she went to college with, or a former client of his or her law firm. Then, suddenly, their idea of drastic justice becomes maybe yanking the license of a foreign subsidiary.
That's it, isn't it? Class solidarity. Prosecutors have a fear of prosecuting, and journalists have a fear of investigating, people who look and act like them, who went to the same elite schools and live down the street in the same cushy suburb. How could somebody like me be a criminal?
Blogger's note: Since people here are fond of analyzing and interpreting my light workload, you should know that I'm taking a well-deserved early start to my already early weekend. See you on Sunday, God willing.