If I sell you a disk that I tell you has Windows 7 on it and you get that disk home and find out that it only has the Windows 7 logo, that’s a problem. Bankers sold the American public mortgages that they knew would blow up in a couple of years. Why isn’t that fraud?
The Great Recession showed the world that the crimes that create the most victims are not committed by terrorists, gangbangers or drug traffickers, but by well-heeled crooks in Wall Street’s executive suites. Tens of millions of people have seen their jobs disappear and their pension funds fleeced, and had their homes taken out from under their feet as a result of the crash of Wall Street’s Great Casino. Yet so far, the culprits have been given little more than a slap on the wrist.
Failing to prosecute Wall Street’s high-flying crooks doesn’t only represent a great miscarriage of justice. Powerful voices within the economic establishment are now making the case that holding the bankers criminally culpable is necessary if we ever hope to stop our national economy from moving from one speculation-driven bubble to the next.
Nobel-prize winner Joe Stiglitz recently told AOL’s Daily Finance that major damage resulting from the financial disaster “has not really been taken on board, and that is confidence in our legal system, in our rule of law, in our system of justice.” His prescription? “I think we ought to go do what we did” in the wake of similar financial crises in the past, and “actually put many of these guys in prison.”