If you lock a heroin addict in a room with heroin, you shouldn’t be shocked if he overdoses. If you give unlimited license to Wall Street speculators, whose only function is to make as much money as possible, you shouldn’t be surprised when the result is greed on steroids, reckless behavior and a disaster for ordinary people.Now we all wait to see whether the bizillions of dollars being spent by Wall Street to influence the Congressional debate on reform will prevail. As President Obama said,
What I don't want is a deal made that is written by the financial industry lobbyists; we've had enough of that."Enough, indeed. Enough that the vast majority of Americans believe that we must regulate Wall Street. But here's the problem: we Americans still worship the rich. We think the rich are smarter or better or at least luckier and happier than the rest of us. We want to be celebrities or sports stars or win the lottery or American idol to be like them. And we cannot have real reform when we simultaneously believe that greed is good. The answer to this contradiction lies not so much in the economic reform debate going on, but in another, more quiet movement for economic justice. The answer is to send some of the Wall Street fat cats to jail for their crimes against the people. And believe it or not, there is some movement afoot to do just that. A variety of Congress members are asking the Department of Justice to consider a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs. I realize sending fat cat bankers to jail is probably just a fantasy. And I'll admit that it is not the first time I have engaged in fantasy when it comes to the politics of the US. During the Bush years, when war became peace, lies became truth, greed was good and evil was necessary, I fantasized that Dubbya would be impeached and that his evil puppet master Dick Cheney would actually go to jail for crimes against humanity. In fact, I called then Congressman Sanders office on a weekly basis to suggest that my Congressman sign onto the impeachment protocols (he eventually did, but not because of me). [daylifegallery id="1272556119867"] But despite some real effort to bring the Bushies to justice, it all disappeared in a puff of bright HOPE and CHANGE and an exhortation from a new President to "move forward." Bye bye impeachment fantasies. Which was fine because I had new fantasies to dwell upon. In these fantasies, our representatives don some green tights and learn some serious archery skills. That's right- Robin Hood reps put those reckless, greedy Wall Street fat cats behind bars, taking their ill-gotten booty, and redistributing it to the very Americans whose riches the bankers had stolen (through usury, exploding interest rates, and other forms of infamy). And yet, deep down in my fantasy-laden subconscious, I know that truth and justice rarely occur in the real world. In other words, I'm crazy, but I'm not crazy enough to believe the bankers will be punished. And yet, there is a letter signed by more than 60 lawmakers to the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs. Spearheaded by Representative Marcy Kaptur, (D-OH), and containing more than 140,000 signatures from American citizens (a campaign spearheaded by Move On), the letter ends with these lines:
We in Congress stand ready to support you in protecting the American taxpayers from financial crimes such as the fraud that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Goldman Sachs with committing. We ask that you take up this case, and others, to pursue justice for the American people, to put criminals in jail, and seek to restore the integrity of our nation’s financial system.Ah, now that would be a fantasy come true.