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Pierce writes: "...over the course of a decade, a bunch of cheats, thieves, and suited mountebanks stole most of the national economy and then wrecked whatever was left of it. But what's most extraordinary about the whole thing is that, after they swindled their swindles and heisted their heists, and got paid off by the rest of us for having looted our national economy, they all kept doing the same things they were doing before."

A Citibank branch in New York. (photo: Reuters)
A Citibank branch in New York. (photo: Reuters)



Livin' in a Bankster's Paradise

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

17 February 12

 

f all the things for which I have little patience - Willard Romney, lottery machines in convenience stores, and the current state of the Montreal Canadiens, to name only three - the notion that the best way to deal with things is to "look forward, not back" is right at the top of the list. This is especially true as regards the undeniable fact that, over the course of a decade, a bunch of cheats, thieves, and suited mountebanks stole most of the national economy and then wrecked whatever was left of it. But what's most extraordinary about the whole thing is that, after they swindled their swindles and heisted their heists, and got paid off by the rest of us for having looted our naional economy, they all kept doing the same things they were doing before. These included extravagant bonuses and, of course, continued crimes of capital that ought to be capital crimes.

This is extraordinary. All this Citigroup fraud and thuggery took place after the events of the great meltdown had taken place. This whisteblower's co-workers, instead of checking for fraud or making reports about underwriting defects to the FHA as required, argued with her over the soundness of the loans, she said. Employees who acted as "gatekeepers" applied "what they describe as 'brute force' to pressure Citi's quality control managers" into downplaying defects, according to the government's complaint.

Some colleagues had pay incentives tied to reducing the number of reported problems, and they spent hours trying to get her to relax her warnings, including those about the most basic deficiencies, Hunt said. "They started beating us up over the quality-control reports," she said. Last year, she said, she became convinced she was being asked to look the other way on serious flaws. That's when she decided to become a whistle-blower.

Last year. The more I think about it, the more I believe that we, as a society, gave up on the pillory too soon. And $158.3 million is tip money for CitiGroup.

This is what happens when real punishment for real crimes is considered to be too inconvenient, or too difficult, or too traumatic for the nation, which is made up completely of candyglass children incapable of existing with the knowledge that their financial lords of the universe are really no different from stick-up kids in a bodega. This is what happens when nobody goes to jail. This is what happens today.

 

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+67 # Willman 2012-02-17 18:30
Those that hold the gold make the rules.
 
 
+46 # HJ7 2012-02-17 21:43
I was once told that in Norway (and perhaps other countries) everyone's taxable income and tax paid is publicly listed. Now that would be useful information if Wikileaks could publish the income and tax paid by the top 1% along with some idea as to what public good they achieved in order to earn such riches.
 
 
+42 # MEBrowning 2012-02-17 21:44
Chase Banks have been popping up all over my neighborhood of late; ugly, cheerless storefronts wrapped in cold cyan and steel gray. This, during one of our nation's worst economic crises, when many more Americans are going hungry and homeless than ever before — it's vulgar and disgusting. Makes me proud to be credit union member.
 
 
+10 # Karlus58 2012-02-18 10:55
Yes, I can attest to that in my own community. They are building quickly on every other corner.
 
 
+9 # ericlipps 2012-02-18 13:09
Quoting MEBrowning:
Chase Banks have been popping up all over my neighborhood of late; ugly, cheerless storefronts wrapped in cold cyan and steel gray. This, during one of our nation's worst economic crises, when many more Americans are going hungry and homeless than ever before — it's vulgar and disgusting. Makes me proud to be credit union member.


I've notices the same. It looks as though Chase made out like gangbusters from the financial crisis, at everyone else's expense.
 
 
+3 # lin96 2012-02-18 05:56
Physically yes. However, what goes around comes around. There a universal law that protects right and punishes wrong. If you continue to do what you know to be wrong, you can expect to pay in some way for those bad actions. You can call it the "golden rule" or "Good actions, good reactions, bad actions, bad reactions. As you give so you receive". There may be no time factor but you get what's coming to you.
 
 
-2 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-02-18 09:23
Lin96: An excellent comment! Karma is a Platonic and Buddhist concept which is based on Justice. Too many comments on the Posts espouse revenge and other forms of bad behavior, contradicting the Universal Law that protects, supports and encourages righteousness or doing the right thing no matter what the opposition is doing.
 
 
+11 # Doubter 2012-02-18 09:56
Right. "there may be no time factor."
I'd rather the banksters got theirs in THIS life rather than in the 'next.'
But that's the way the cookie crumbles.
 
 
+1 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-02-19 07:25
Good comment, Doubter!
 
 
+11 # Torvus 2012-02-18 13:07
There is no universal law. There is no fairness. Natural justice is a myth - we have to fight and fight hard and continually to get real present-day justice of some sort, and even then it's a 'maybe'. The only people who got what the banksters merited were the innocent, who had nothing to do with the criminals on Wall St and their pals, political or otherwise. Justice is supposed to be SEEN to be done. Why are there no pictures?
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2012-02-19 06:14
Sorry to be such a cynic but I just don't see that universal law. It is a universal fantasy. We all want there to be "justice in the end." But you'd have a hard time finding that principle at work in history or in any real case.

The US started out with some good first or universal principles. There were some bad ones as well, such as slavery. But the statement "all people are created equal" would have to -- sooner or later -- apply to all people, male and female, all races, all sexual orientations. Well it has been 236 years since that universal principle was written and I don't see that we are anywhere near equality in any sense of the word.

Have you read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. When the old Jim Crow or racial apartheid laws were no longer viable after the 60s, the racist elite in the US just switched strategies to create a regime of laws that keep African Americans in the same old racist and unjust and unequal conditions.

How long do we have to wait. I prefer Malcolm X's speech "The Ballot or the Bullet." Power never concedes anything peacefully. I don't mean the bullet literally, but I do mean full non-cooperation with the goal of making the horrible and unjust system that runs the US unworkable.
 
 
-3 # Martintfre 2012-02-19 06:04
Quoting Willman:
Those that hold the gold make the rules.


True dat if choice has anything to do with it - and then when FDR had a banking holiday in 1933 and declared US citizens holding gold as enemies of the state - we learned that those with monopoly power of government guns make the rule.
 
 
+32 # Dave45 2012-02-17 21:59
It is, as Pierce has explained so well, nothing short of "extraordinary" that the US has become a society with a two-tiered judicial system. Financial movers and shakers are rewarded after breaking the law and ruining the lives of countless people, while a teenager can get sent to prison for selling a marijuana cigarette to his friend. Presidents who start illegal and unconstitutiona l wars protect each other from prosecution while legal demonstrators are beaten on the spot and sometimes even killed. Perhaps the next kid that stands before a judge for selling a few joints to his friends could try his luck with the Obama defense, i.e., "Your honor, as our President has said, I think we should look ahead and put things like this behind us." He probably wouldn't get very far, even if he gave Obama what the boy considered to be a substantial campaign contribution.
 
 
-17 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-02-18 09:25
Dave45: Your point is???
 
 
+2 # ckosuda 2012-02-17 22:10
who is this writer?

we need a little background on this person, yes?

great article - too short - not enough details.
 
 
+1 # lincolnimp 2012-02-19 13:53
[quote name="ckosuda"] who is this writer?
I started wondering the same thing. He is best known for being a sportswriter, but has written books on other subjects such as Alzheimer's, Hubble telescope, and Ted Kennedy to name a couple. Here's a link to a short (and tongue-in-cheek ) biography on him:
http://www.charlespierce.net/aboutPage
 
 
+15 # cordleycoit 2012-02-17 22:26
Time to make a little adjustment? No it is time to make real changes.Otherwi se they will come for us with chains. .Let's stop moving the deck chairs around and make real chains.
 
 
+10 # Catch22 2012-02-17 22:50
Many people caight up in this this...either directly or indirectly are no different to the Nazis at the termination of WWII...we were following orders...the last refuge...TAG
 
 
+22 # grouchy 2012-02-17 23:14
Greed has always been at the core of American society--and thus things don't change that much. A shame.
 
 
+15 # amye 2012-02-17 23:19
And we are still given no real choices in the matter. Like a new president who would put the bankster candyasses in prison where they have belonged since 2008! Obama has proved he won't do it. We know Romney is one of them, So whose left? No one! Unless Americanselect actually get on all the state ballots and get a decent third party candidate who will honestly put them all in prison.
 
 
+19 # James Marcus 2012-02-17 23:36
Not extraordinary, at all....
....'Elementary', when you 'properly buy' the legislature, presidency, High Court. and most Major media outlets.....
 
 
+18 # Jude 2012-02-17 23:45
Concerted, collective outrage is the only thing I can see that would change this pathetic outcome. But the USA is not a collective kind of country.
 
 
+31 # m... 2012-02-17 23:55
This is what happens when CON(servatives) MEN decide to Con the citizens of a Republic into dismantling their government of themselves and then handing it all over--- power, the media, the press, law enforcement, the justice system, the military.., EVERYTHING.., over to CORPORATIONS..!
Welcome to the Outcome of the Reagan Revolution and the eternal, relentless quest for Less and Less and Less and Less and Less and Less and Less Government (of ourselves) through Less and Less and Less and Less and Less and Less Regulation and Taxation (of the Global Corporate Class).., along with and More and More and More and More and More and More Corporate Contracting of Government Functions on all levels into a million bits and useless pieces.
We the People have reduced Ourselves to We the Consumers in what is supposed to be OUR Country.
It was done because clever and cunning Conservatives repeatedly said-- OUR Government is evil, and Illegal Immigrants are robbing us, and Gays are bad, and Welfare Moms are bums, and the Disabled are opportunists, and Iraq needs to be destroyed and rebuilt, and Social security is UnAmerican, Environmentalis ts are whackos, Women's Rights are ridiculous, and those without Health Insurance are stupid, and the homeless are lazy, , and Government spends too much, and the nonexistent liberal media is destroying America, and Jesus is being insulted..., etc..,etc.
HEY..!-- LOOK..!-- Now its 1984 everyday in America Inc..!
 
 
+15 # Brewsir 2012-02-18 00:16
I seem to hold more rancour for the dog that is allowed to stray onto my unkempt lawn for deposit of solid material than our lawmakers consider for these thieves. Congress does seem to be riding shotgun while silk suited, grinning botoxed robbers rob. These miscreants also rather run than fight. I see them pulling together for a stand and I find myself thinking "at last". Take this underwater house and shove it! Rent/Sell to someone, pillaging their country. Credit ratings? Thats your thing. I'll pay cash. I plan to live within whatever means I have left. Hunkering down? That's right Mr/Ms Banker, you started it. You want to talk now? Let me see you hand over some of your thieves, speak with OWS in a manner that they label as respectful and I will listen. I will be standing straight with my back against a wall.
 
 
+14 # Larry 2012-02-18 02:05
As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
 
 
+4 # RLF 2012-02-20 05:51
He is certainly not me! He may be some conservative policeman in Chicago or some such moron, or he positively is a banker an wall st...but he ain't me!
 
 
+24 # RMDC 2012-02-18 05:12
We don't have a criminal justice system in the US. If you want to know what we have read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness. We have an apartheid system rather than a criminal justice system. Such a system is designed to protect a certain privileged class and suppress or destroy another class. The supreme court has made one decision after another that permits police to search and lock up black men but not to look at what bankers do.

This is Amerikkka. The old confederate apartheid south now runs the whole country. The aristocrats in the banking plantation are beyond the law. The rest of us know that if we get even a little outside the lines, we are going to prison.
 
 
+24 # Ken Hall 2012-02-18 05:34
Are we tired enuff of "smaller gov't" that it's time to rebuild a robust, powerful federal gov't that is responsive to We The People instead of the "Money Talks, Nobody Walks" gov't we've got now, the one that is so weak and powerless that it can't stand up to and regulate Big Bizz?
 
 
+20 # walt 2012-02-18 05:42
And Obama is still dragging his feet on prosecutions and has done far too little to help the citizens who have been affected, or more appropriately, "screwed over."

The American justice system!
 
 
+5 # RLF 2012-02-20 05:52
Obama paid taxes on $5 million last year...who do you think he is batting for?
 
 
+17 # Peace Anonymous 2012-02-18 06:49
Swindles for billions is acceptable. Try to get $50 out of a 7-11 and see what the justice system says then.

"Those that hold the gold rule"???? Which is exactly why democracy was embraced - so every man would be equal. You can write about the money but that is only a sign of the loss of democracy. The game is over. "Those that hold the gold rule."
So where do we go from here?
 
 
+12 # PeterSee 2012-02-18 07:03
I don't believe in capital punishment as a rule. It's most often applied in cases of crimes of passion and so does not act as a deterrent for anybody. But capital punishment for premeditated grand theft on this scale? That would give potential looters of the economy something to think about...
 
 
+20 # artful 2012-02-18 07:07
I love the term "banksters", since banking these days is really just a series of organized crime rings. Apparently, bankers looked at the mafia, took some lessons, but also decided that stealing under the guise of "banking" was a form of legalized crime unlikely to be reported, or indeed punished if it is reported. When I learned this morning that Moynihan, mafia chief of the B of A, had received lower compensation--$ 950,000 in pay, plus $5.9 million in stock "for his performance" last year, I wept for the poor dude. Think of it, he continues to rape the nation daily, and they dare to cut his pay.Poor fellow. He may have to begin dealing drugs, or take in laundry.
 
 
+10 # Peace Anonymous 2012-02-18 08:26
It isn't the money...IT IS THE BETRAYAL!!
 
 
+15 # angelfish 2012-02-18 09:39
I'm still waiting for some JUSTICE! WHERE is Accountability? WHERE is any SERIOUS investigation and Overhaul of an Out of Control Banking Industry? WHERE are the Consequences for ALL this INTENTIONAL Thievery and Ruination of living, breathing human beings? Unless and UNTIL these issues are addressed there can NEVER be any closure! I can't believe our "Justice" Department is allowing these CRIMINALS to wreak their Havoc with impunity with NO Regulation, added Over-sight or CHANGE in their Larcenous behaviors, as I write! A few PALTRY Million in fines and it's ALL supposed to go away? I don't think so! Come on, fellow Citizens, HOUND your Congressmen to get on THIS subject rather than all this claptrap Bull-Puckey about Contraception and a Woman's right to self-determinat ion! Nazi/Fascists, your days are numbered in Washington! The People, UNITED, will NEVER be defeated!
 
 
0 # Larkrise 2012-02-27 00:02
Indeed, no one has been punished for destroying the lives of millions in a wrecked economy. Ask yourselves, why is that? Who could have demanded justice? Who needed courage and ethics to demand it? Who has used smoke and mirrors to hide being joined at the hip with Big Banking, Big Oil, Big Pharm, Big Insurance, Big Chemicals, etc.,etc.? Who, besides the corrupt Rethuglicans, cares more about campaign donations than campaign promises? The lesser of two evils? How about two wrongs will never make a right!
 

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