RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Excerpt: "While everyone from Tony Blair to Nouriel Roubini is debating whether or not bankers should be hung, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg provide some fascinating historical context."

Wat Tyler leads the Peasant's Revolt against the feudal system in London, 06/13/1381. (art: unknown)
Wat Tyler leads the Peasant's Revolt against the feudal system in London, 06/13/1381. (art: unknown)

Will the Peasants Go Medieval on Bankers?

By Washington's Blog

06 August 12


hile everyone from Tony Blair to Nouriel Roubini is debating whether or not bankers should be hung, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg provide some fascinating historical context.

The journal's Jason Zweig reports:

Financial criminals throughout history have been beaten, tortured and even put to death, with little evidence that severe punishments have consistently deterred people from misconduct that could make them rich.

The history of drastic punishment for financial crimes may be nearly as old as wealth itself.

The Code of Hammurabi, more than 3,700 years ago, stipulated that any Mesopotamian who violated the terms of a financial contract - including the futures contracts that were commonly used in commodities trading in Babylon - "shall be put to death as a thief." The severe penalty doesn't seem to have eradicated such cheating, however.

In medieval Catalonia, a banker who went bust wasn't merely humiliated by town criers who declaimed his failure in public squares throughout the land; he had to live on nothing but bread and water until he paid off his depositors in full. If, after a year, he was unable to repay, he would be executed - as in the case of banker Francesch Castello, who was beheaded in 1360. Bankers who lied about their books could also be subject to the death penalty.

In Florence during the Renaissance, the Arte del Cambio - the guild of mercantile money-changers who facilitated the city's international trade - made the cheating of clients punishable by torture. Rule 70 of the guild's statutes stipulated that any member caught in unethical conduct could be disciplined on the rack "or other corrective instruments" at the headquarters of the guild.

But financial crimes weren't merely punished; they were stigmatized. Dante's Inferno is populated largely with financial sinners, each category with its own distinctive punishment: misers who roll giant weights pointlessly back and forth with their chests, thieves festooned with snakes and lizards, usurers draped with purses they can't reach, even forecasters whose heads are wrenched around backward to symbolize their inability to see what is in front of them.

Counterfeiting and forgery, as the historian Marvin Becker noted in 1976, "were much less prevalent in Florence during the second half of the fourteenth century than in Tuscany during the twentieth century" and "the bankruptcy rate stood at approximately one-half [the modern rate]."

In England, counterfeiting was punishable by death starting in the 14th century, and altering the coinage was declared a form of high treason by 1562.

In the 17th century, the British state cracked down ferociously on counterfeiters and "coin-clippers" (who snipped shards of metal off coins, yielding scraps they could later melt down or resell). The offenders were thrown into London's notorious Newgate prison. The lucky ones, after being dragged on planks through sewage-filled streets, were hanged. Others were smeared with tar from head to toe, tied or shackled to a stake, and then burned to death.

The British government was so determined to stamp out these financial crimes that it put Sir Isaac Newton on the case. Appointed as warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, Newton promptly began uncovering those who violated the financial laws of the nation with the same passion he brought to discovering the physical laws of the universe.

The great scientist was tireless and merciless. Newton went undercover, donning disguises to prowl through prisons, taverns and other dens of iniquity in search of financial fraud. He had suspects brought to the Mint, often by force, and interrogated them himself. In a year and a half, says historian Carl Wennerlind, Newton grilled 200 suspects, "employing means that sometimes bordered on torture."

When one counterfeiter begged Newton to save him from the gallows - "O dear Sr no body can save me but you O God my God I shall be murderd unless you save me O I hope God will move your heart with mercy and pitty to do this thing for me" - Newton coldly refused.

The counterfeiter was hanged two weeks later.

Until at least the early 19th century, it remained commonplace for counterfeiters and forgers to be put to death; between 1792 and 1829, for example, notes Wennerlind, 618 people were convicted of counterfeiting British paper currency, and most of them were hanged. Many were women.

Bloomberg provides details of one "peasant revolt" stemming from a Libor-like currency manipulation scheme:

During the "Good Parliament" of 1376, public discontent over [manipulation of currency exchange rates similar to the current Libor scandal] came to a head. The Commons, represented by the speaker, Peter de la Mare, accused leading members of the royal court of abusing their position to profit from public funds.

A particular target was the London financier Richard Lyons ….

Initially the government bowed to public pressure. Lyons was imprisoned in the Tower of London and his properties and wealth were confiscated. Other leading courtiers implicated in these abuses, such as Latimer and the king's mistress, Alice Perrers, were banished from court.

Once parliament had dissolved and the public outcry had died down, however, the king's eldest son, John of Gaunt, acted to reverse the verdicts of the Good Parliament. Latimer and Perrers soon reappeared at the king's side and Lyons was released from the Tower and recovered his wealth, while the "whistleblower" de la Mare was thrown in jail. The government also sought to appease the wealthy knights and merchants that dominated parliament by imposing a new, regressive form of taxation, a poll tax paid by everyone rather than a tax levied on goods. This effectively passed the burden of royal finance down to the peasantry.

It seemed as though everything had returned to business as normal and Lyons appeared to have gotten away with it. In 1381, however, simmering discontent over continuing suspicions of government corruption and the poll tax contributed to a massive popular uprising, the Peasants' Revolt, during which leading government ministers, including Simon of Sudbury (the chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury) and Robert Hales (the treasurer) were executed by the rebels. This time, Lyons did not escape; he was singled out, dragged from his house and beheaded in the street.

If the King had followed the rule of law - and kept Lyons and the boys in jail - everything would have calmed down. The monarchy - just like the present-day government - chose to ignore the rule of law, and protect the thieves and punish the whistleblowers.

We have argued for years that the best way to avoid violence is to reinstate the rule of law.

The Bloomberg article - written by a professor of the history of finance and a professor of finance at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School, University of Reading - ends on a similar note:
The question now is whether public outrage at the Libor scandal and other financial misdeeds [like these] will lead to fundamental reforms of the financial sector - such as the separation of retail and investment banking or legislation to regulate the "bonus culture" - or just more cosmetic changes that fail to address the structural issues.

Will we have to wait for a 21st century peasants' revolt before seeing any real change? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+107 # Capn Canard 2012-08-06 13:32
Time to bring back those old criminal penalties to encourage the wealthy to comply with the law. Their compliance seems like an afterthought. To insure that they comply means that several would need to be publicly executed to give those who are possibly guilty some visual reference for what happens when they are caught cheating. No slap on the wrist of a "Monetary Fine", I suggest we need a full beheading instead. Because we all know, it is the poor who pay for the crimes of the wealthy.
+58 # 666 2012-08-06 16:21
To paraphrase the Englishman Simon de Montfort, "hang them all, God will know his own."
+7 # NAVYVET 2012-08-07 04:34
WRONG!! How dare you degrade the accomplishments of the great English revolutionary Simon de Montfort, by confusing him with his mass-murderer, greedy French father?
Simon Jr. was for centuries--stil l is--an inspiration to English people who long for fair, widely democratized government. Simon Sr. wanted to conquer territory--and led a hideous fanatic crusade against the Catholic church's only major rivals in Languedoc, the Albigensians (Cathars). The crusaders wiped out the Cathars--but not heresy, which went underground and carried dissent into modern times. Your error proves how poor American education is.
+15 # NAVYVET 2012-08-07 04:44
I am greatly disturbed by the violent tone of many of these comments. Understand that except for a few desperate rebellions--lik e the French Jacquerie, who were violently crushed--histor ically rebellions for economic leveling and democratic reforms tended to have peaceful goals. Some were entirely peaceable. The more they were, the more successful the results. In 1381, spiritual leader John Ball, released from a church prison, sent out letters exhorting "Keep the peace and stay therein". "Take enough and then say Halt." He led a revolution, but "For love, for love, for love!" He reminds me of Martin Luther King. The ones who love people and avoid bloodshed are the winners.
+8 # dkonstruction 2012-08-07 14:29
NAVYVET, while i would certainly agree that "rebellions for economic levelling and democratic reforms tended to have peaceful goals" i'm not sure i would agree that "except for a few" most were carried out by peaceful means including all of the classical "bourgeois" revolutions (and were not the English, whom you reference the first to lop off a king's head?).

As for MLK, Malcolm X used to say that King would not have gotten what he got (e.g., all of the historic civil rights legislation) without the more radical rhetoric of Malcolm and then the Black Power Movement (King himself came to carry a weapon for self-defense).

So, violence (as a tactic; it is not a strategy and never a goal) or in Malcolm's terms armed self-defense should be a legitimate topic for discussion and debate (not saying i come down one way or the other necessarily). Were those that tried to assassinate Hitler wrong because they were trying to remove him by using violent means? Was the Paris Commune "wrong" because it came to power by means of violence? Was John Brown or other violent slave rebellions wrong? And there are different types of violence are there not e.g., violence against people as opposed to violence against property.

Serious and complicated questions where there are often no easy or "black and white" answers but, nonetheless, i think they are important conversations for any social movement to have.
+58 # maddave 2012-08-06 17:17
,OK, Cap'n, just whom dio you nominate to affect this reversion to law and order? Corpor.ate America and Wall Street own our Congress and most of the Administration by virtue of campaign donations. The SEC and bank-regulators are, likewise, beholden to---if not scions of --- such financial behemoths as Goldman Sacks, CityCorp, BankAmerica, etc ... from whence they come and whether they will surely return! You don't for even a second that they will foul their well-feathered nests in the interim, do you? 00

The ONLY answer is for We The People to get ALL private & corporate funds out of our election process AND for us to close the revolving doors between our National Bureaucracy & Congress (including staff members) on the one hand and .Corporate America & Wall Street on the other. One (person) cannot serve two masters!

Sack Citizens United and fund all national elections exclusively from the general funds. To do this we need the courts on our side. This was the primary concern when I decided to support Obama! He appoints reasonably fair federal Judges and Justices - for life!

P. S. And while we are at it, we need to give him a clear majority in the House and sixty hard-and-fast progressives in the Senate! Without these, it's going to ne another long, hard, negative and nasty four years.
+30 # JH Gordon 2012-08-06 19:31
I couldn't have said it better myself. Wait, I have said it myself. We need to demand a change in the Tax Code eliminating all deductions to political PACs and payments made to and through lobbyists as well.

Good post.

JH Gordon
Kindle books.
+29 # Tigre1 2012-08-06 20:16
I honestly hope for guillotines patrolling Wall and K Streets, and maybe a few others as well. As some others have pointed out, I also believe SCOTUS to be totally bought and DOJ to be essentially so.

Which legal redress for our petitions and evidence of wrong.

Hence a brief, bloody outbreak which would lead to the UN setting up Nuremburg style courts for the financial criminal class...left remaining.

Infestations must be cleansed of rot, and Sandy Weill certainly comes to mind.
+8 # RLF 2012-08-07 05:05
Have you seen one serious investigative story about the justices? Only summaries of small things. Someone needs to follow these guys around for a year with binoculars!
+5 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-08-07 23:00
Matt Taibbi's reporting in Rolling Stone. Best investigation and analyses of the financial scandals that I've seen, going back a few years now.
+2 # fliteshare 2012-08-06 22:52
They will all proudly wear their chip.
+5 # Ralph Averill 2012-08-07 02:20
It's all about Congress in 2012!
+6 # RLF 2012-08-07 05:03
We also need a two election cycle to end the problem of there being no one worth a crap to vote for and third party candidates afraid to run for fear of throwing the election to the opposite side. Australia has got this one right.
+3 # Capn Canard 2012-08-07 20:36
Fat Chance any of it will happen without a complete change in power. No, and your fantasy of American elections will not help you in pursuit of effecting change. Our system is bought and paid for and you and I and everyone reading this have no real control. I do have only one question: do you think cooler heads will prevail? Is that how gets things done? If so then name one time when change happened and no blood was spilt. Go ahead and take your time. Because we all know that money/power is far more of a motivator than voting.
+16 # newsmom 2012-08-06 19:26
since i don't subscribe to the notion of capital punishment i can't give a "thumbs up" here, but i sure as heck wish some of these fat-cat bankers would go to prison for a long, long time. but since we're stuck with a corrupt banking system, a spineless and lazy SEC and a useless congress, we'll just have to wait it out...unless at some point a spineless public becomes so overwrought by foreclosures and insufficient food that they vote the do-nothings out.
+6 # jky1291 2012-08-07 03:06
It is too late to wait, because if we fail this election the 1% will have disenfranchised a majority of those who disagree with them and will have rigged the electoral system beyond salvage with their unlimited use of our stolen tax dollars for their corrupt greedy benefit.
+5 # RLF 2012-08-07 05:06
And not a country club prison...Alcatr az or a labor prison.
+3 # Carol Sterritt 2012-08-07 17:50
Alcatraz is now a museum, where tourists go to learn about the history of the place. But I do agree with your major point - let the financial crooks work in chain gangs and live on bread and water for a year.
+10 # mdhome 2012-08-06 21:21
Shall I bring the tar or the stake? Please kind sir let me know.
0 # DavePrice 2012-08-09 15:04
While the criminals own the politicians, nothing will ever be done, to the criminals that is.
+57 # davidr 2012-08-06 13:44
Nice thought that "public outrage [might] lead to fundamental reforms of the financial sector", but I wonder whether American society will be in the forefront.

Whatever else it may be, whatever else it ought to be, the "American dream" is about getting rich. Our founding document derives from the idea that government is instituted to protect "life, liberty and property."

From long before that we started with the "Protestant work ethic," which boils down to the idea that God loves rich people, and the poor have somehow pissed Him off.

From one generation to the next we've accepted bubbles, busts, bribery and banking fraud. Through it all, the cultural supposition is that the righteous prosper, the poor are unworthy. Economic issues are not matters of social justice, but like spiritual matters, are to be addressed solely by individuals looking within themselves.

What the religious right and the corporatists have in common is that they both imagine themselves to be "doing God's work". Unfortunately, until we see financial gain in other terms, I won't hold my breath waiting for outrage or justice.
+11 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:28
`whew...harsh realities...tks !
+19 # douglassmyth 2012-08-06 19:11
It's true; this is the contemporary culture. But that's not immutable. In the 30's and 40's, the wealthy were suspect, fat cats--and highly taxed. They were even objects of ridicule: no wonder they hated FDR with a passion. Note: that after 1939, the year I was born, the US experienced much greater growth despite (maybe because of?) the resultant high rates of taxation for the wealthy than it has ever since.
+27 # dkonstruction 2012-08-06 14:31
The problem with this piece is that it makes no distinction between different types of "financial crimes" and thus in many ways rewrites history to make them all seem the same instead of understanding that some "financial crimes" are perpetrated by the ruling classes upon the masses of people (those that i would deem to be "real" financial crimes) and those that are perpetrated by people at the bottom and are in fact part of the movement of political resistance of those at the bottom to the opppression of the ruling classes (e.g., "clipping coins" or counterfeiting) . For example, the author mentions Dante but doesn't mention that political and religous frauds/corrupti on are consigned to a lower level in hell than those guilty of financial crimes. There is also no discussion of counterfeiting as a strategy for not being subjected to the rule of the market and the money economy. It also doesn't mention that in England there were those such as the Ranters, Diggers and Levellers that were fighting against the privatization of "the commons" and for "leveling" the social order so that all were economically equal or that in England (as Peter Linebaugh shows in his wonderful book "The London Hanged" that, for the most part, those that were given the death penalty were political criminals fighting against the existing ruling order and not "financial criminals" being "justly" punished.
+17 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 15:16
I found both takes to be rather light hearted...sorta like, 'nothing new here, move right along now peasants', 'this is just the way it is...see...clea r back to Hammurabi it was this way'.

One way or another though, some had to feel the wrath of the peasants.

Who will it be this time?


Sadly brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department Department.
+7 # Beth Carter 2012-08-06 23:23
Since when have the peasants ever had other effective recourse? The greedy just push their luck until there's no other option for the peasants but to die or revolt, which could lead to the same result, but at least a peasant could voice protest to possibly save his life or the life of loved ones. With all these lawyers running around making drastic, left-field change illegal, what else is there to do? Even admitting this much could land me on some terrorist list because I can see clearly that we need drastic change. JFK said that if peaceful change isn't allowed to happen then violent change is next. I'm paraphrasing of course. But really, when have the rich and powerful ever in history pulled themselves up short from excesses to avoid disaster?
+19 # hobbesian 2012-08-06 15:19

not "hung"; pictures are hung, also juries.
otherwise - good.
+14 # JH Gordon 2012-08-06 18:20
Of course "hung" refers to what one may find packaged in a codpiece... He was, or he will be hanged is proper, even if discussion of his codpiece be too bold.

You may quote me word for word or verbatim.
+5 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:30
roflmao...excel lent...witty... bold n hung!
+4 # Dean 2012-08-06 18:53
one wouldn't dare to indulge in pleosasm, or even needless repetition, with someone as astute as yourself. And codpieces? Heaven forbid, sir!
+43 # fredboy 2012-08-06 15:21
It's probably time, as everything else has failed. Need to head them off at the pass, before they destroy the nation and create overt chaos. Jefferson tried to warn us.
+32 # MidwestTom 2012-08-06 15:28
John Corzine, ex-Goldman Sacks, man who single-handedly brought down MFGlobal and admitted in an email to moving $200 million to his Swiss bank account is still not charged with anything. MFGlobal was a clearing house which is supposed to simply process individual stock orders; however, under Corzine's leadership that took what was not theirs and gambled with it in the futures market and lost big time.
+8 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:31
vote for the '0'...that'll help.
+8 # Tigre1 2012-08-06 20:19
One more time: need further proof that DOJ is bought and owned outright?
+45 # rcossebo 2012-08-06 15:36
Hum, think there was a REASON why Jesus cast out the MONEY CHANGES from the Temple???
+10 # MylesJ 2012-08-06 17:42
Read about Jubilee. Christ was railing at them for not following the laws of Jubilee in the Old Testament. He tried to get the poor people behind him to press this protest, so the power structure killed him.
+2 # bmiluski 2012-08-07 09:15
The power structure killed Christ because he was purposly provoking Pontius Pilate. The Jewish hierarchy was trying to prevent bloodshed. Pilate was known as a very cruel and sadistic governor. Even Rome told him to dial back the killing. He was just waiting for any excuse to kill hundreds of people to make a point.
+34 # luvdoc 2012-08-06 15:55
The greatest (and original) sin is that of greed. The various punishments outlined in this excellent essay are righteous indeed.

The Dimon's, and the vultures, of wall street deserve to suffer. May we have the strength to make examples of them all.

+25 # grouchy 2012-08-06 16:04
I'd go for public tar and feathering--may be also
stick it on t.v. and facebook?
+26 # reiverpacific 2012-08-06 16:39
Tony Blair indeed: to the Tower with him I say!
He's one of the most materialistic, greedy and ambitious examples of somebody who would perhaps have been done in in the old days in spite of his new Holy-Roman persona and UN patsy role to the Middle East.
Not to mention of course his leading role as a war criminal and Dimwit's Quisling.
But these bastards are REWARDED now rather than being put to confinement in a max' prison (where the general inmate population, many of whom are in for far less offenses than they have perpetrated on the rest of us, would no doubt make "good sport" of 'em) and have the gaul like Goldman -Sach's CEO Lloyd Blankfield in claiming to be "doing God's work" with a straight face.
I'd rather it was a re-hot poker straight up where the sun don' shine!
But they are protected from their comeuppance by their shills in elected office and too much power who won't go after even a little bit of the corruption, so interlaced are they in the whole thing and that includes the so-called supreme judiciary, especially Scalia and Thomas.
"Off with their heads" -or at the very least restitution to the common good and removal of their ill-gotten worldly excessive gains and tax havens.
But who'se to do it? -We the peasantry! Revolution is again called for, as they have become what their forebears sought to escape -a kind of absolute, unaccountable hereditary monarchy of power and means.
+3 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:33
I feel your pain...

Proudly brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department Department.
+36 # Terrapin 2012-08-06 16:46
Hmmm ... How come "Tough on Crime®" NEVER extends to the White Collar / Financial criminals.
Just asking?
+15 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:40
Money talks...bullshi t walks.

THEY = 'the money'

WE = 'the talkin' n walkin' n ankle grabbin' n sand breathin' n tvmachine mesmerized...

OH!!...then there is the Kardasians n The Bud, n the meat skirts, n the Trump'nit 'all...sauced with fake-reality tv, n gawd will sort it all out so jus' turn that desert to glass...

America DID have real potential...onc e.
+12 # Vern Radul 2012-08-06 19:01
Try taking out a subprime mortgage from a crooked banker, then lose your job and not be able to afford the payments as your market value falls to a fraction of what you "owe", and you'll find out pretty fast who gets labelled a criminal and how quick that "Tough on Crime" hammer comes down on you....http://r eadersupportedn 2/279-82/12802- focus-will-the- peasants-go-med ieval-on-banker s#
+19 # Phoenician 2012-08-06 17:00
It seems that even the Death Penalty was not enough to keep them on the 'Straight and Narrow', but it could be a useful step.
Perhaps a good start would be to re-introduce the Stocks. NO, NOT those from the Stock Exchange, but those Stocks which hold the malefactor fast by his wrists and ankles, while those he cheated pelt him with rotten veg - which is his sole source of food for a week. And NO, he does NOT get to go to the bathroom.
The Death Penalty might not even be necessary after a week of the Stocks.
+19 # linkedout 2012-08-06 17:04
It might be really useful to have a list of names and addresses of anybody who works above - oh, let's just say - the fourth level of management in a financial institution. I'm just sayin' that you never know when a list like that could come in handy.

Heck, the way the word is these days anything could happen - ya' know?
+5 # Tigre1 2012-08-06 20:22
You need a receptionist etc who can give you a phone book for the company...or drop in yourself, ask to look at it, and split...
+4 # Interested Observer 2012-08-06 17:06
When it comes to execution it's "hanged" not "hung".
+9 # noitall 2012-08-06 17:24
You say we're going medieval on the bastards? Good! but not today or this weekend, bad time, the big game and all, barbque and wedding. What do you say we go medieval after the playoffs...but then the pre-season start ups...Are these guys really THAT bad? Maybe we're over reacting.
+2 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:43 boyz doan like all that...stuff ya cain't do nuthin' 'bout.
0 # ghostperson 2012-08-08 00:05
+18 # NAVYVET 2012-08-06 17:24
I was educated as a Medievalist, and love those feisty folk whom a famous historian called "full of beans"! My speciality was the English Revolt of 1381. More than a peasants' rising, it attracted the lower & middle classes from knights, burgesses & priests to craftspersons & villeins. Its causes were a lot more complex than this article states--an attempt to free all the serfs (in England "villeins"), to force redistribution of wealth and power, and to resist payment of an onerous poll (head) tax. But financiers were specially targeted.

I'd like to send the Ten Demands presented to the king by the rebels in London, but RSN gives us too little space. I'll end here and send another message with the Ten Demands. You will find them exciting and familiar!
+7 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:45
Write an article on those Ten Demands...easy to do, intro paragraph, the demands, and a short take on their effect...I look forward to your take!
+4 # Majikman 2012-08-07 01:00
I 2nd that, navyvet. Put it on godot.
+5 # noitall 2012-08-06 17:26
I think Diebold got ahold of the thumbs up/down buttons on this site. You hit thumbs down and it registers as a +. My all our votes be micro-managed!!


I promise you, noitall, we do not contract to Diebold for the thumbs-vote count.

While you are reading a comment many other people are also reading it, and voting. When you click a thumbs up or down it refreshes the count with the total of all the votes during that period of time - not just yours.

To see an accurate reflection of your vote refresh the page and then vote right away.
+4 # paulrevere 2012-08-06 18:46
I appreciate the moderators patience and consistency on that explanation...t ks!
+14 # mike/ 2012-08-06 17:35
if they don't go "Medieval" it could be just a matter of time before they go July 14, 1789 or February 23, 1848 or February 1917...
+4 # Tigre1 2012-08-06 20:23
I hope hope hope...
+17 # mgwmgw 2012-08-06 17:35
America will not be at the forefront. We already know that Iceland is.
+17 # Jyl 2012-08-06 18:04
It amazes that the populace knows exactly what the matter is but time passes, endlessly, without action on anyone's part. It's as though trained to grin and bear it. It amazes me, the pride, passion and loyalty in Americans *for* America, no matter what is foist upon them, or how they are turned against, by their own. One isn't "hung," by the way, as in the first paragraph, except referrable to one's trousers' contents.
+1 # Majikman 2012-08-07 01:03
Patience, Jyl. Can't you hear the rumblings? Kinda like a cactus does just before the 1000's of baby tarantulas burst forth
+9 # wrodwell 2012-08-06 18:05
Banker crooks......cor rupt politicians.... .dragged from their homes.....behea ded on the street.......
Hey, why not give it a try here?
+24 # JH Gordon 2012-08-06 18:31
Capital punishment for financial crimes? A life is too precious to waste. A banker should be put to the kind of labor we need. Swampers are needed in the sewers, and somebody has to eat that GMO food.
+8 # dick 2012-08-06 18:22
We ALL know ObamaDems don't have the balls to even point the finger at them. ObombaDems want US to focus on elderly T-Party costumed crack-pots, not the Organized Crime Families of our time. They have ObamaDems bought off, sold out, on their knees, intimidated, suckered, rolled over, &, yes, bent over. But we're the ones REALLY taking it for them. Obama runs around promulgating the Big Lie they paid him to repeat: "But they didn't do anything illegal." He's too gutless to ever name them. Sorry.
+7 # Vern Radul 2012-08-06 18:36
Two months into his presidency, Obama summoned the titans of finance to the White House, where he told them, "MY ADMINISTRATION IS THE ONLY THING BETWEEN YOU AND THE PITCHFORKS"
[snip] April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin, after a two-year inquiry, issued a fat report detailing several transactions, including Goldman's Abacus deal, that Levin and his staff believed should be investigated by Justice as possible crimes.
Meanwhile, Obama's political operation continued to ask Wall Street for campaign money. A curious pattern developed. A Newsweek examination of campaign finance records shows that, in the weeks before and after last year's scathing Senate report, several Goldman executives and their families made large donations to Obama's Victory Fund and related entities, some of them maxing out at the highest individual donation allowed, $35,800, even though 2011 was an electoral off-year. Some of these executives were giving to Obama for the first time.
+10 # Duster 2012-08-06 20:13
You want to skip the "left-right" stupidity. It was the entire D.C. political spectrum that scr**** the pooch so royally. Don't forget that TARP started under the Bush administration. Obama merely continued with its implementation. The reversals of regulations instituted following the Ddepression were undertaken by Reagan and the elder Bush and finished by Clinton who evidently never said a word against the foolishness.

"Left-Right" is a delusion foisted on a public that really wants to believe that anyone can climb the wealth ladder. That is only true when a new economic field emerges and even there old wealth has the handy capital to take advantage, if they have a clue. Look where Bil Gates came from. "Left-Right" keeps you looking for commnists and captialists under your beds.
+3 # The Saint 2012-08-06 19:03
Beheading sounds like an appropriate penalty. Castration assumes too much equipment that they definitely lack. Maybe beheading on Wall Street and covered by Cable News (not Fox which would have only headless announcers)
+12 # pernsey 2012-08-06 19:47
Will the Peasants Go Medieval on Bankers? I sure as heck hope so!

The rich banks need to know they arent above the law.
+9 # bobby t. 2012-08-06 20:25
why do i feel like all of us are simply fiddling while the whole earth burns. does oklahoma ring any bells? does the word world wide droughts and heat waves sound familiar. it really does not matter who we elect or don't elect. we can not stop what is coming because there are countries to the east that will not accept the solutions needed to stop us all cooking up in a stew. a fine mess we have here ollie! first it was atom bomb shelters. now we needed solar powered a/c and how do we make our own water when we have a ten thousand year drought? came we have a totally recycled system like the one in assimov's "the strike breaker? maybe. but we better hurry cause it is not coming folks. it is here. hey gore, don't feel bad. no one listens to me younsters are in for a very rough ride.
+5 # jwb110 2012-08-06 20:52
Sir Isaac Newton also developed the coin edge, like the edge on US quarters and dimes, in order to discourage counterfeiters.
+3 # Carbonman1950 2012-08-06 21:08
I find myself confused by Mr. Zweig's article. The first sentence says that there is "little evidence that severe punishments have consistently deterred people from misconduct that could make them rich." Then Mr. Zweig goes on to provide that evidence. Saying, for example, "Counterfeiting and forgery, as the historian Marvin Becker noted in 1976, "were much less prevalent in Florence during the second half of the fourteenth century than in Tuscany during the twentieth century".
Mr. Zweig then mourns the lack of punishment for financial malfeasance and instances of governments' support of those who guilty of such malfeasance.

What gives?
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-08-06 21:57
"OFF WITH THEIR HEADS" still works for me.
+4 # angelfish 2012-08-06 23:42
The self-serving Politicians who ALLOWED them to rape and pillage the Public at will, also bear responsibility and should suffer the consequences of their felonious actions as well!
+3 # Unca Mikey 2012-08-07 02:34
Prosecute them!
+8 # NAVYVET 2012-08-07 04:13
Followup: 1381 Revolt, the 10 Demands:
1-All villeins to be freed & offered land for low rent.
2-All lords’ estates to be broken up, wealth and land redistributed free to the poor, though some was to be held in common by all.
3-The property & wealth of the Church in England--includ ed 1/3 of all the arable--to be confiscated & redistributed to the commons.
4-Monks and nuns to be given sufficient sustenance & turned out of their convents to work for a living.
5-Clergy not to be harmed, but could be deposed by their congregations. Clerics richer than their parishioners need not be paid.
6-Zhould be but one bishop in England, all others deposed, wealth confiscated.(No one knows whom they had in mind.)
7-Mercantile monopolies to be broken up, debts forgiven, internal free trade without tariffs & tolls instituted throughout England.
8-Political government to be decentralized in the shires & hundreds.
9-Only basis of English law to be the Statute of Winchester of 1285. (From the standpoint of the commons, best English statute of the Middle Ages.)
10-Eleven traitors, including royal Treasurer & rich men like Lyons, to be tried for capital crimes.
Superficially the rebels lost, but in the next decades the serfs were freed, rents stayed low, labor remained militant, real wages tripled. It's called the Golden Age of Wage Labor in England.
+4 # Majikman 2012-08-07 09:46
Thanks, navyvet. Reminds me what I learned as a child...if I asked long enough, often enough and whined loud enough, I may not have gotten all that I wanted, but got more than if I had shut up and "behaved". Extrapolating on that, if I were unfortunate enough to have parents who thought backhanding a demanding child was the appropriate response, I'd have probably gone underground and mastered passive/aggress ive (OWS) or become really destructive...l ike our modern day hate groups. The direction our country is taking is that of the punitive backhanding parent and there will be trouble. (But they were such nice, well behaved little villeins.)
Thanks again.
0 # paulrevere 2012-08-07 09:48
Thanks for this NAVYVET...I did a c&P and sent to all on my list...surely part of the foundation for liberal thinking!

And come to think of it, sporting a million candle watt 'keen sense of the obvious'.
+5 # tswhiskers 2012-08-07 09:53
Thank you. I love a man with a real sense of history. One major problem with American politics today is that the public have such a short attention span and an even shorter memory. Of course the politicians are bent on dumbing down education so they have probably have cut out history courses along with civics and poli sci. If it's true that a country gets the government it deserves, we have built up a hell of a lot of karma.
+5 # NAVYVET 2012-08-07 12:33
I'm not a man! Proud to be a woman, a grandmother, and a member of the Granny Peace Brigade, as well as the Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and (secretary & director of graphics) Delaware Valley Veterans for America--our motto: "Bring 'em home NOW!"

Did you know that towns all over Europe in the 14th century had women voters (burgesses) and some had laws requiring equal pay? And that several heresies from about the 11th century onward had women preachers? The political reforms were rare, though, which may explain why the leader of the rebels of Rochester, Kent in 1381 was a woman, Joan Ferrour, from her name perhaps a blacksmith, and another--probab ly a peasant--was prominent in the rebellion in the county of Suffolk. GO, GALS! Unfortunately the technology-rich but politically benighted Renaissance (the age of Machiavelli & Henry VIII) wrecked most of the Medieval reforms.
+5 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-08-07 07:12
Bernard Ma-doff got sentenced to 150 years the problem is not too little punishment but how unevenly it is applied.

Fortunately the Jury saved John Edwards from punishment.

Martha Stewart begged people every day to invest in her company. Finally she gave up and sold her stock as did the others. That was interpreted as insider trading.

We don't need firmer justice just fair justice
+5 # Majikman 2012-08-07 10:35
Ha! Madoff was punished because he stole from the rich.
+7 # tuandon 2012-08-07 08:14
I have said it before...Just make these S.O.B.s work for $7.25/hr, no benefits and no access to their wealth, for 5-10 years...What a differen tune we will hear. The SEC, all the bankers, those parasites on Wall Street, the whole lot of them. The need to see what they have done to their fellow Americans.
0 # Andrew Chase 2012-08-08 21:07
Quoting tuandon:
I have said it before...Just make these S.O.B.s work for $7.25/hr, no benefits and no access to their wealth, for 5-10 years...What a differen tune we will hear. The SEC, all the bankers, those parasites on Wall Street, the whole lot of them. The need to see what they have done to their fellow Americans.

They know damn good and well what they've done to their fellow Americans. They just don't care.
+5 # bmiluski 2012-08-07 09:22
You know, people, the revolt began last year with the Occupy Wall St. movement. Yes, I know little was done/changed. But, it was a beginning. It was a taste. It was a warning.
0 # John Steinsvold 2012-08-07 13:46
An Alternative to capitalism (If the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative".
She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
--Georg C. Lichtenberg
+4 # Buddha 2012-08-07 14:29
The difference is back then peasants knew they were peasants. Here in the USA, everyone thinks they are just one good break away from being a 1%'er. Like sheep, they are too dumb to recognize when they are being led to slaughter.
-3 # JackB 2012-08-07 17:18
There is one major difference between the historical events & the events of today. As the articles point out the historical events involved crimes. While the actions of the financial leaders of today may be things people believe should be criminal they aren't. As much as people may detest their actions the issue is - are they breaking the law?

If they are then put them in jail. If they are not then get Barry & the boys to change the laws.
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-08-09 16:39
Washington Blog: You began your article with an error worthy of medieval peasants and nobles, who with rare exceptions could not read nor write. The correct word is hanged. "Hung" is what is done with a painting. A person who is executed by dangling from a rope is hanged.
0 # tanis 2012-08-16 12:39
I am for justice, however, let him who has not sinned against the public's money throw the first stone! A private prison with no windows and only each other's piggy banks to gamble over. How about greeder's anonymous? Its a human dilemma no matter how you view it. I just want my money back from the 2008 massacre.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.