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October 9, 2011

Taibbi on why Wall Street isn't in jail: "financial crimes don't feel real"

Atlantic Yards Report

Matt Taibbi, he of the famous "Goldman Sachs as vampire squid" formulation, was on the Leonard Lopate Show Monday.

And that pointed me to his 2/16/11 Rolling Stone article headlined Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? Financial crooks brought down the world's economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.

Here's the close:

The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don't feel real; you don't see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They're crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let's steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy. They're attacking the very definition of property — which, after all, depends in part on a legal system that defends everyone's claims of ownership equally. When that definition becomes tenuous or conditional — when the state simply gives up on the notion of justice — this whole American Dream thing recedes even further from reality.

That's not exactly the Atlantic Yards story, but it's also not out of the ballpark. For example, what should we make of the lies presented to potential immigrant investors?

...

Remember how Forest City Ratner, having pledged $100 million cash in 2005 for the rights to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, in 2009 convinced the agency (via its political patrons) to restructure the deal, putting down $20 million for the initial parcel needed for the arena block and agreeing to pay the rest over 22 years at a gentle interest rate?

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Posted by steve at October 9, 2011 11:02 PM