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Jan 18 2013

More on the unequal justice system

I have been highlighting the unequal treatment meted out by the Obama administration’s justice department, where extremely harsh treatment is given to low-level criminals and whistleblowers and hackers while those who commit massive damage to the financial system that cause immense hardship t many, and even acknowledge major wrongdoing, are given slaps on the wrist. It is telling that as yet, not a single high-level official in the financial sector has gone to jail, or even faced the threat of jail, for their actions.

The Colbert Report took a look at this question in two-segments, the first one dealing with the recent case of the mega-bank HSBC where the government essentially said that they were giving immunity to the people in the bank because to charge high officials with a crime and put them in jail would dangerously destabilize the financial system because the bank was too large. This is an extraordinary thing to say. We have now gone from an unofficial two-tier legal system to one that openly admits that it treats rich people and institutions far more leniently that the rest of us. The right thing to do with a bank that is ‘too large’ is not to officially grant them immunity (which will just encourage further wrongdoing) but to make them smaller.

In the second part, Stephen Colbert interviews Matt Taibbi.

(This clip was aired on January 16, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Pierce R. Butler

    Maybe it’s just my (Mac, Firefox) system, but I don’t see any videos in this post… :-(

  2. 2
    Mano Singham

    Something weird has been happening recently. When I first embed the videos from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report they show up fine. Then when I come back a little later, they have the empty box. Then I have to reload the code again. I have no idea what is going on unless Comedy Central is changing the embedding code after I have used it.

  3. 3
    Pierce R. Butler

    Fwliw, now the videos are back, looking as innocent as if they’d never snuck away.

    Whatever you did seems to have appeased the html gods: high-bandwidth hallelujahs all around!

  4. 4
    olivercrangle

    The banks should’ve been broken up four years ago.

    I forget who was saying that, but in general my recollection is that us liberal Democrats were “too big to fail!” and it was some evil Republicans and Terrorist Tea Partiers that wanted to break them up.

    My data point on this was the blog fights and comments that were held at Mother Jones where in general, the commenters were almost but not quite as bad as PZ’s commenters, quick to bully and name call and out the trolls and out the hidden enemies of disagreement.

    But if you ask me, any engineer in a situation of too big to fail would have immediately worked to figure out how to make these banks smaller and then intentionally broken them up.

    And what the US should do is have say, an annual review of institutions including banks, including airlines, including manufacturers (looking at you Boeing) and be able to place various companies on the too big to fail list. To big to fail means that regulators and economists realize that the government would be sure to step in to prevent a company of that magnitude from failing.

    Once placed on that list, a company can appeal, but if the appeal is lost, the company has one year to break itself up, selling off parts of itself however it wants to, until it gets to a point where it comes off the list.

    Legal? Seems to be if you think that companies are not people.

    At any rate, that Democrats 4 years ago, that Obama still today, cannot break up too big to fail organizations, was one step for me in distancing myself from always loyal democrat.

  5. 5
    Mano Singham

    Yes, as I wrote in 2008, the financial crisis was a golden opportunity to break up the banks because they desperately needed government assistance and that could have been the price exacted from them for giving it. But the Democrats, like the Republicans, are in the service of the same financial oligarchy.

  6. 6
    GregB

    It’s not just the high-profile cases that should concern people, when it comes to the Dept. of Justice (and law enforcement generally):

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/16/the-criminal-charges-against-aaron-swartz-part-2-prosecutorial-discretion/

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