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Forget the war on drugs. Let’s have a war on corporate greed.

While it’s against my peace-loving nature, I honestly believe the time has come to go to war.  Predatory lenders and other white-collar criminals are far more menacing—and costly—than the teenager on the corner selling marijuana.

Yet the so-called “public defenders” spend next to no time chasing down the top execs at Fannie Mae or AIG. The government bailouts are costing taxpayers billions of dollars, while the guilty parties sneak off with hefty paychecks and bonuses. Companies like the Lehman brothers and Merrill Lynch aren’t so lucky. They took bad advice, disguised it as good investments, and hoped for a greater return due to their risk. The companies don’t get to ride the government’s coat tails because their effects weren’t calculated to be as large as Fannie or Freddie. Oh well, at least the CEO of Merrill Lynch stands to make about $252 million from the Bank of America buy-out. That makes me feel better.

I understand the AIG bailout is perhaps the lesser of two evils, considering the effect of huge corporations going under on our already fragile economy, but that’s not good enough. The stock market is holding, while our national debt climbs the charts at an alarming rate. Somewhere, our capitalism credo has run amuck, and predatory lenders are looking out for no one but themselves as they hand out mortgages to the masses and set off a chain-reaction of problems.

Sure, in an ideal world, the public would be highly educated, fiscally responsible, and wouldn’t even apply for a loan they didn’t qualify for. But back in reality, people want nicer homes than they can afford. It’s the professional responsibility of lenders and credit agencies to tell people their limits. That’s why you have to get “approved” for a loan. The idea isn’t to pick the weakest candidate and exploit them. This isn’t the African Sahara.

These checks were in place to determine suitability for large financial responsibility, but now they are being used to take advantage of people. This is the crime of the century. It’s affecting the entire country, and except for saying “Shame on you,” playing the blame game, and writing a check with our money, the government isn’t doing much about it.

So what do I want? A full-scale attack.

We must go after the predatory lenders with vigor. We have to make an example out of them. Right now it’s the perfect crime. We’re telling business men and women, go ahead, screw over the public, write yourself a nice, fat check, and we’ll bail you out. Literally. I want investigators on the case. I want undercover raids. I want to turn the small-time peddler of bad loans into a snitch to reel in the big fish. I want the corporate version of the SWAT team assembled.

This isn’t going to be cheap. But I’d give a rough estimate that falls somewhere below $85 billion.

3 thoughts on “Forget the war on drugs. Let’s have a war on corporate greed.”

  1. "This isn't the African Sahara."

    That was possibly my favorite line. Or maybe the last paragraph, including the phrase about the corporate version of the SWAT team. hahaha

    I must say that I fully agree with everything you are saying! I miss your quirky and point-blank way with words.

  2. Banks got greedy, spurred on by too many years of easy credit. The real crime is that the government has decided to perpetuate the moral hazard by not letting the banks fail. Sure it might assure the markets in the near-term, but now the government has set another precedent that begs companies to take on excess risk because they know their downside is covered.

    I wonder though, what you mean by a war on corporate greed. There's nothing inherently illegal about giving loans to the "sub-prime" (though it is inherently foolish). Again you can thank too-low interest rates and our friends Fannie and Freddie for this.

    Last, fortunately that $85 billion isn't necessarily money lost, the government took an 80% stake in AIG for the money. It's likely that the government will reap a large reward for its money (like it did when it bailed out Chrysler in the 80s) as most of AIGs lines of business are still quite solid. Of course, I still don't like it.

  3. Make sure your hanging party includes Barney Frank and others in Congress who happily perpetuated the state of affairs you condemn. There's plenty of blame to go around. Who do you think made all that money so available and cheap for those unscrupulous lenders to exploit?

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