Criminal justice, as it pertains to the Goldmans and Morgan Stanleys of the world, is not adversarial combat, with cops and crooks duking it out in interrogation rooms and courthouses. Instead, it's a cocktail party between friends and colleagues who from month to month and year to year are constantly switching sides and trading hats.
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game.
In the '50s and '60s, journalism wasn't a profession. It wasn't something you went to college for - it was really more of a trade. You had a lot of guys who came up working in newspapers at the copy desk, or delivery boys, and then they would somehow become reporters afterward and learn on the job.
2008 was to the American economy what 9/11 was to national security. Yet while 9/11 prompted the U.S. government to tear up half the Constitution in the name of public safety, after 2008, authorities went in the other direction.
The threat posed by Bank of America isn't just financial - it's a full-blown assault on the American dream. Where's the incentive to play fair and do well, when what we see rewarded at the highest levels of society is failure, stupidity, incompetence and meanness? If this is what winning in our system looks like, who doesn't want to be a loser?
In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you've always got a puncher's chance.
The moral angle to the foreclosure crisis - and, of course, in capitalism we're not supposed to be concerned with the moral stuff, but let's mention it anyway - shows a culture that is slowly giving in to a futuristic nightmare ideology of computerized greed and unchecked financial violence.
Wall Street has turned the economy into a giant asset-stripping scheme, one whose purpose is to suck the last bits of meat from the carcass of the middle class.
In reality, everybody in Congress is a stand-in for some kind of lobbyist. In many cases it's difficult to tell whether it's the companies that are lobbying the legislators or whether it's the other way around.
'Nobody goes to jail.' This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth - and nobody went to jail.
The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn't require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.
What we Americans go through to pick a president is not only crazy and unnecessary but genuinely abusive. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in a craven, cynical effort to stir up hatred and anger on both sides.
What the mortgage bubble was all about was big banks like Goldman Sachs taking big bundles of subprime mortgages that were lent out largely to low-income, highly risky borrowers, and applying this kind of magic-pixie-dust math to these bundles of securities and slapping AAA ratings on them.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.
Democracy doesn't require a whole lot of work of its citizens, but it requires some: It requires taking a good look outside once in a while, and considering the bad news and what it might mean, and making the occasional tough choice, and soberly taking stock of what your real interests are.
Obviously, people who commit crimes should be punished. Even people who steal socks and 'Snow White' videos should probably do time if they have priors, especially serious priors. But the punishment has to fit the crime, and the standard has to be the same for everyone.
At least Bank of America got its name right. The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we'll all be paying for until the end of time.
I mean, people who say that the Tea Party isn't a grassroots movement, I think, are incorrect. I think in some respects, it is a grassroots movement.
This idea that you can't be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don't stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It's possible to do this job with honor and dignity.
You know what an effective deterrent to crime is? Jail! And do you know what kind of criminal penalty actually makes people think twice about committing crimes the next time? The kind that actually comes out of some individual's pocket, not fines that come out of the corporate kitty.