Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Democratic Protection Racket: Hillary's money machine is protected from criminal prosecution... again

Above: Considering that she didn't support unions while she was a board member of Walmart; and considering her pro-Iraq War vote; and her support for free trade agreements that decimate American wages; and her vote to make bankruptcy more difficult for struggling Americans; and her hesitation to expand Social Security; and her dismissal of Bernie Sanders' bold progressive agenda as impractical, pie-in-the-sky dreaming; and the fact that she receives more campaign cash from Wall Street fraudsters than any other candidate, is Hillary Clinton really a candidate for the people, or a political puppet of Wall Street? My belief is that if Hillary becomes president she will try to help struggling Americans, but only to the point where it doesn't hurt the profits of her Wall Street donors. In other words, not much. Image from PoliticalCartoons.com, used here with license.

Yesterday, we learned that Goldman Sachs, one of Hillary Clinton's prime supporters, reached a settlement to "pay" $5 billion for fraudulent activities that contributed to the Great Recession. Some of the money will go to consumer relief, some to the federal government, and some to particular states. 

$5 billion sounds like a lot, but it's likely far less than the profit derived from such fraudulent activities. After all, Goldman Sachs has assets creeping towards $1 trillion. What's $5 billion? And, of course, we know from past experience that, for a variety of reasons, they're not really going to pay $5 billion (see, e.g., "In Settlement's Fine Print, Goldman May Save $1 Billion," (a figure that doesn't include possible tax deductions associated with the settlement), New York Times, April 11, 2016). Further, we know that the Obama Administration will not pursue criminal charges (it rarely does for super-wealthy violators) because Goldman Sachs is a top cash contributor to himself and his preferred successor, Hillary Clinton (see, e.g., here and here). Not only is this protectionism a blatant quid pro quo, it sets a bad precedent, as the head of the pro-consumer group Public Citizen observed:

"The Department of Justice says this settlement will hold Goldman Sachs accountable. Unfortunately, that’s not so. Without criminal prosecution there's not even the illusion of accountability. This settlement, like others involving Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street perpetrators of the wrongdoing that led to the Great Recession, does virtually nothing to advance the objectives of deterrence, punishment or compensation for victims. The real message is, whether due to size, complexity or privileged access to politicians, Goldman Sachs and Wall Street remain above the law."

For me, the worst part about all of the above, is that millions of Americans are going along with it, eagerly choosing Clinton and her Wall Street backers over Bernie Sanders - thereby assuring that financial fraud, white collar crime, and job insecurity will continue for the next 4-8 years. Like Obama, Clinton will bring into her administration Wall Street insiders, who will work hard to maintain the status quo of extreme income & wealth inequality - thereby keep themselves wealthy, but the rest of us in suffocating debt.

Of course, not everyone is going along with the fraud protection racket that's been set up by our political and business elites (campaign money in exchange for soft-on-corporate-crime policies). For example, five hundred people were arrested yesterday in Washington, D.C., for promoting true democracy. Yes, you can defraud the American people on a massive scale and avoid jail. But promote real democracy? "Oh no no no, we can't have that! You're getting pepper sprayed, tackled, handcuffed, and thrown in a cell!! Lawbreaker!!!"

So, here's the choice: Hillary and her Wall Street fraudster agenda, or Bernie and his New Deal agenda. I have absolutely no faith that the American people will choose the latter, but I pray I'm wrong.

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