This recent post in The Atlantic reminds us of something we all know: Wall Street is as corrupt as the movies portray it to be.
Writer Bouree Lam discusses a recent report out of Notre Dame that examines whether or not increased regulations have had any effect on Wall Street behavior. The answer is a clear and unequivocal “No.” As Lam quoted the co-author of the report:
“To me, as a researcher in this area, it says what we’re doing isn’t working to the extent that we wished it was,” says Tenbrunsel. “People seem more aware of the regulation, but that hasn’t necessarily impacted behavior. Then being aware of regulation isn’t enough.”
What is enough to stop the short-sighted behavior that potentially ruins that lives of hundreds of thousands? Fines? Meh. Bankers themselves have noted that paying fines are simply the cost of doing (illegal) business – they are a slap on the wrist at best. Jail time? That might get some attention. In fact China is providing a model for other nations to follow with regard to corporate corruption: Breaking the law is a criminal offense, paying your debt to society for that offense is perfectly justifiable.
Here are a couple of recent stories demonstrating the idea.
Whilst still a communist nation, China’s President Xi Jinping is committed to weeding out corrupt officials according to this Business Insider write up and in keeping with that idea he actually has current officials visiting persecuted officials in their prisons as a deterrent to illegal business activity.
In another example, an AP story covers the sentence handed down to a company found dumping chemical waste into waterways (China is in the midst of a 180 turnaround with regards to its environmental stance – btw): the sentence included a fine as well as jail time for 18 employees involved.
China is not messing around.
As we watch candidates position themselves for nominations to become our nation’s leader, we should keep an eye out for their stance on Wall Street corruption. Is there anyone out there who is un-bought and willing to stand up to the oligarchy, including support for jail time to those who break financial laws and regulations that affect thousands of lives of ordinary citizens? Our democracy depends on such a person.