Friday, September 30, 2011

Bloomberg defends the banks

New York mayor and former Republican Michael Bloomberg has said some surprisingly sane and occasionally even progressive things over the last couple years. But the Occupy Wall Street protests have brought out his old self. I suppose it's not surprising since he did make most of his fortune from investing. Appearing on a local radio show, he had this to say about the protests:
The protesters are protesting against people who make $40-50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet. That’s the bottom line. Those are the people that work on Wall Street or on the finance sector.

This is a complete mischaracterization of the protests. The protests are not against mid-level employees. They are against bank presidents and top level executives, the ones who make policies for the banks. They are against the biggest people at the investment houses, the ones who make millions from inventing "financial products," irresponsibly throwing millions and billions of our dollars around, and who still get million dollar bonuses when everything goes south. When people say "banker," they do not mean the cashier at their local branch.
We need the banks, if the banks don’t go out and make loans we will not come out of our economy problems, we will not have jobs.

We need banks. I can agree with that, but I don't think many, if any, of the protesters are saying let's abolish all banks.
I think we spend much too much time worrying about how we got into problems as to how we go forward.

Why is it that only white collar and well connected criminals get this blanket pardon when they destroy other people's lives? You never hear other crimes treated that way. "I think we spend much too much time worrying about who murdered whom. The important thing is talk about how to prevent murder as we go forward." I have a better idea. Let's investigate. If crimes were committed, we put the criminals on trial and send them to jail. We test out that old deterrent theory of harsh punishment. Saying no one will ever be prosecuted sure hasn't helped prevent crime.
Also we always tend to blame the wrong people. We blame the banks. They were part of it, but so were Freddie Mac and Frannie Mae and Congress.

Yes, Congress does deserve a lot of the blame for the collapse. But their responsibility lies in deregulating the financial sector and not performing any over site on Wall Street.

There might be some legitimate reasons for criticizing the Wall Street protesters, but their choice of target is not one of them.

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