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Is It Time For A Jailout On Wall Street?

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The Right Mobilizes Against The Stimulus While We Sign Petitions

By Danny Schechter

Author of PLUNDER

Judging by my in-box, there seem to be no shortage of organizations and individuals obsessed with an image: Dick Cheney and George Bush in prison, and Karl Rove in the next cell.  Never mind that Congress doesn’t have the guts or the President the gumption to go after those responsible for the gutting of the Constitution. Nevertheless, there are many campaigns and calls to hold the last Administration accountable for its crimes.

At the same time, as we watch an economy in free fall, there seems to a lot less agitation for a serious investigation of those responsible for this collapse. Evan as you overhear conversations in every bar and union hall that begins with “those bastards should be in jail,” few progressives are leading the charge to demand a Jail-Out alongside those stimulus bailouts. It’s as if economic crimes provoke a ho-hum reaction among activists.

Oddly, some corporate media are more sensitive to the seething mass public outrage. TIME did a spread on the 25 individuals responsible for the crisis including politicians and CEO’s. They ran a photo spread with their images against the background of police line-up. CNN has profiled corporate criminals. CNBC is running a series on “American Greed”---mostly of small time con men.

Of course the Madoff case stays in the news even as he stays in his fancy apartment. The investigators have now determined that he never made any trades with the money investors trusted him with.

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Tom Lindmark seemed shocked to hear this on the Seeking Alpha financial blog:

“…it now turns out that Mr. Madoff may not have traded any securities for the past thirteen years. You heard that right. The guy just ran his Ponzi scheme. No extra complications. All of which begs the question of what were his employees doing? Did they just show up, surf the Internet and text friends for all those years?

If it’s this easy to get away with things, evade arrest and live the good life, why are all of us walking on the right side of the line? Who are the fools?”

There is a deeper problem, of course. How did he get away with it? Lawyer John Coffee of the Columbia Law School addressed that question in an interview:

“I think our regulatory system failed and failed badly over basically the last six or seven years in failing to spot a Mr. Madeoff.  Although in fairness Mr. Madeoff has been a crook for almost 20 or 25 years and we can't just pick on the last couple of years there.  But I think that regulatory system allowed these offerings when there was evidence that lending standards were being relaxed at the mortgage loan originator stage, when the underwriting standards were being relaxed and in which credit rating agencies were becoming so conflicted that the really sophisticated person no longer believe their ratings.”

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Three new crime stores came to light this past week.

•There’s Texan Alan Stanford, another billion-dollar fraudster, who we were  told was arrested, but wasn’t.

•Then there’s evidence that as many as 52,000 Americans dodged taxes with secret accounts in the Swiss bank UBS, which was also deeply invested in worthless subprime securities.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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