Approximately a year ago, a jury fined a college student, Joel Tenenbaum, $675,000 for sharing some 30 songs over a popular file sharing network.1 He could have been fined up to $5.4 million, or $150,000 per infringement. Just weeks before, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was fined $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song, for sharing just 24 songs. It is too bad the SEC doesn't have the ruthless and blood thirsty lawyers who work for the RIAA. Because if it did, they would definitely have obtained a settlement much more worthy of the word "punishment".
Just days ago, Goldmans Sachs agreed to settle their securities fraud case against the SEC for $550 million, less than 50 cents on the dollar of the overall infringement.2 Being that Goldman made $12.1 billion in 2009, I'd hardly call that a punishment. It's more like pocket change. Goldman's payout amounts to only 3.4% of their bonus pool. Executives will pay more to the IRS in taxes than defrauded investors will receive in compensation.
Meanwhile, AIG, the company who was bailed out to the tune of $180 billion, had been shelling out some of that money to pay off their allegations of fraud. As it turns out, while hard-working Americans were losing their jobs, houses, and retirement, while at the same time being essentially robbed by the government to bail out AIG, the good-boy network had been filing incorrect accounting records, manipulating stock prices, and participating in anti-competitive practices since as far back as 1999.3 At the end of the day, AIG had to pay back a mere 1/2% of their take in a government issued bailout for some 6 years of illegal behavior.
In spite of the flood of lies coming from the main-stream media about the improving economy, the feds closed another 6 banks, increasing the number for the year to 96, or roughly 13 per month. So far, 2010 closures are 71% more than the 57 that had been closed this same time last year.4
The government seems to be doing a little something to pacify the people, but does anyone think that the actions of the government will make things better for the people? Get ready for the banks to start behaving much like the airlines are now. They're going to have fees for everything from writing checks to not using your debit card enough, or for not keeping your balance high enough. Some suggest they'll even charge you a fee for simply getting at your money.5 It might be time to start dusting off the mason jars.
Though the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals,6 companies do not seem to receive the same treatment under the law when it comes to their crimes. Was Tenenbaum allowed to "pay off" his misdeeds with just a fraction of a percent of the assessment of his crime? Even though a judge cut his fine to 10% of the original award7, if he were treated the same as corporations, they should have allowed him to settle for just $2,700. But in a fascist society, the only true citizens are the constituents of the lawmakers, which are corporations, while the people are just pawns to play in the continuing game of greed, fraud, and corruption.
- Torrent Freak - Student Hit With $675,000 Fine in RIAA File-Sharing Case
- Huffington Post - Goldman Sachs SEC SETTLEMENT Reached -- And Stock SOARS
- Fortune - AIG settles longstanding fraud cases for $1 billion
- USA Today - Regulators shut 6 more banks, making 96 failures for the year
- USA Today - Banks eye higher fees to boost declining revenue
- AllLaw.com - Supreme Court Ruled Corporations Have Same 1st Amendment Rights as Individuals in Landmark Campaign Finance Case
- The Guardian - Filesharer Joel Tenenbaum has fine reduced by 90%