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Explaining the Plunder and the Crime

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Message Danny Schechter

Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware, the state where most of our corporations are registered, says categorically the whole crisis rests on a foundation of crime.

Even Alan Greenspan admitted in his all-too-polite exchange with that government financial inquiry that resembles a Princeton seminar, "if you don't have enforcement, and a lot of that stuff was just plain fraud, you're not coming to grips with the issue."

Of course, this "maestro" didn't go into detail on "a lot of that stuff."

Billionaire investor Jim Chanos does, expressing surprise that there have been so few prosecutions and perp walks.

Mostly, what we are watching is an obtuse debate about banks that are "too big to fail," not too big to jail. Very little of the discourse speaks in terms of the victims -- the millions of families now without breadwinners or homes.

Most of the coverage looks up at CEOs, not down at the people whom the CEOs -- and their businesses -- robbed by design, as Bob Dylan once put it, "not with a gun but a fountain pen."

Systemic Failure

Sometimes, we don't see what's in front of our faces. No one who has followed the details of the catastrophe can deny that a financial failure was facilitated by the media failure to follow its trajectory and detail its criminality, causing inattention and denial within a distracted public, including its activist wing.

When most of us think of crime, we think of gangsters, not banksters, wrong-doers who can be shamed, named and if possible prosecuted. Conditioned by years of movie-going and TV watching, we look for bad guys, individuals, not institutions with well-elaborated schemes designed to transfer your wealth to their vaults.

In that respect, Bernie Madoff was the perfect villain, a poster child for financiers gone wild. Who doesn't want to kick a "Ponzi King" when he's down? Alas, Madoff's $65 billion dollar fraud was child's play when compared to what the bigger firms pulled off.

There is another frame, which has yet to be adopted by the Left or the mainstream media. It was articulated simply by Graydon Carter , the editor of Vanity Fair, a publication more at home with Groucho Marx that Karl.

Carter wrote of the meltdown: "[This] may well turn out to be greatest non-violent crime against humanity in history " never before have so few done so much to so many."

This is the way I came to see the problem as I followed the money and examined how it was made. We are talking about what's known as a criminal enterprise, a cabal, not simply a few high profile marauders.

It is the kind of crime that needs to be prosecuted under the RICO laws that not only recognize but go after real world, not imaginary, criminal conspiracies.

I document three interconnected rings in a circus spawned by what's called our FIRE economy. F for Finance, I for Insurance and RE for Real Estate for the uninitiated.

First, there was the housing bubble built around what the FBI called an "epidemic of mortgage fraud."

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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 Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
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