Write a cookbook, go to jail?
David Dayen points out the absurdity and hypocrisy behind the Obama/Holder Justice Department's decision to indict two stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" on charges of mortgage fraud while Wall Street's crooked bankers still go unpunished.
Dayen points out that Wall Street bankers illegally foreclosed on 244,000 customers, for a total he estimates at $48 billion, and provides more detail on the scope of bankers' foreclosures crimes.
But that's barely scratching the surface. Bankers also defrauded mortgage investors, manipulated energy prices, and fraudulently tampered with lending rates, at a total cost that may well run into the trillions.
Does the Obama/Holder DoJ indictment count reflect the relative magnitude of criminality committed by the respective parties? Let's look at the record.
Indictments for reality TV stars who accused of defrauding banks in order to obtain approximately $2.4 million in loans:
Indictments of bankers who falsified millions of loan documents, defrauded homeowners and investors, evaded local property sales taxes, and committed multiple other frauds large and small:
In 2010 I said that, the way things were going on Wall Street, Obama and Holder were going to have to indict Martha Stewart again. That just shows how culturally clueless I am. Sure, they still need scapegoats they can indict instead of Wall Street executives. But America doesn't want to see television's too-good-to-be-true housewife take the fall anymore -- not when it can get a caricaturishly bad one instead. Enter Teresa and Joe Guidice, our newest celebrity defendants.
From Martha Stewart to Real Housewives: Now that's change you can believe in. And guess what? Martha and Teresa have both written cookbooks.
Meanwhile, the "Real House Thieves of New Jersey," and of the nation -- America's big banks -- continue to enjoy the fruits of government assistance. That aid's moved from direct bailouts to indirect subsidies like the implicit market advantage that comes with being "too big to fail"; immunity from prosecution; low tax rates as corporations and as individuals; and a string of cushy settlement deals.
Those deals allow crooked bankers to "pay" for their actions with other people's money -- namely the shareholders. Break the law, and pay for your crime with other people's money if you get caught? With deals like that, why would criminals ever stop breaking the law?
Answer: They don't.
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