To answer that initial question by Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi responded with a rhetorical question:
"How much drug enforcement would there be in this country if every top-ranking narc had a $2 million-a-year job waiting for them with the local drug dealer after they left government service?" (After their careers on "the Hill," lot of former members of Congress go to work as lobbyists for the financial industry, receiving about that same amount of money.)
Bill Maher: So tell us in simple terms why the banksters belong in jail?
Matt's reply, nearly verbatim:
All the banks were broadly involved in a criminal fraud scheme that involved the selling of mis-marked mortgage-backed securities. These securities were composed of toxic, crappy sub-prime mortgages that they were waving a bunch of phony-baloney ratings over (like using some kind of "magic wand') and then selling them off to pension funds, insurance companies, and banks around the world. They were "wanded' (fraudulently labeled) as AAA-rated securities, which were by no means really anything close to AAA quality-- far from it. It was like selling oregano, claiming it was high-quality marijuana, and doing it on a massive, massive scale, to thousands of defrauded buyers.
When it comes to financial fraud, the banksters in the financial services industry far outdid Bernie Madoff, who was just doing a simple, age-old Ponzi scheme. In contrast to that, the Wall Street banksters were doing something on a vastly larger scale, cheating vastly larger numbers of people than Bernie ever cheated. Theirs was a much, much bigger operation. As a result, millions of Americans went into foreclosure and a great many lost their homes, just as millions more probably will. Millions more lost their jobs, in part because of the falling real estate values and the greatly reduced spending of those whose home values went way south, with many of them eventually losing their homes or fearing they might. Meanwhile, the banksters who sold these folks the predatory loans are still living like Pablo Escobar, another very successful criminal. But unlike Escobar, virtually none of the banksters have gone to jail, nor will they. Plus, the likelihood is strong that that all of them will continue to keep the trillions they stole from us. Angelo Mozillo from Countrywide Financial was the only bankster to come close to getting time behind bars and he got off with a $45 million fine and a promise to never again serve as the director of a large institution. So yes crime pays in the United States, at least for banksters and those in government who pave their way.
Who are some of the other Mubarak-level bankster/looters in this country?
Dick Fuld from Lehman Brothers got away with $500 million of essentially stolen money. He cashed out before his company went down. He undoubtedly knew what was going to happen and pulled his cash out of his company while telling his investors that everything was fine.