Taking Personal Responsibility

A psychopath lures a ten year old child into an alley where he sadistically kicks her to death. Two days later, the police come to his home and arrests his shoes.

Do not be surprised.

This is how criminal law operates.

We all resent the banks and other financial institutions, who more than anyone were responsible for the recent (and possibly current) recession. Government at all levels are working hard to bring action against the miscreants. Even now New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is investigating the possibility of criminal action against Goldman Sachs, Citibank and others.

Even if Mr. Vance should succeed in his efforts, just who does he plan to arrest? Goldman died in 1904; Sachs in 1935. It is too late to get them. Does Mr. Vance plan to march down to Goldman Sachs’ corporate offices at 30 Hudson Street and arrest the building?

It is the psychopath’s shoes all over again.

Furthermore, should Mr. Vance succeed to bring the bank to court; win his case; and collect a gazillion dollar fine; just who is going to pay the money — certainly not Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO.  He and his fellow partners are safe and secure in the knowledge that their salaries and bonuses will continue regardless of their negligence.  

No. The court will collect from the corporate entity; i.e., the shareholders, which by the way are no longer the Goldman Sachs partners who now own less then 20% of their company’s shares. The court will send the bailiff to some poor jerk in Elmira New York, whose only crime was to buy Goldman Sachs shares as part of his children’s college fund.  The bailiff will hand him a bill for his part of the gazillion dollar fine in the form of the inevitable drop in share value.

In the mean time, Mr. Blankfein is busy lobbying Congress to ensure that government does not interfere with his g-d given right to fleece the public.

We cannot change the past, but that is no excuse to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Senior bank executives together with the other masters-of-universe must have the authority to manage their companies. However, we must ensure that responsibility and accountability are coupled with that authority.

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