Back in the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney made a bit of a splash when he said, "Corporations are people, my friend."
He of course was jeered as we think of corporations as entities, with people working under that business umbrella. But what if Romney was right? What if corporations are people?
If they break the law, shouldn't they go to jail?
If you're a people/person you would. So why not corporations? The Hill:
Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase tentatively reached a deal with the Justice Department to pay $13 billion to settle charges it misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about mortgage quality leading up to the financial crisis. And Bloomberg reported that the Federal Housing Finance Agency is eyeing at least a $6 billion penalty for Bank of America for similar claims.
Okay, so the JPMorgan Chase corporation admitted wrongdoing -- breaking the law -- and they are going to pay a fine. But the crime was committed by people, not a building, and with it carries a jail sentence. So who's going to serve? Jamie Dimon? He's the CEO. He knew what was going on.
Nope. No jail time for Jamie. Just a fine. And we, the public are paying it for him.
Reform advocates argue that if the government truly wants to discourage bad behavior in the financial sector, it is not enough to rack up billion-dollar fines against big banks. The government needs to go after individual executives and hold them personally responsible.
Consider this, if the banks are forced to accept responsibility, than instead of us paying the fines with increased fees, their law-breaking executives will be doing time. The guilty will be penalized, not us. No more passing the buck, so to speak.
Fortunately, there is a voice who is speaking up for us. And her voice is that of the MGM lion that roars. It's Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to financial regulators Wednesday where she not too subtly chided them for what she saw as lacking enforcement.
She noted in her letter that the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) had managed to secure over 100 criminal convictions between 2009 and 2012 and place 51 defendants in prison.
She also noted the agency did it with a fraction of the enforcement staff and budget the other regulators enjoyed. Warren clearly wanted to know why more convictions had not been pursued and achieved (by the DOJ), and asked for enforcement statistics from the agencies.
So SIGTARP could do what the DOJ couldn't. And this is very important to deter further frauds and money manipulations. We can't stand by and keep bailing out the banks who knowingly gamble with our money, take exorbitant salaries and bonuses (win or lose) and then stick us with the bill, either in a federal bailout or raised banking fees.
If they can't run themselves, let them fail. And jail the gamblers who broke the law. Other banks and financial institutions will rise up. Money isn't going away. All that will disappear will be the frauds and phonies who have stiffed us over the years. We don't need a BofA nor a JPMorgan/Chase. We can get by with local banks that can get the same fed rate as the big ones.
Doing so might also make getting a loan a lot easier when Mr. Donnelly or Mrs. Heath at the local bank, who knows you by name, is making the decision on whether or not you meet federal requirements for a loan. And those managers will appreciate your patronage -- maybe even do more business with you. That means profits and they'll go more locally or regionally.
Federal guidelines are needed and Senator Warren and her allies are working on that with the new Glass-Steagall bill.
Remember, local banks? We used to have them. And local banks mean local money. Let's break up the huge corporations that Romney claimed are really people. Let's send those people where they belong -- packing. And you don't need to take too many things, Mr./Mrs. Banker. They give you uniforms and three meals a day where you belong.