In a March referendum, the mild-mannered, pacifist-minded Swiss people rose up and hammered their bank executives who’ve been grabbing rip-off pay packages. Two-thirds of voters emphatically shouted “yes” to a maverick proposal requiring that shareholders be given the binding say on executive pay. Violators of the new rules would sacrifice up to six years of salary and face three years in jail. That’s hardly namby-pamby.
Indeed, it’s America’s lawmakers and regulators who’ve been squishy-soft on banksterism. None of the Wall Street titans who enriched themselves with rip-off pay packages while running financial scams that wrecked our economy have even been pursued by the law, much less put in jail. It’s no surprise, then, that they’ve gone right back to scamming and grabbing rip-off pay. Hardly a week goes by without another revelation of big-bank fraud, yet the banks just pay an inconsequential fine and the culprits skate free.
Forget too-big-to-fail, banks have become “too big to jail.” Our nation’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, recently conceded that finagling financial giants are being given a pass: “It does become difficult for us to prosecute them,” he testified, “when we are hit with indications that… if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy.”
Meanwhile, just four giants – Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo – put nearly $20 million into last year’s elections, mostly to back Republicans promising to weaken the few feeble restraints we now have on banker thievery. Our lawmakers and regulators want to coddle the big bankers – with such keystone kops overseeing them, why would any Wall Streeter even think of going straight?