Welcome to the World of CriminogenicsApril 18, 2011
I’ve pretty much abandoned blogging because the whole undertaking seems like a drip/blip in the endless digital deluge of opinionating/bloviating/expatiating that flows in/across/through the web. Suddenly, it’s as if everybody has his/her own printing press, which can be a good thing. (A lot of people have opinions/ideas worth printing; on the other hand, a lot don’t.) But the sheer volume of material being spewed out turns the notion of mass communication on its head. It used to be we had a relatively small number of producers and a mass number of consumers; now we have a mass number of producers and (in the case of the vast majority of blogs) a small number of consumers. That’s a long way of getting round to why I’m taking up this blog again, which is because this Thursday I read a most-astounding quote in the New York Times that I feel compelled to share, even if it’s only with myself. It was in an investigative, long-form article, the kind that the Times is one of the few vehicles of print communication still around with the resources/resolve to do. The headline was “After Reckless Banking, A Dearth of Prosecutions and Not Much Guilt” (a tepid headline, in true Times style.) The quote was from William K. Black, a law professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City. He served as federal director of litigation during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and had this to say about the government response to the far-larger/far-graver real estate-speculating/ banking/Wall Street knavery that, since the bubble burst in 2008, has plunged the world economy into the worst slump since the 1930s: “…their policies have created an exceptional criminogenic environment. There were no criminal referrals from the regulators. No fraud working groups. No national task force. There has been no effective punishment of the elites here.” CRIMINOGENIC ENVIRONMENT: What a wonderful neologism! What an indictment of the whole vile, self-serving, interlocking directorate of political/financial elites that has harnessed the apparatus of government to its own self-interest! Professor Black’s assessment was reinforced by a piece on the front page of the Times’s Sunday Business Section, in which Elizabeth Magner, a bankruptcy court judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, placed her finger on the cause of the current mortgage debacle: “The deference afforded the lending community has resulted in an abuse of trust.” The Judge went on: “One too may times, this court has been witness to the shoddy practices and sloppy accountings of the mortgage service industry. With each revelation, one hopes the bottom of the barrel has been reached and the industry will self correct. Sadly, this does not appear to be reality.” Yet, instead of cracking down on this countrywide (sic) efflorescence of our blooming criminogenic environment (the one environment the Republican/Tea Party seems intent on protecting) Paul Ryan—like Alan Greenspan before him—continues to reject the idea of regulation and spout the clichés of Ayn Rand, a fourth-rate novelist (I’m being generous), and push the notion that, if government only got out of the way, all would be right with the economy. Well, guess what? Government did get out of the way, and we got a real estate bubble, the worst Wall Street crisis since ’29, the Great Recession and the Troubled Asset Rescue Program (TARP—also known as STAGSB, Save the Asses of Greedy, Stupid Bankers—under which the people got the shaft and the bankers got the gold). Welcome to the wild world of criminogenic economics and corporate fiefdom/thiefdom. And the best/worst is yet to come. If John Boehner—the Speaker makes no secret of his ties to Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and R.J.Reynolds—and his fellow subalterns of the plutocracy wrest full control of the federal government, the fun has just begun.