Just recently, we learned from Kenneth Feinberg, the government’s special investigator of banker pay, that top executives of 17 financial giants shoveled $1.6 billion in excess compensation to themselves in 2008 — at the very moment their failing banks began to draw billions of bailout dollars from us taxpayers. Among the pranksters pocketing eyepopping amounts were the high-rolling bank bosses at American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, PNC and Wells Fargo.
So, what’s the punishment these self-serving money manipulators can expect from Washington’s arbiter of excessive executive pay? None. In a stunning show of soft-on-crime leniency, Feinberg declared that he will not even attempt to recoup any of the $1.6 billion the money-grubbers grubbed from us. Declaring that he thought shaming these bad boys was enough, Feinberg asked plaintively, “At what point are you piling on and going beyond what’s warranted?” Shaming them? They’re Wall Street executives — they were born without the shame gene! Piling on? They imploded their banks, crashed our economy, got Washington politicos of both parties to save their jobs, paid themselves a looter’s level of taxpayer booty, and now are getting a free pass to continue their flimflammery. Feinberg even refuses to release their names.
Some shame! If you rob a bank, the law hunts you down and throws your scrawny butt in jail to teach you and other robbers a lesson. But the lesson that Feinberg has given to America is that if you run a bank and rob the people, the law kisses your ample butt, giving you and others permission to find evermore-creative ways to keep stealing from us.
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