Thursday, May 14, 2009
Beguiled, Gulled, Choused
African Americans, although a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of the country’s 2 million prisoners. Also, a tenth of all black men between 20 and 35 years of age are in jail or prison. It is no surprise then, that the public face of crime and one that is placarded by "Get Tough on Crime" proponents is colored black or brown.
However, what is conspicuously missing in public policy and public perception is the dramatic increase, influence, and prevalence of white-collar or institutional crimes. Often shielded from public view and detection by an intricate web of inter-related associations, these gross offenses devastate the lives not of one or two, but entire communities, regions, industries, and segments of the population.
Who speaks for the victims?
U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D) Ohio, in yesterday's Congressional hearing peels back layers of the inter-connections between the players and bed-fellows in the sub-prime mortgage mess which wreaked havoc on local communities.
As Representative Kaptur questions AIG Chair and CEO Edward Libby, her premise seems to be that the largest sub-prime lenders such a Goldman Sachs, Wachovia, HSBC, and others made risky predatory loans because AIG as insurer, provided them with a safety net - an arrangement which essentially assumed the risk for lenders with the tax payers ending up paying for the losses. Rep. Kaptur seems to portray this as an elaborate scheme where the local communities and homeowners lose and get lost in the shuffle, while the financial institutions pocket the funds and return to business as usual as if nothing happened.
The stability of of society is dependent on citizens being able to trust financial institutions and their leaders. When the public is hoodwinked or bamboozled, this trust is undermined.
Whenever a crime has been committed reconciliation between the offender and victim should take place. Reconciliation cannot take place without repentance, restitution, and restoration in order that the victims be made whole.
Marcy Kaptur's interview is at 1:44.04 to 1:50.34
Also, See Glass City Jungle the inspiration for this blog post and Politico for related story