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


MilesPerHour said...

It has almost become the norm to expect to be deceived or cheated by businesses, in this case, banks. It was bad enough we had so much fine print to get through but now some institutions and the people behind them are feeling that they are above getting caught or since "everyone" is doing it that it is okay.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good post Revvy Rev,

Too often African Americans are portrayed as criminals. This does not mean there aren't African American individuals who commit crimes; there are.

Very little thought is given to white collar crime, the perpetrators or the victims. We are inundated daily with news accounts of African Americans involved in some type of violent crime and this solidifies the belief that we are indeed criminals.

While America reads and watches these portrayals, individuals at the highest levels of corporate, financial, political and legislative institutions conduct unethical and immoral acts that erode public trust and confidence. But they are unnoticed.

I do not believe one crime trumps another in precedence; a crime is violation of the defined standards of conduct established by a society. Selfishness and greed have no color or ethnicity.

Seemingly, the higher position one has in life, the greater the temptations and the greater the lust. The man who commits a street robbery for twenty dollars or breaks in a home to steal a television does not aspire to steal millions. The executive who funnels milllions would not contemplate a stickup or burglary.

Thanks for an intelligently written post Rev.