Just in time for the Black Friday sales, this week the Department of Justice announced the "largest ever" taxpayer funded regifting deal, a $13 billion global settlement with the welfare kings at JP Morgan for its role in "knowingly bundling toxic loans and selling them to unsuspecting investors." Although they admitted to the fraud, no one from JP Morgan was required to do jail time under the agreement. Consumer protection advocate Senator Elizabeth Warren and her colleagues expressed their outrage in a letter to the DOJ over the fact that JP Morgan's settlement my be partly tax deductible.
To make matters worse, fraudster JP Morgan is on the public assistance roles, receiving as much as $14 billion per year in "free" money from the government. No, their CEOs are not enrolled in the types of welfare programs that the victims of their scams might have been forced onto, such as food stamps, section 8 housing assistance, social security, or Medicaid-programs which are now experiencing deep cuts.
Huffington Post's Mark Gongloff explained last year:
The IMF figures that big banks pay about 0.8 percentage points less in interest to borrow, compared with ordinary mortal banks that have the misfortune of not being too big to fail. That lower interest rate translates into about $76 billion per year for the 18 biggest U.S. banks, Bloomberg writes, of which JPMorgan's share is $14 billion. Fun fact: That $76 billion is more than enough to pay for the $30 billion in extended unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the year...This figure does not include the $12 billion windfall JPMorgan and other big banks are expected to get from the government's HARP refinancing program -- which, again, JPMorgan is only taking advantage of for the good of the country.
Again, JP Morgan just admitted to the DOJ that they used their welfare benefits to run an international fraud ring, and yet no one is going to jail for it. That's the difference between JP Morgan fraudsters and the average single parent on welfare (>80 percent of whom are battered women) who will actually have to do jail time if caught selling their food stamps to make ends meet.
While the EBT fraud scandal has certainly put a bee in the Tea Party's bonnet, I don't expect the same conservative representatives to begin flooding Capitol Hill with bills that will in any way meaningfully restrict the banking industry's activities. No, the Tea Party has yet to propose laws which would require JPM CEO Jamie Dimon and his cronies to be drug tested as a condition of receiving welfare, they will not be forced to make their private necessity purchases on government tracked EBT cards, and social workers will not be making random visits to their homes to second guess their parenting skills and root through their private belongings.
The bigger question is, What will JP Morgan's CEOs do with all the freedom and plunder the DOJ has generously allowed them to keep?
It's as if the DOJ was taking notes out of the Kardashian family's deal with the E! network to make a show called "Keeping Us Down With The Banking Industry."
You see "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" is a show based on ideals that I would consider to be the toxic remnants of the Reagan era's over the top and drug fueled partying, narcissism, self indulgence and waste -- with absolutely no regard for the future consequences of their own actions. Based on the few episodes I've seen, the Kardashian family spends most of their days pre-occupied with themselves, sneering at their cell phones, changing their clothes, "getting glam," and getting in cat fights. Kardashians constantly indulge themselves with various luxury items and services to sooth the [self inflicted and very profitable] "pain" of the media spotlight.
But what bothers me most about the Kardashian lifestyle is that (much like JP Morgan's leadership) they seem to be absolutely oblivious to just how offensive their lavish and wasteful life choices are to the average "fan" who is struggling to make ends meet. Although you may not be able to locate a single book shelf in any of the Kardashian's mansions, you will always be able to locate the party, the spa, and the rehab center.
Instead of setting an example for young girls by furthering their own education or contributing something meaningful to society, Kardashians spend their time throwing themselves inappropriately lavish parties that would put the Great Gatsby to shame. Sure, the proceeds from some of these parties may go to charity, but since when is it OK to teach your kids that throwing YOURSELF an extravagant [tax deductible?] Sweet Sixteen bash is actually doing poor kids a favor? Does a 16-ear-old need a couple Mercedes SUVs more than a tour to visit prospective colleges? Since when does anyone going on their third marriage need a $8 million engagement ring?
To their own credit, the family told Barbara Walters that it doesn't claim to have any discernible "talents," and they don't market themselves as the best entertainers in the world. Perhaps all the E! network may require of a Kardashian really is to cut yourself off from the struggles of the minions and spend overtime promoting your own superficial image?
How is the E! network's work ethos any different than the process of becoming a banker, which requires one to cut themselves off from all meaningful ties to society to work 90+ hours a week for a soulless employer?
The difference between the Kardashians and the banking industry is that (a) the Kardashians appear to only waste their own money, (b) the government actually prosecutes and incarcerates reality stars who engage in fraud, and (c ) the legal system has actually spawned reforms in the way the media industry treats its interns, while a banking industry intern may have died of exhaustion-related causes after being allowed to work three days without sleep.
The irony of it all is that until recently, the only real oversight of the banking industry we had came from the same media outlets shoving the Kardashians down our throats. Dimon would probably face more severe personal sanctions for a risqué appearance on the Howard Stern Show than he is now for his role in the financial crisis.
Perhaps the best that taxpayers can hope for now is that these banking crooks will retire, and a new, more honest breed of bankers will replace them. My suspicion is that since the crooks are still free to strike again, they will "retire" and try to recast themselves as "philanthropists." Perhaps they may continue to regift our stolen mortgages and retirement accounts back to us in the form of rigged elections funded by dark money fueled nonprofits, a portion will go to tax write offs masked as charities. Don't forget investment in continuing lobbying efforts that ensure the vast majority of the Wall Street's wealth stays firmly within the grasp of the concentrated few to the detriment of the nation's over all economic growth.
Apparently, the DOJ and the banking industry are not willing or able to enter into the types of pro-consumer agreements which might benefit the wealthy by requiring them to have a smaller share of a larger, more regulated stabile economy that grows at a healthier rate.
Money is opportunity, and Senator Warren is right to be concerned that Americans shouldn't be "fighting each other for a handful of crumbs." Only Peter Pan believes that you can obtain all the benefits in life without having to put the elbow grease into earning your piece of the pie. Should we continue to teach our kids that they can't cut corners, they must work hard in school to get good grades and pay for college, then spend years building a solid reputation in their field to get ahead? What message will our children take away from the DOJ's deal with JP Morgan?