Even though he's widely viewed as the most perfect human being to have ever walked the Earth, Jesus did commit one violent act during his time here. In the "Cleansing of the Temple," story, all four of the gospels talk about Jesus making a whip out of cords and using it to drive the moneychangers out of the temple, dumping their jars of coins into the streets, kicking over their tables, and accusing them of turning a holy place into a "den of robbers."
Today, Wall Street has turned a government once founded by someone who believed banks were "more dangerous than standing armies" into one that gives "Too Big to Fail" banks 3 cents of every tax dollar. Even Bloomberg News, which is owned by a guy who made his billions on Wall Street, has plainly stated that nearly 100 percent of profits generated by the five biggest banks -- JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs -- are made possible by taxpayer handouts and subsidies. According to the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve, these same five banks own roughly half of all assets held by the banking industry. And even the conservative Dallas Fed says we need to break up the banks.
Elizabeth Warren, newest member of the Senate Banking Committee, recently got into it with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke over breaking up TBTF banks. While he went back and forth with Sen. Warren, even Bernanke eventually agreed that big banks could be broken up without causing serious harm to the economy. But Warren doesn't just want to see the big banks broken up; she wants to see bankers stand trial for their crimes against the American people and economy. But we know the current crop of federal bank regulators that came straight to Washington through the revolving door from Wall Street won't do it. Warren proved that to us live on C-SPAN in her first committee hearing. We have to be the ones to do it.
They're almost begging us to arrest them. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who paid himself an astronomically high salary to create abstract financial instruments that wrecked the economy in 2008, is one of the biggest cheerleaders of austerity in Washington. Blankfein will go on TV and say, with a straight face, that working people who already struggle to make ends meet will have to put off retirement and work longer. It's okay for Blankfein to say that, because according to him, he does "God's work." JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon bragged to a roomful of wealthy investors that because his bank is so monstrously large, it actually "benefits from downturns" while everyone else is losing all they have. Wall Street's bonus pool has actually quintupled since 1985. And at over $362,900 a year, the average Wall Street salary in 2011 is almost ten times higher than median income for most Americans. There's something very wrong with this picture. Especially when our government will arrest an ex-Marine for simply wearing a jacket that says "Occupy Everything," but not the banker who smiles as he's robbing all of us of our homes and our retirement security. It's time for some citizens' arrests.
The website Contact the CEO has home addresses for the CEOs of all of the top Fortune 100 companies. You'll find the home address for both Jamie Dimon's mansion in Mount Kisco, N.Y. and for Lloyd Blankfein's lush apartment at 15 Central Park West just down the street from Columbus Square in Manhattan, for which he paid $26 million in cash. All of this is public information found in any phone book and legal to publish. After cuffing these bankers, we'll find a way to make them stand trial for their crimes, and lock them up after they've been tried and convicted. Once their sugar daddies are in jail and unable to fund their reelection campaigns, and once the fury of the people has been exhibited in public, we'll force Congress to reinstate the Glass-Steagall act, which separates banks that make deposits and withdrawals and loans from banks that gamble in derivatives and credit default swaps. It won't do anything but help the economy recover. Iceland arrested and jailed their criminal bankers, and their economy is outperforming both the U.S. and the EU.
The 7,719 people protesting the banks' greed have been arrested for doing nothing other than using their First Amendment rights. At the same time, zero bankers have been arrested for robbing billions of dollars from millions of people. As Elizabeth Warren showed the world, the government officials trusted with the job of arresting bankers and bringing them to trial haven't done it and won't do it. So if you ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do?", the answer is clear: Cleanse the temple, and bring these crooked bankers to justice.