Okay! Let’s say that the news reported a new kind of crime. Let’s call it…oh, I don’t know…Yellow Sleeve Crime (YSC). According to the report, research by the FBI estimates the costs of this new crime to the American public at between $300 and $600 billion dollars. This is between 2 and 3 times the costs of illegal drug use. This crime has immediate consequences on the health and safety of individuals, being responsible for over 60,000 injuries and deaths per year.
You might say that this is a significant social problem that needs to be addressed. We have a war against drugs; it looks like we should also have a war against YSC. In fact, in the interests of proportionate response, the Federal Government should be spending more money and utilizing more resources to fight YSC than it does on the drug war. Would that not be a fair assessment?
Then you find that the government is not only dedicating very little resources to this serious crime, but it has actually reduced the percentage of prosecutions for such crime in half since the beginning of the decade!
If you would be outraged by this hypothetical scenario then you are not alone. Fortunately, this is just a story. Certainly, there’s no such criminal activity that is so routinely ignored and neglected.
According to the New York Times this morning the Federal Government has brought fewer cases of stock market fraud to court than in the heyday of the Enron and Worldcom scandals in the first years of the millennium.
“There were 133 prosecutions for securities fraud in the first 11 months of this fiscal year. That is down from 437 cases in 2000 and from a high of 513 cases in 2002, when Wall Street scandals from Enron to WorldCom led to a crackdown on corporate crime, the data showed.At the S.E.C., agency investigations that led to Justice Department prosecutions for securities fraud dropped from 69 in 2000 to just 9 in 2007, a decline of 87 percent, the data showed.”
Did I miss something, here? Now that our economy is in ruins due to corporate and banking chicanery we find that our government is condoning such graft by turning its back.
Instead, we fund graft through taxpayer bailouts of the very criminals we should be locking up.
Thomas Friedman, in the same issue of the Times noted that the United States needs more than a bailout, we need an economic reboot. But to extend the computer analogy further, we need more than a reboot, we need a debugging. Our system is full of viruses and trojans and worms and will never function right unless we purge the system of these defects.