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Author Topic: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.  (Read 532 times)

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Offline TriesteTopic starter

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This is last week's news, but I don't see a topic about it. This surprises me. I caught wind of an article on FB this morning that mentioned "The Untouchables", PBS Frontline's program about the DoJ's response (or lack thereof) to wrongdoing on Wall Street circa 2008.

If you're curious, you can watch the program here, in a series of four videos (although the second and the third overlap). There's an article on prwatch that has placed the responsibility for Lanny Breuer's resignation on PBS' shoulders.

I know that the general assumption is that money kept the DoJ from going after many of the top execs, but I'm not sure if it's that simple. After all, these people move in circles where everyone has money, and people are still people. They are still going to have petty grudges, insults, and they will still take things personally.

I would recommend not watching this program if you don't want to get angry, though... It made me very angry and I can't imagine that many people can hear, "It was like a party [while I helped destroy the economic future of my fellow citizens]!" and not be at least a little annoyed.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 02:20:18 PM »
I find it quite telling that the securities fraud of the 80s was compared to this event and how totally DIFFERENT the outcome of both has been. No one.. NOT one executive has been found guilty of any single bit of fraud..even when they were pushing bonds they were betting on failing to their OWN clients.. that is without a doubt a fraud to me.. you're misrepresenting what you thinking going into the shitter..and teling your own customers to buy them anyway. Telling them the bonds will take off.

Now I know why my retirement savings in the military tanked so quickly.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 10:03:57 PM »
I think that's the part that makes me the angriest, is that they were allowed to essentially take in customers and then bet against them.

In the program itself, on the segment about due diligence, being told to refine your standards to the point that a waitress claiming to make $12k a month 'sounds reasonable' pretty much sounds like fraud to me.

I can't believe no one has been prosecuted for this.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 10:09:52 PM »
Yeah.. I watched it and then the 'Choice 2012' till Comcast's throttling crap killed my streaming speed.

Offline elone

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2013, 12:39:16 AM »
I saw this when it aired and was astonished, particularly by Lanny Breuer's seemingly nonchalant attitude about it all. I don't think he was bothered a bit by the fact that not a single CEO or corporate executive was charged, much less tried.

This led me to wonder what his superiors were up to at the time. What was our illustrious Attorney General Eric Holder doing at the time. Maybe too much corporate money going into campaign funds.

The whole thing makes me sick, one item in particular was, I think, Jamie Dimon getting into his limo after the hearings laughing his ass off.

Frontline did another pice on this earlier, can't remember what the tile was that was equally interesting.

I remember housing in my neighborhood being sold to people who obviously could not afford it. (they all got forclosed on later). I called about a house listed at 600k, out of curiosity, and the realtor told me not to worry about my income, they could get me a loan. So, as far as I am concerned, this whole mess started at the bottom with realtors, and went up the ladder.

Pure greed from top to bottom.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2013, 12:52:25 AM »
Part of the problem was that there were no barriers in the banks. You had Glass-Stegall done away with. With no legal reason to separate commercial and investment banks. With the 'shark' attitude of the investment banks of Wall Street, this sort of thing was inevitable.

Making cash with little to no actual effort or return? It was to be expected. Once things soured.. simply pass the toxic paper between banks and keep bringing in money. The little people don't matter when you're pulling 6+ figure bonuses. Business Ethics, in America, is dead..not that it was ever very healthy.


Offline ReijiTabibito

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2013, 03:06:39 PM »
Another major part of the problem is with the overall landscape of our culture today.  Now, I'm not hating on America, we have some very positive things about us.  But we are human, and being human means we have bad parts, too.

Greg Smith, when he left Goldman-Sachs, talked about a manifestation of this particular issue - the Muppet Syndrome, where clients were referred to as 'muppets' and the recommendations of most Goldman personnel had nothing to do with what was best for the client but what was best for G-S.  That is the infection in the psyche today.  MEMINE.  I.

Which, frankly, shouldn't be all that surprising.  When you believe that life is an accident, that there is no afterlife and, to borrow G Gordon's phrase "We die and are food for the worms," when this life is all that there is, then it's natural to work for as much as you can in the span of your lifetime.  Sacrificing the possible longterm benefits for maximizing profit in the short-term is only a natural reaction to the belief that every minute counts, that tomorrow you might be dead, and have nothing to show for your deeds, because there's no glowing ball of light at the end of the tunnel to reward you.

And it isn't just in the business arena, fellow Americans...

Offline Rogue

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2013, 07:56:53 PM »
Another major part of the problem is with the overall landscape of our culture today.  Now, I'm not hating on America, we have some very positive things about us.  But we are human, and being human means we have bad parts, too.

Greg Smith, when he left Goldman-Sachs, talked about a manifestation of this particular issue - the Muppet Syndrome, where clients were referred to as 'muppets' and the recommendations of most Goldman personnel had nothing to do with what was best for the client but what was best for G-S.  That is the infection in the psyche today.  MEMINE.  I.

Which, frankly, shouldn't be all that surprising.  When you believe that life is an accident, that there is no afterlife and, to borrow G Gordon's phrase "We die and are food for the worms," when this life is all that there is, then it's natural to work for as much as you can in the span of your lifetime.  Sacrificing the possible longterm benefits for maximizing profit in the short-term is only a natural reaction to the belief that every minute counts, that tomorrow you might be dead, and have nothing to show for your deeds, because there's no glowing ball of light at the end of the tunnel to reward you.

And it isn't just in the business arena, fellow Americans...

As a side note: Yes this is all horrendous that this is happening. And yes they should very much be held accountable, but no it has nothing to do with believing life is an "accident", there is no afterlife, ect. I know many people who are very good people and good to other people and American who believe all those things so please don't assume. :)

On the main note, it is the business mentality of getting people into more than they could handle. It's also a lack of education in some of these cases and why an economy class is required to graduate high school, and a economy curriculum should be started in middle school, not during high school where people are more likely to drop out. Many people do not fully understand the consequences of loans and credit cards and bonds and investing in stock. This falls down to lack of education as well as a lack of accountability on the business end. Because unfortunately they learned from what happened in the 80's and in the paperwork, that people generally just sign where told and don't read, they specified everything that needed to be specified to not get fraud charges.

I agree that this is all ridiculously messed up and something needs to be done. But it's not just that people need to be punished (which they do). People need to be educated. And in Elone's specific example, people need to learn when something is out of their reach at that moment. While a half a million dollar house should not be available to someone making 9000-20,000 a year, someone making 9-20 thousand should not be trying to buy a half a million dollar house. Income should definitely be a deciding factor in whether or not they should get a loan, but it should also be up to them to know if they can put money to the side for the loan payment or not. I'm sympathetic. Really I am. This should not have even happened to begin with and the businesses should be held responsible. However, the people who this happened to should have been educated to begin with. ((I'm also going to put in, I'm not talking about people that have lost their jobs and got whatever job they needed and they already had this financial burden. That's extenuating circumstances and have nothing to do with this spiel.))

On a second side note: I didn't watch the video.  I know it'll just make me mad and I know the gist is yeah we just screwed everyone out of a bunch of money but we don't care, we gonna party anyways.

Offline Tiberius

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2013, 08:46:36 PM »
Crap a lot of this stuff i've been reading about American business and banking practices are completely illegal in Australia, we've had a few major companies collapse and the police have caught up with the CEOs and executives and either dumped massive fines on them or prosecuted them for breaking business ethics laws. Our Australian banks all of the major banks are currently caught up in a major ethics scandal and are set to be forced to pay out billions of dollars in wrongful bank fees. We have the laws here to enforce industrial and commerical integrity while not compromising efforts for big business to have their mega profits.

How has the corruption and the multiple unethical business practice survived so long in the US? Has the government been ignorant to it? Or have they supported the corruption that has led to the massive mess the country now finds itself mired in?

Offline Oniya

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2013, 08:54:21 PM »
How has the corruption and the multiple unethical business practice survived so long in the US? Has the government been ignorant to it? Or have they supported the corruption that has led to the massive mess the country now finds itself mired in?

Look up something called 'Citizens United'.  Have an emesis bag handy.

Offline Tiberius

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2013, 08:55:46 PM »
On the main note, it is the business mentality of getting people into more than they could handle. It's also a lack of education in some of these cases and why an economy class is required to graduate high school, and a economy curriculum should be started in middle school, not during high school where people are more likely to drop out. Many people do not fully understand the consequences of loans and credit cards and bonds and investing in stock. This falls down to lack of education as well as a lack of accountability on the business end. Because unfortunately they learned from what happened in the 80's and in the paperwork, that people generally just sign where told and don't read, they specified everything that needed to be specified to not get fraud charges.

I agree that this is all ridiculously messed up and something needs to be done. But it's not just that people need to be punished (which they do). People need to be educated. And in Elone's specific example, people need to learn when something is out of their reach at that moment. While a half a million dollar house should not be available to someone making 9000-20,000 a year, someone making 9-20 thousand should not be trying to buy a half a million dollar house. Income should definitely be a deciding factor in whether or not they should get a loan, but it should also be up to them to know if they can put money to the side for the loan payment or not. I'm sympathetic. Really I am. This should not have even happened to begin with and the businesses should be held responsible. However, the people who this happened to should have been educated to begin with. ((I'm also going to put in, I'm not talking about people that have lost their jobs and got whatever job they needed and they already had this financial burden. That's extenuating circumstances and have nothing to do with this spiel.))

On a second side note: I didn't watch the video.  I know it'll just make me mad and I know the gist is yeah we just screwed everyone out of a bunch of money but we don't care, we gonna party anyways.
As a side note: Yes this is all horrendous that this is happening. And yes they should very much be held accountable, but no it has nothing to do with believing life is an "accident", there is no afterlife, ect. I know many people who are very good people and good to other people and American who believe all those things so please don't assume. :)

On the main note, it is the business mentality of getting people into more than they could handle. It's also a lack of education in some of these cases and why an economy class is required to graduate high school, and a economy curriculum should be started in middle school, not during high school where people are more likely to drop out. Many people do not fully understand the consequences of loans and credit cards and bonds and investing in stock. This falls down to lack of education as well as a lack of accountability on the business end. Because unfortunately they learned from what happened in the 80's and in the paperwork, that people generally just sign where told and don't read, they specified everything that needed to be specified to not get fraud charges.

I agree that this is all ridiculously messed up and something needs to be done. But it's not just that people need to be punished (which they do). People need to be educated. And in Elone's specific example, people need to learn when something is out of their reach at that moment. While a half a million dollar house should not be available to someone making 9000-20,000 a year, someone making 9-20 thousand should not be trying to buy a half a million dollar house. Income should definitely be a deciding factor in whether or not they should get a loan, but it should also be up to them to know if they can put money to the side for the loan payment or not. I'm sympathetic. Really I am. This should not have even happened to begin with and the businesses should be held responsible. However, the people who this happened to should have been educated to begin with. ((I'm also going to put in, I'm not talking about people that have lost their jobs and got whatever job they needed and they already had this financial burden. That's extenuating circumstances and have nothing to do with this spiel.))

On a second side note: I didn't watch the video.  I know it'll just make me mad and I know the gist is yeah we just screwed everyone out of a bunch of money but we don't care, we gonna party anyways.

One of our biggest banks has had a branch manager get thrown in jail and the bank is now up for criminal investigation after multiple forged documents were made out so he could approve loans to people that could not afford them. Loans that they would never be able to repay, the bank lost millions of dollars after the court ordered the people who received the loans could keep the property and the bank was forced to swallow the loss which counted millions of dollars which isn't much for a bank but its the principle of that. It just seems that our laws in Australia are much stronger and have a greater chance of catching and fixing fraud/near-fraud cases such as these ones.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2013, 08:57:47 PM »
I have seen several of your posts, Tiberius, touting the Australian system. I think it's fantastic that you love your country, but please keep in mind that I also love mine. Every single country has ways in which it needs improvement - every one. Australia (pop 22.6 million) has the luxury of not having to deal with the massive scale that the US (pop 313.9 million) does. So the bankroll of billions that you mentioned in another thread is able to go a much longer way in Australia than in the US. Comparing the two is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. We are very different in terms of infrastructure, population, culture, climate, geography, and many, many other factors. Thank you very much in advance for keeping that in mind. :)

How has the corruption and the multiple unethical business practice survived so long in the US? Has the government been ignorant to it? Or have they supported the corruption that has led to the massive mess the country now finds itself mired in?

That said, this very question is actually what PBS is trying to answer - why no bankers have been jailed for the behavior that went on on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis in the first place. The answer is not either-or, but much more complicated than that. There are some corrupt elements in the US government, to be sure, but corruption is not publicly supported, nor is it ignored, nor does it go unnoticed. I hope that answers your questions.

Offline Tiberius

Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2013, 09:03:07 PM »
A lot of things would help if the government wasn't scared to run through the old laws that business abuse to slip through loopholes and shut them down to prevent the corruption from running rampant. I do admit that comparing a country which has a far smaller country and an economic size about 1/16 of the US does provide difference. It is good though that now things are finally progressing against big business corruption, that the threatening edge of a near Depression has forced the government and other civilian bodies to rethink how things are run.

Offline ReijiTabibito

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Re: PBS Frontline's "The Untouchables", Lanny Breuer, and 'too big to jail'.
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 06:50:22 AM »
That said, this very question is actually what PBS is trying to answer - why no bankers have been jailed for the behavior that went on on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis in the first place. The answer is not either-or, but much more complicated than that. There are some corrupt elements in the US government, to be sure, but corruption is not publicly supported, nor is it ignored, nor does it go unnoticed. I hope that answers your questions.

I watched an interview on the Daily Show, and I think that Jon and his interviewee -  Neil Barovsky - hit the nail on the head.  The ultimate reason that this happened, beyond repeal of Glass-Steagall, beyond all the stuff I said earlier, is because the people running businesses in the US today are like little spoiled kids.  The government has to use kid gloves on them because heaven knows that if they throw another temper tantrum over the government taking their 'fairly-earned' monies, then they can just decide to throw the entire US economy, and perhaps a good chunk of the global, right out the window.

There's no effective means of disciplining or restraining them on the books, and attempts to set such things into place only cause their army of lobbyists and pet Congressmen to work their asses off defeating whatever might affect them.

I've heard Vekseid say this on the boards, and I'll say it here.

Things are bad - more and more of your average Americans are having to take on more debt, work longer, worry more about retirement.  But the reason that nothing is happening is that things are not so bad that people are being forced to act.

That will come when there is passed legislation that, say, ends the food stamp program and a large chunk of the country is forced to either act up and bring down the system or let their families starve.