Brain Dropping #117
Shadowlands: That could be another name for the USA – Shadowlands! So much of what affects the lives of ordinary people like me and you is done in the dark shadows of the bureaucratic landscape. Just the other day it was reported that the 2nd Circuit of the Court of Appeals vacated the convictions of two hedge fund crooks for insider trading, dealing a set back for the already lame SEC regulatory agency and the equally ineffective Justice Department. The decision will most likely stand unchallenged since fewer than 1% of Appeals Court decisions are taken up by the Supreme Court. These two goniffs made tens of millions from inside information not available to the ordinary investor. But most of the 23 judges on the Appeals Court decided that “Insider Trading” was too vague to pin down – the loot too difficult to trace to a criminal “quid pro quo” arrangement. Who are these all-powerful Judges? How does the man-in-the-street determine if any of them have conflicts of interest? For the more cynical among us – how many have been bought off by Wall street? You know, a swanky dinner here, a Caribbean vacation there – hardly a rarity among corrupt bureaucrats. And these judges are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate and serve for life – hardly a recipe for trustworthiness.
Day before yesterday the DOJ indicated that it will go easy on two big pharmaceutical companies, Biomet and Zimmer about to merge, despite solid evidence that they bribed officials in Mexico and Brazil. Brandon L. Garrett author of “Too Big To Jail – How Prosecutors Compromise With Corporations” states: “If prosecutors want companies to take bribery laws seriously then they can’t keep letting companies violate the law over and over again.” Sound familiar? Well, guess who is gonna make a bundle out of this merger – Goldman Sachs in te role of broker! It’s going to be “deja-vu” , all over again as the Attorney General is going to extend a deferred prosecution option to the companies to allow them to correct their criminal behavior without any jail time. Why? You know – a swanky dinner here, a Caribbean vacation there, and the reward of a revolving door job with a salary in six figures, after leaving government service.
Scene in Fantasyland: A courtroom in Brooklyn. Judge: “You were caught red-handed coming out of that bank with the loot!” Thug: “But your honor it was a momentary lapse in ethical behavior – I have Tourettes Syndrome and often the compulsion makes me do things that go against my normal decency.” Judge: “Well, in that case I’ll give you the option of deferred prosecution. No jail time! I trust that in the near future you will redeem yourself.”
How does this sliminess affect us ordinary schmos? Why by encouraging more deeply rooted corruption in government, and higher and higher drug prices. And it’s only getting worse!