Oh Yeah? You and what army?
The silver lining news is filled these days with stories about a few professions that are actually hiring (the military, repo men/women). “Where to find a paycheck,” was a segment this morning on CNN. But there’s one kind of employment our new President has absolutely ensured will be expanding: enforcers.
Don’t dust off your Green Hornet costume. These new avenging angels will have slide rules, calculators, definitely financial and maybe legal backgrounds, and several pairs of reading glasses.
Mr. Obama has sworn to eliminate waste and fraud, both in government and in the private sector. He has pledged to impose “fiscal responsibility.” That means going after everyone who’s fiscally — never mind criminally — irresponsible. Presidential advisor David Axelrod has promised they’ll monitor the effectiveness of government programs. It’s a great idea but this is not San Francisco Keystone Kop crime corner cameras, where the light’s on but no one’s watching. This Obama pledge requires a hell of a lot of policing. So far, we’ve just seen the top of the tip of the toxic iceberg of bad actors and their shenanigans.
Call me cynical, but the last decade or two has proven what cultural observers have always known: human nature is like the shopping cart with the weird wheel. Given the chance, some substantial number of people will veer off the moral track and do the wrong thing, no matter what. President Obama has essentially called for a new moral order. Just ask the deposed Focus On The Family’s James Dobson, or Elie Weisel, who’s felt the lash of evil on both ends of his life, how hard it is to enforce morality in this country. And with the economic panic going on here and around the world, getting a vice grip on our calamity and its perpetrators really is an issue of national security.
Until now, places that were supposed to enforce the rules, like the SEC, have not. Or maybe that early Bernie Madoff alarm bell just got lost in the mail. No wonder Mr. Madoff looks so calm and serene in photos these days. He and the other marauders are just not used to being held truly accountable.
We’ll need many thousands of Eliot Spitzers (not the D.C. hotel room part) to clean things up, with zeal and proper righteousness and some serious tools, maybe up to and including the death penalty.
In the “putting-your-money-where-your-mouth-is” category, Mr. Obama actually injected a big bunch of dough into the budget for more enforcement at the EPA, the FDA, HUD, the Department of Commerce, OSHA and even NASA.
New SEC commission head Mary Schapiro has said her agency will now have a “laser-like focus on fraud.” She also said she will “take the handcuffs” off the SEC’s enforcement division. But that means putting the cuffs on some bad guys, past, present and future. Maybe that should include Goldman Sachs, the dark shadow behind the bottomless money pit of AIG. Or these former top executives of the corrupted bloat that was Countrywide Financial who are now making a second killing because of the mess their old operation created in the home mortgage field.
Supposedly it’s all legal but that’s like shooting people dead, then collecting a piece the undertaker fees.
Did you see Appaloosa? Our town is full of Randall Braggs and Sheriff Virgil Cole Obama needs to start deputizing a lot of people, and fast.
For more, read Bronstein at Large.