07 August 2018

Yeah, Pretty Much

One of the problems in America today is that no one is going after white collar criminals any more, so we are seeing a lot more white collar crime:
One possible lesson of the many brazen, conspicuous scandals related to President Trump and others in his orbit: The U.S. government has been massively underinvesting in enforcement and prosecution of white-collar crime.

Trumpkins argue that the pileup of charges against onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is a sign that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gone rogue. After all, many of the allegations against Manafort — laundering $30 million in income, submitting false tax returns, lying to banks, failing to register as a foreign agent, obstructing justice — stem from his work in and for Ukraine before 2016. They’re not directly related to his time on the Trump campaign.


There was the apparent treatment of the Trump Foundation as a personal checkbook, from which Trump used other people’s charitable donations to settle his for-profit businesses’ legal disputes and to purchase gigantic portraits of himself. The operation of Eric Trump’s personal foundation also has raised similar questions of self-dealing, according to Forbes.

Or there’s the fishy stock trades by Trump cronies, including Carl Icahn and even the current commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. Ross shorted the stock of a Kremlin-linked company days after he learned journalists were reporting a potentially negative story about the firm. (Both Icahn and Ross have denied engaging in insider trading.)

Or former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s failure to register as a foreign agent working on behalf of Turkey.

There’s a clear reason so many Trump-related figures likely felt free to engage in dodgy behavior in broad daylight: They didn’t expect anyone to care. And absent the scrutiny that came with Trump’s political success, such activities probably would have gone ignored.

Federal prosecutions of white-collar crime — a category that includes tax, corporate, health-care or securities fraud, among other crimes — are on track this year to reach their lowest level on record. That’s according to data compiled by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), whose data go back to 1986. Prosecutions of crimes related to public corruption are also on pace to set a record low.


Some argue that big corporations and the wealthy have become too politically influential. Jesse Eisinger, in his excellent book “The Chickensh%$ Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives ,” blames a culture of risk aversion in the ranks of the Justice Department. Eric H. Holder Jr., an attorney general under Obama, once suggested that corporate consolidation left some firms too big to jail.
We can add to these examples to the case of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose dubious business history led Forbes magazine to note, "If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history."

I would argue that the current antipathy of prosecutors to go after white collar criminals has led to an explosion in criminal behavior.

It really is time for broken windows policing to apply to white people.


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