Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The rich really are different from the rest of us

So, Richard Frase, under what theory of punishment would you classify the Federal Government's decision not to indict HSBC in exchange for a payment of $1.9 billion?


Here we are sentencing petty thieves to life sentences because of "three strikes and you're out" laws across this country. We sentence folks caught with crack cocaine to more severe sentences than those caught with powder cocaine. We sentence financial swindlers to terms of years in federal prisons.

But we let HSBC off the hook in exchange for a chunk of change. We're willing to forget about the money laundering services provided to the Mexican drug cartels. We don't care that you provided services for Iran and other countries when the federal government said it was a no-no.

The local prosecutor won't considering reducing a felony to a misdemeanor for a young man with no criminal history who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He stole nothing and he harmed no one. But, no. We can't reduce that charge.

And we can't go a different direction on that DWI, either. He can take the deal or he can go to trial.

Of course neither one of them had $1.9 billion handy. Neither one of them was too big to fail.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he said the rich were different than us. They are. They are treated differently. We mustn't ruin a life. We mustn't bring down a big bank.

But the rest of y'all can go to hell. No special deals. No breaks. You do the crime, you do the time. Anything else would be patently unfair.

Everyone knows the system is rigged. The federal government's decision not to prosecute a bank in exchange for filthy lucre is but the latest example. It won't be the last. Meanwhile go tell that young man in the holdover that the state just can't go below four years on its offer. After all, he's not too big to fail.

See also:

"Dickering over the price," Simple Justice (12/13/2012)

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