Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
The funny thing about Wall Street banksters is that they make a killing by defrauding millions of homeowners, customers, investors, and taxpayers -- then, when caught, they wonder why we don't love them.
That's "funny" as in bizarre, not as in ha-ha.
Still, it's hard not to laugh at Jamie Dimon, the vainglorious, silver-haired boss of the JPMorgan Chase house of banksters. Last year alone the bank racked up a record level of regulatory fines for the recidivist criminal operation overseen by the boss. A little self-reproachment might have done him some good, but Dimon chose a funny way (again meaning bizarre) to express remorse: He's been running a feel-sorry-for-me campaign, claiming that he's the victim of this sordid story!
Never mind his long rap sheet of malfeasance and incompetence, which cost so many so much, Jamie wails that everything from Wall Street's bailout to the pay of top bank executives have made people envious of bankers' success. Thus, he moans, an anti-Wall Street sentiment has spread through the public, prompting politicians and regulators to pander to this populist anger by persecuting enterprising bankers like him. He called the whole thing "unfair."
Good grief. This guy builds bank profits through rip-offs, piles billions of dollars in fines on the backs of shareholders, pockets $20 million in personal pay for one year's work -- and he wants us to weep for him? Being a Wall Street boss, you see, means never having to say you're sorry, for it's always someone else's fault.
Only 25 years ago, more than a thousand bankers were prosecuted for this sort of malfeasance during the savings & loan scandal. Let's return to the ethical accountability of those days. Or maybe We the People should send our own message to today's banksters by rolling a guillotine down the center of Wall Street.
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