Thursday, March 14, 2013
In an era of perpetual war laws are always silent
The 12 largest U.S. banks — “systemically significant financial institutions,” in the words of the Dodd-Frank reform legislation— control 69 percent of all financial assets, according to the conservative president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher. As we have seen, they have the capacity to blow up the economy from their own excesses. Yet they now can apparently trample the laws with impunity, confident that they risk, at worst, an infrequent fine that is the equivalent in relation to their earnings of a New Yorker paying a parking ticket.
The laws, Cicero wrote in the days of the Roman Republic, “are silent in time of war.” But what if the war has no end, no defined enemy, no defined territory? How can markets work if the financial behemoths are too big to fail and too big to jail?
If the national security state has the power of life or death above the law, and Wall Street has the power to plunder beyond the law, in what way does this remain a nation of laws?
Katrina vandem Heuvel