The Justice Department this week announced a $5 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs in connection with its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. "This resolution holds Goldman Sachs accountable for its serious misconduct in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages, when it knew that they were full of mortgages that were likely to fail," Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery said in a statement.
Corporations want to be treated like citizens. Therefore, the same rules should apply to corporations. This is similar to taxes: many corporations avoid paying heavy taxes through legal loopholes. But if corporations want to be citizens, then let them pay at the same tax rate. Simple.
As a citizen, if you’re caught robbing a bank, you pay the fine and go to jail. This is my point: corporations like Goldman Sachs say they want to be treated like citizens, and yet, that rule only applies when it benefits them.
The government squeezed $5 billion out of Goldman Sachs for the financial crisis, but we ought to look at how much the company actually profited during those troubled years. If $5 billion is only a fraction of their earnings, then it’s as if they only committed a speed violation. In 2007 alone, Goldman Sachs reported earnings of $17.6 billion pretax. In 2009, they made $20 billion pretax. And yet we’re only fining them $5 billion?
It's laughable when the government fines them only $5 billion. That's a joke. If you rob a bank, you wouldn’t be able to keep all the money, would you? See, that's why white-collar crime pays and blue-collar crime doesn’t. With white-collar crime, you don't go to jail; you simply pay a fine of about 20 percent and you get to keep the rest.
When you own the system, you can get away with screwing the system, can't you? It doesn't seem any plainer than that to me. Rob everybody blind, get caught, nobody goes to jail, you get a little fine, and you get to keep the majority of the profit that you’ve robbed. It's as simple as that. Bottom line is: no one, not even corporations or our government, should pick and chose when to apply the law. Otherwise, the law means nothing.It has to be applied equally.
I'm sure Goldman Sachs has given us their assurances they won't do this again. But it does become comical -- comical in the way you cry, laugh and throw your hands up in the air, all at the same time -- you have to laugh at it as the tears run down your face.
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