Many congress critters like to rise up on their hind legs and bellow that they're "tough on crime."
But they all seem to suffer from a genetic defect known as "Upper-Class Crime Exceptionitis." One symptom of UCCE is that lawmakers who take a hard line against common bank robbers, suddenly go flaccidly soft when it's the bankers doing the robbing. We're presently witnessing an epidemic of UCCE in Washington's coddling of Wall Street's fraud-meisters. Hardly a month goes by without one or more of these royal bankers conceding that they've been systematically stealing people's homes, defrauding their own customers, doing illegal trades, laundering drug money, and so forth.
However, not a single one of them has been prosecuted, much less put in the pokey. More bewildering, none have been sacked -- they still rule their Wall Street roosts and live in palatial luxury. Prosecutors say there's little they can do, for lawmakers effectively legalize their crimes.
So, does no one have a cure for this gross injustice? Well, there is one person our legislators might consult: Pope Francis! He's been in office for only six months, but he's already launched a clean-up of the corrupt Vatican bank and has proclaimed by word and deed that the moral standard for church officials -- from bishops to bankers -- is to be: Humility, modest living, and service (especially to the poor). To punctuate his seriousness, the Pope moved swiftly in October to depose a vainglorious German bishop who was spending millions of the church's dollars on his lavish lifestyle, including buying a $20,000 bathtub. Bishops, Francis said forcefully, should not live "like princes."
Nor should bankers. To stop this thievery, we need a secular "pope" with the fortitude to depose a few of the Princes of Wall Street and set a new ethical tone.
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Photo: Flickr user Semilla Luz, creative commons licensed.