Head Smacker: If You Aint Cheating, You Aint Trying


May 22, 2015

If you aint cheating, you aint trying.”

That’s what a currency trader at Barclays Bank shared in an online chat room about criminal currency manipulation. Those words to live by have resulted in four mammoth banks pleading guilty to federal collusion charges. They will pay fines of $5.6 billion. That’s on top of previous penalties of $4.25 billion assessed on some of the banks last November.

This is the Voices for Human Needs blog. I don’t know a thing about currency manipulation. I don’t know all the ways it hurts average folks, but I know some. If nothing else, penalty negotiations with the Justice Department have sometimes included the extent to which fines are tax-deductible. That means us taxpayers subsidize their wrongdoing. One thing is clear: over and over again, the financial big guys flout the law, make billions, and see the occasional fines as a cost of doing business. Head smacker stuff.

And one more thing is clear – nobody goes to jail.

Shortly after I read about this, I went to a press conference held by a number of members of Congress, calling on the federal government to stop incarcerating mothers and children who have come to this country seeking asylum from violence in their home countries. The Department of Homeland Security has locked up thousands of mothers and children who escaped brutal violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Many have been jailed for months. They have committed no crime – it is legal to seek asylum here. They must make their case in court; those who cannot show legal grounds for asylum will not be able to stay. But in the past, the practice has been to release asylum-seekers to family members or social service agencies in the U.S. It is well within the discretion of the federal government to return to that practice. We’ll be writing more about the shame of family detention soon.

The wrong people are in jail.

Head Smacker
immigration reform