I miss Heath Ledger.
When he transformed into The Joker for the motion picture The Dark Knight
, he recreated an old character in a most compelling way. For my money, he’s the only reason to see that film. But you should see it, if for no other reason than to think about the U.S. financial services industry when he delivers the line: “This town deserves a better class of criminal.”
And we do. I know this because that’s the bait the government is now using to distract us from the woes of everyday life. They’re offering us front row seats in the search for financial services evil-doers. To get your ticket, surf over to the new website for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
That’s right. We have a bipartisan commission that has been given “a critical non-partisan mission — to examine the causes of the financial crisis that has gripped the country and to report our findings to the Congress, the President, and the American people.” Critical - it says so on the website.
The FCIC has begun its hunt in earnest, starting with its first public hearing on January 13
. It’s already heard from the usual suspects, including representatives from most of the major banks and Wall Street firms. In fact, the only major players that haven’t appeared yet are anyone connected with the U.S. Treasury Department
or the Federal Reserve
That could be because Fed Chairman Bernanke spoke to the American Economic Association
on Jan. 3, assuring us that easy monetary policy during 2002-2005 wasn’t part of the problem. Okay, then.
My feeling is—and without appearing to be an apologist, I hope—that the vast majority of people working in the financial services industry during that time were doing their jobs, fulfilling a government mandate to get people into homes they owned. We’ll have to see what the witch hunters conclude.
The FCIC has this to say about its mission: “Hopefully, the Commission's work can help rebuild the American people's belief in a financial system that puts Americans to work, fulfills their goals and provides the foundation for a new era of broadly shared prosperity.”
And maybe that’s all we really need. Maybe knowing who played a part in the meltdown really will instill faith in our financial system…but probably not. Last I heard, we were responsible for fulfilling our own goals. And wouldn’t it be better for our government to take a break from all the finger-pointing just until we actually put some more Americans to work so we can tax them and start sharing their prosperity?
Of one thing I’m fairly certain. When it all comes to light, we’ll all be very disappointed. We’ll be sorry that common greed, a government driven by special interests and a total failure to uphold a mandate for responsible oversight led us to this point.
A fiasco like this really does cry out for a better class of criminal.