Columns » Hightower

Wall Street scolding won't stop the greed




President Obama marched boldly up to Wall Street and scolded those narcissistic banksters who crashed our economy and looted our public treasury. And what did those banksters do in response?

They applauded!

Were they acknowledging their naughtiness and promising to play nice? Of course not! Theirs was the applause of relief, for the president of the United States — who really could punish these thieves and rein them in — had merely chastised them.

Can you imagine how Wall Street bankers respond to being scolded? Right, they shrug and go right back to their profiteering.

Obama declared that his proposed financial reforms are "in the best interest of the financial sector." Honchos of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and the other giants broke out in big grins at this, because they knew it meant that Obama was merely going to "regulate" excess, not restructure the financial oligopolies that inevitably produce the excesses.

Bankers hire scads of lawyers and lobbyists so they can easily slip out of regulations, but restructuring actually limits the harm they can do to us.

Not that Obama's regulatory steps are bad — most are obviously needed and long overdue. But the reform that really matters is to cut these behemoths down to size.

Banks should not also be in the casino gambling business, houses of global speculation should not be in insurance, and insurance giants should not be tied to banks.

More fundamentally, financial outfits that are too big to fail are too big. Period. They should be broken up so they don't threaten our economy, and their assets should be decentralized into community banks, credit unions and other lending institutions that actually serve our economy.

To do more than scold Wall Street, join the grassroots campaign of Americans for Financial Reform at

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