Thursday, June 22, 2017

An evergreen quote

This is Joseph.

I juts ran across this quote by Matt Yglesias while reading another article:
But it is entirely emblematic of America’s post-Reagan treatment of business regulation. What a wealthy and powerful person faced with a legal impediment to moneymaking is supposed to do is work with a lawyer to devise clever means of subverting the purpose of the law. If you end up getting caught, the attempted subversion will be construed as a mitigating (it’s a gray area!) rather than aggravating factor. Your punishment will probably be light and will certainly not involve anything more than money. You already have plenty of money, and your plan is to get even more. So why not?
And if  you think that this isn't the case, consider Wells Fargo:
These payouts are on top of the $3.2 million Wells Fargo has paid to customers over 130,000 accounts over potentially unauthorized accounts. That works out to a refund of roughly $25 per account.
Now any one case can be pretty nuanced.  Maybe this settlement is fine.  But does this really look like the sort of penalty that would really discourage any sort of future wrong doing?

There are several reasons to punish bad behavior in a white collar context -- mostly to make it possible to have a fair and free market.  But the punishments need to be at least severe enough that bad actions are discouraged.  Responsibility should not be only for the powerless and the middle class.  I am all for being compassionate about mistakes, but I would like to see compassion across the spectrum, and not isolated to large corporate actors.

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