hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Friday, June 14, 2002
Earlier this year all the media talking heads went
into spasms of outrage over Clinton's Marc Rich
pardon, how disgusting it was, and how it proved that
Clinton was indeed a Very Bad Man.

Well, read these two articles, and then tell me
whether or not these two scandals outweigh Marc Rich
by several (hundred) orders of magnitude?

"One of the Bush administration’s first moves, as
noted here at the time, was to rein back – but not
entirely squelch – the Clinton administration’s
efforts to crack down on off-shore tax havens.  Now
Treasury Secretary O’Neill has cut a deal with one of
the most notorious tax havens of them all, the Cayman
Islands.  The deal gives tax cheats just 25 months to
move their assets elsewhere before the IRS swoops
in. And the deal apparently assures that any trail of
wrongdoing prior to 2004 will be permanently sealed
from view, so no one’s likely to get into too much
trouble for whatever they’ve done thus far in the
Caymans.  . ."

"The 25-month delay gives tax cheats ample time to
more their money to another tax haven, said Jack Blum,
a Washington lawyer who specializes in financial
frauds.  “They have written this in a way so that the
people who have been violating the law can get
themselves out from under the mess by moving to
another jurisdiction where there is no agreement,” Mr.
Blum said.  “This is simply astonishing"

"Harvey Pitt is not a household name. Until recently,
the only people who regularly came across him were
those in scrapes with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC). For such individuals, however, Pitt
was the man to see. He was considered the sharpest
securities lawyer in the country, and while not
everybody could afford his fees, those who could were
generally pleased with the results. When the SEC
charged Ivan Boesky with insider trading, he hired
Pitt, who engineered a lighter-then-expected sentence.
Over the decades, Pitt built an impressive roster of
similarly well-heeled clients who stood accused by the
SEC of securities fraud, misstating their finances,
other pecuniary offenses. And he has put his
persuasive talents to work not just for individuals
but for large economic interests who do business with
the SEC--on whose behalf he has prowled the corridors
of Washington as a super-lobbyist. Most of the time,
Pitt fought the SEC to a draw, or better.

But in August, Pitt entered a new line of work. The
bad news for those having difficulties with the SEC is
that they can no longer hire Pitt to defend their
interests. The good news--and, taking all things into
account, it vastly outweighs the bad--is that Pitt is
now chairman of the SEC. Pitt, in other words, heads
the agency charged with rooting out financial
crime--which is roughly the equivalent of making
Johnnie Cochran head of the FBI"

". . .Pitt has already replaced the top staff of the
agency's critical corporate-finance division--an
unusual move at the SEC, where the previous two
chairmen left the staffs they inherited in place--and
installed people who, like him, have a background
representing the industries the SEC regulates. In
October the Commission instituted an amnesty policy,
whereby firms accused of violations could turn
themselves in and receive little or no punishment. "I
think that there have been instances where what the
agency has done is focus more on an after-the-fact
casting of blame and aspersion than in figuring out
how to protect investors," he told the Post. "We
aren't going to play gotcha." Imagine if other law
enforcement agencies took this view"

"Swallowing camels and straining at gnats" I think
it's called.

I know it's not of the magnitude of the War on
Terrorism, just several hundred billion dollars, but
still. . .they shouldn't be able to get away with
this, should they?