They have their own code of laws.
After pointing out that the root of the word “privilege” is the French for “private law,” Noah Smith bemoans the system of private law for the rich and white that he sees evolving in the United States. He supports his case with many examples. Here’s one (emphasis added):
In 2010, Martin Erzinger, a private-wealth manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, was the driver in a hit-and-run of a bicyclist in Eagle, Colrado. The victim suffered spinal injuries and brain bleeding. But the prosecutor dropped felony charges against Erzinger, giving the following justification:
“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into it,” [prosecutor] Mark Hurlbert said. “When you’re talking about restitution, you don’t want to take away his ability to pay.
So a rich guy got a lighter sentence because a heavier sentence would prevent him from being rich. Obviously, this get-out-of-jail-free card isn’t available to someone from the middle class, even if he or she is white.
Smith’s mistake is thinking that there is anything new about the rich having private law, though the privilege of the privileged does seem to be increasing. As recently as the Savings and Loan scandal of thirty years ago, banksters went to jail for stiffing their customers; today they get bonuses.
Follow the link for the rest of Smith’s examples.
Corporate America, where punishment is just another deductible expense
As Bank of America prepares for a possible multibillion-dollar settlement with the government, the deal is expected to share a feature common to similar settlements with other banks – a big portion that’s tax-deductible as a business expense.
In similar deals recently struck by the Justice Department with large U.S. banks, portions of the overall settlement amounts were designated as penalties, which banks aren’t allowed to write off.
But by law, banks can write off portions of their settlements that aren’t considered fines or penalties, such as payments to states affected by their alleged misconduct.
That means billions of dollars in Bank of America’s expected settlement could be tax-deductible.
President Obama’s recent action to prevent federal contractors from forbidding employees to discuss their compensation leads Michael Carroll down a memory hole:
It reminded me of one of my first jobs where the boss, Big Al — about 300-odd-pounds big — warned employees: “If you discuss your salary with others, you don’t respect your salary.”
He had a point. I did talk to my co-workers about my salary, and it was so low that I did not have all that much respect for it. Al was coming from a different place. He did not want discussion because dissension might flow from comparing paychecks. Employees might learn that there were often big differences in salaries of people doing the same job with the same skills and experience. Discussion might reveal disparities based less on performance and more on race, gender, who was sleeping with the boss and other things best left unspoken. This might generate more discussion and even less respect for our salaries.
More memories at the link.
So much for deregulating airlines to promote “competition.”
There is one thing corporations have in common with the rest of us. They don’t like to pay taxes. Fortunately, they rarely have to.
Video below the fold in case it autoplays.
Another bank blanked. Bank no more on
It is kaput, defunct, all gone.
In a longer post about Tim Draper’s plan to separate California into six states (George Smith delivers a scathing take-down of that exercise in narcissism at his place), Tom Hilton highlights the one of the (many) logical fallacies inherent in Libertarianism:
The whole thing is an object lesson in the poverty of libertarianism. Libertarians think governing is easy. They think it’s easy because they don’t really care about the details, and they don’t really care about the details because they think it’s easy. (And of course they think it’s easy because at heart they’re fundamentally anti-democratic, fetishizing the dictatorial rule of all-powerful CEOs as their model for governance.)
And because they think governing is easy, because they don’t care about the details, whenever by some hideous mischance one of them is given a position of responsibility, they invariably prove spectacularly inept at governing.
Another bank gets blanked. Bank no more on
Also, pigs, wings.
After a 16-year struggle, Nationwide gets adjudged to pay a $25,000 claim, plus $18,000,000 in punitive damages, described in the story as the largest punitive damages award against an insurance company for “bad faith” dealings in Pennsylvania history.
The judge in the case determined that Nationwide spent more than $3 million to defend a claim over a Jeep it could and should have replaced for $25,000.
He found that the Jeep remained unsafe even after repairs.
Rather than replace it, he said, Nationwide had engaged in an extensive cover-up, hiding crash photos and other relevant information from Berg and her husband.
He said Nationwide followed a written “litigation strategy” that called for it to fight smaller claims tenaciously – even though such a strategy had been denounced by Pennsylvania courts as “unethical and unprofessional.”
Follow the link for more, including delightful quotations from the judge’s ruling.