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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: Bring back the pillory

Bring back the pillory

One day I will open the door to my bathroom and find a pink wolf there, taking a lavender bubble bath in my tub. And I'll be fine. After reading newspapers for the past 3 years, nothing can surprise me any more.

Just last week, Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of the fallen mortgage giant Countrywide, managed to avoid civil fraud and insider trading charges by magnanimously agreeing to a $67M settlement with SEC - of which large chunk will apparently be paid by the Bank of America (which acquired Countrywide in 2008).

So let's see how it works: in his last 5 years, Mozilo made about $450M while engaging in rather dubious if not outright predatory business practices. For comparison - when say Toyota messes up their carburetors, they have to recall all of them, but when Countrywide messes up their mortgages, the CEO gets rewarded and investors (or taxpayers) are the ones who carry the losses from faulty products. During the S&L crisis two decades ago, Bill Black meted out thousands of indictments for white collar crimes and the clanking of handcuffs was heard all over the lower Manhattan. Now we give the perps a slap on the wrist in the form of a laughable fine and that's it. How about clawing back all ill gotten gains and then imposing the fine on top of that? Seriously. How is an ordinary citizen expected to obey the law in the face of such mockery?

It feels pretty sobering, when you run across older newspapers and find articles singing accolades to the bold captains of a new, sizzling hot industry - the subprime mortgage lending. You would think they are up there with Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. And yet - few years down the road - those same idols are suddenly defrocked and unmasked as mere schmucks with expensive bow ties. What kind of message it is sending to our kids is not hard to imagine. Will the future business leaders follow the new entrepreneurial equation?

FF - FF = FF

(financial fraud - funny fee = fat fortune)

I have an idea: why don't we bring back the pillory!

Imagine the jolt we'd give to a tourism industry in New York, if all the upper management of investment banks caught in crooked and shady deals had to serve a couple of days locked up between two wooden logs strategically situated on the Times Square. What innocent bystander would not want to throw a rotten agricultural product their way or at least proffer a heart felt verbal admonition spiked with blinding profanity.

This should be better than reality TV. And on a weekend, we could throw in a stylish tar and feather show, just for a good measure. Poetic justice at its best. Wanted TARP? Sorry buddy, but here is a tarpaulin tuxedo for ya.

Hey - that sounds like an actionable idea.

Paging Eric Holder... Helloooo?


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