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It’s accountability time for banks and Wall Street

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The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel writing in the Washington Post:

This is as clear a picture of 2011 America as it is an ugly one — a system that works for the wealthy, the powerful and the connected but no one else. And while some of these events took place several years ago, not nearly enough has changed since.

And so we need a serious effort. We need not just to set tougher rules for Wall Street (something the Dodd-Frank bill only went part way in doing) but to make sure those who patrol that particular street take their jobs seriously. Those responsible for the economic mess will never be held accountable if we continue to define accountability as agreeing to pathetically small fines or paying back low-interest loans on time. Accountability should mean harsher penalties, including jail time, and a greater obligation to make the injured whole again.

Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent movement erupted because Americans had the gut sense that financial institutions got off easy; now we know that gut sense was right. Justice has not been done, but it must be, before the next crisis — not just to prevent more turmoil but to prove to ordinary people that the government still works for them.

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