It’s been said 90% of success is showing up. Going by that logic, the government is certainly on the right track. At last, Congress chose to grace us with their continued presence, deciding the increasingly impoverished American people shouldn’t keep paying taxes to empty chairs.
Pardon my lack of excitement that perhaps our most critical branch of government now simply exists. Though you’ve got to start somewhere, I suppose.
But let me give our government some praise that isn’t masked in snidely-laced sarcasm. This weekend we learned the Justice Department reached a settlement with JPMorgan Chase for $13 billion related to unscrupulous mortgage deals.
For those who may hold the implosion of our economy as a distant memory, those deals are essentially what caused it. JPMorgan is certainly not alone among the ruthlessly mendacious gang of Wall Street bullies, whose morality has been deemed useless by greed, but they are certainly at least near the front of the pack.
Since June 2010, JPMorgan has been fined 14 separate times, with the latest fine being by far the heftiest. The grand total of fines has now eclipsed $18.7 billion. I realize that in bank-talk that’s probably equivalent to scooping up all the change on their dresser, maybe even under their couch. But $13 billion is certainly a major upgrade from the other previous fines issued to JPMorgan, and even if it means Jamie Dimon now has to use $20’s instead of $50’s as toilet paper on his private jet, it’s a start.
To further comprehend the magnitude of their destruction, keep in mind this hit was a settlement, not a judgment. If Chase’s ultra-expensive lawyers recommended quitting while they were ahead at $13 billion, and taking into account our Justice Department’s incompetent track record of financial penalties, imagine the actual figure they are truly responsible for.
Then consider all the other banks whose pillaging was even close to being on the same scale, if not equal or greater. Suddenly, the harrowing economic state of our country, ubiquitously stained by Wall Street’s bloody fingerprints, makes a small bit of sense.
Since bulldozing the economy, the number of prosecutions and substantial fines handed down to Wall Street firms and executives have been trifling, if not absent. So despite their seemingly consistent underperformance, let’s give the government some much-needed credit for not only showing up, but for actually doing their jobs.
For America’s pending journey to recovery, however treacherous, must begin with a single step.