A banker's plaintive plea

Monday, September 17, 2012   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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At last, someone has stood up for America's downtrodden. I mean, of course, the downtrodden Wall Street banks.

This defender of fat cat bankers moans that public anger at the behemoths is "unprecedented." He wails that poor Wall Streeters, publicly assailed as "greedy," are having to fend off "the misguided idea that we should break up the nations largest banks." And who is this champion of the goliaths? William Harrison, the guy who engineered the mergers that created the JPMorgan Chase goliath and became fabulously rich as the conglomerate's CEO, before retiring in 2006.

But Harrison sprang out of retirement this August to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times, pleading for public appreciation of bank gigantism. He called the consolidation of financial businesses a natural, market-driven evolution toward efficiency, citing Starbucks and big box retailers like Walmart as models. Bad examples, Bill – both are relentless predators that profit by devouring the economic vitality of local businesses, employees, suppliers, and whole communities as they stamp their sterile brand of uniformity across the land. Then, the poor guy tumbled head-first into credibility gulch with a patently preposterous claim that Wall Street does not have "inordinate influence... on the political process" – nor he added, does it get "huge, implicit subsidies from the government."

As for his cry that today's public anger at too-big-to-fail banks is "unprecedented," Harrison needs a remedial course in American history. Avaricious bankers have always been despised – my own state's first Constitution even outlawed banks! Of course, people are angry today – the very banks he's defending (including his) are lawless entities that admit to rigging interest rates, money laundering, fraud, and careless speculation. So, yes, bust 'em up!

"In Defense of Big Banks," The New York Times, August 23, 2012.

"No Crime, No Punishment," The New York Times, August 26, 2012.

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