RSN: Will the Peasants Go Medieval on Bankers?

Readers Supported News: By Washington’s Blog

While everyone from Tony Blair to Nouriel Roubini is debating whether or not bankers should be hanged, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg provide some fascinating historical context.
Dark subjects: A Red Saunders creation. This picture is called Wat Tyler and the Peasant’s Revolt, 1381. 

In 2008, American homeowners would have been satisfied with a decent modification. Four years later, after the modification scams, flim-flam run-arounds, fraudulent assignments, purposely inflated mortgages, lost jobs, lost pension and retirement funds, Libor scandals proving that mortgages were defective loan products, loss of privacy information that, like Humpty Dumpty, will never be recovered – homeowners want their loans declared void, the banksters and their complicit employees to go to jail.

Around the world there is a great debate asking ‘where are the indictments’ and ‘what is an appropriate sentence’ for the financial devastation that was caused by the Wall Street banksters and their pals in other countries. Iran wasted no time in sentencing 4 bankers to death by hanging for just a billion-dollar bank fraud. Think what they’d do to Jamie Dimon, Ken Lewis, Sandy Weill, Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, Rubin, Corzine, and Blankfein etc. for their “TRILLION$” in deceptive business practices, fraud, money laundering and Libor scandals!

DUBAI, July 30 (Reuters), reports The Daily Bail – “An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for a billion-dollar bankfraud that tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state media reported on Monday.

Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring inflation, were shocked by the scale of the $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement that was exposed last year and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite or with their assent.

Of the thirty-nine people tried for the fraud – the biggest in the Islamic Republic’s history – four were sentenced to hang, the IRNA state news agency reported.

“According to the sentence that was issued, four of the defendants in this case were sentenced to death,” prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told IRNA.

Two people were sentenced to life and others received jail sentences of up to 25 years, Mohseni-Ejei said. In addition to jail time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines and banned from government jobs.”  Continue reading…

Iran is not the only country that takes financial crimes seriously.  According to China’s criminal law, someone convicted of financial fraud involving a large sum can face capital punishment.

From Wiki:  China has executed bankers for fraudulent activity:

  • Wang Liming, former accounting officer, China Construction Bank, Henan, with others stole 20 million yuan ($2.4 million in U.S. Currency) from the bank using fraudulent papers, executed.
  • Miao Ping, an accomplice in the same case, executed.
  • Wang Xiang, same bank in an unrelated case, also executed for taking 20 million yuan from the bank.
  • Liang Shihan, Bank of China, Zhuhai, executed for helping cheat his bank out of $10.3 million US.

“Should Corrupt Bankers Face the Death Penalty?” writes Azizonomics on zerohedge.com

“Let’s be clear: financial misdeeds ruin lives. If a Madoff takes your money and uses it to pay off other investors in a ponzi scheme, you won’t be able to get it back. If a Blankfein underling issues you with misleading advice, and then bets against you (creaming himself a nice profit), you won’t be able to get it back. If a Corzine steals your money and uses it to bet on the European sovereign debt market, you might not be able to get it back. You might end up in poverty or worse. You might lose your children’s college money, your retirement money, or capital you needed for your business. You might lose your home.

So shouldn’t we take a tough line against financial misdeeds? Shouldn’t tricking and stealing from investors, tricking and stealing from the public, tricking and stealing from clients carry a heavy disincentive, like death? Would a corrupt banker not think twice about their misdeeds if they knew that apprehension would mean a noose around their neck and a kicked bucket?”

Is there any doubt why Sandy Weill wanted to be the first to suggest it’s time to break up the “too big to fail” banks?  Guilty Dogs Always Bark First…

It’s just surprising that more politicians didn’t jump on his bandwagon when they had the chance. Silence is golden (they think). International traveling for Wall Street bankers is probably not advisable these days.

On RSN’s feature: The journal’s Jason Zweig reports:

Financial criminals throughout history have been beaten, tortured and even put to death, with little evidence that severe punishments have consistently deterred people from misconduct that could make them rich.

The history of drastic punishment for financial crimes may be nearly as old as wealth itself.

The Code of Hammurabi, more than 3,700 years ago, stipulated that any Mesopotamian who violated the terms of a financial contract – including the futures contracts that were commonly used in commodities trading in Babylon – “shall be put to death as a thief.” The severe penalty doesn’t seem to have eradicated such cheating, however.

In medieval Catalonia, a banker who went bust wasn’t merely humiliated by town criers who declaimed his failure in public squares throughout the land; he had to live on nothing but bread and water until he paid off his depositors in full. If, after a year, he was unable to repay, he would be executed – as in the case of banker Francesch Castello, who was beheaded in 1360.

Bankers who lied about their books could also be subject to the death penalty. 

In Florence during the Renaissance, the Arte del Cambio – the guild of mercantile money-changers who facilitated the city’s international trade – made the the cheating of clients punishable by torture. Rule 70 of the guild’s statutes stipulated that any member caught in unethical conduct could be disciplined on the rack “or other corrective instruments” at the headquarters of the guild.

But financial crimes weren’t merely punished; they were stigmatized. Dante’s Inferno is populated largely with financial sinners, each category with its own distinctive punishment:misers who roll giant weights pointlessly back and forth with their chests, thieves festooned with snakes and lizards, usurers draped with purses they can’t reach, even forecasterswhose heads are wrenched around backward to symbolize their inability to see what is in front of them.

Counterfeiting and forgery, as the historian Marvin Becker noted in 1976, “were much less prevalent in Florence during the second half of the fourteenth century than in Tuscany during the twentieth century” and “the bankruptcy rate stood at approximately one-half [the modern rate].”

In England, counterfeiting was punishable by death starting in the 14th century, and altering the coinage was declared a form of high treason by 1562.

In the 17th century, the British state cracked down ferociously on counterfeiters and “coin-clippers” (who snipped shards of metal off coins, yielding scraps they could later melt down or resell). The offenders were thrown into London’s notorious Newgate prison.

The lucky ones, after being dragged on planks through sewage-filled streets, were hanged. Others were smeared with tar from head to toe, tied or shackled to a stake, and then burned to death.

The British government was so determined to stamp out these financial crimes that it put Sir Isaac Newton on the case. Appointed as warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, Newton promptly began uncovering those who violated the financial laws of the nation with the same passion he brought to discovering the physical laws of the universe.

The great scientist was tireless and merciless. Newton went undercover, donning disguises to prowl through prisons, taverns and other dens of iniquity in search of financial fraud. He had suspects brought to the Mint, often by force, and interrogated them himself. In a year and a half, says historian Carl Wennerlind, Newton grilled 200 suspects, “employing means that sometimes bordered on torture.”

When one counterfeiter begged Newton to save him from the gallows – “O dear Sir no body can save me but you O God my God I shall be murderd unless you save me O I hope God will move your heart with mercy and pitty to do this thing for me” – Newton coldly refused.

The counterfeiter was hanged two weeks later.

Until at least the early 19th century, it remained commonplace for counterfeiters and forgers to be put to death; between 1792 and 1829, for example, notes Wennerlind, 618 people were convicted of counterfeiting British paper currency, and most of them were hanged. Many were women.

Bloomberg provides details of one “peasant revolt” stemming from a Libor-like currency manipulation scheme:

During the “Good Parliament” of 1376, public discontent over [manipulation of currency exchange rates similar to the current Libor scandal] came to a head. The Commons, represented by the speaker, Peter de la Mare, accused leading members of the royal court of abusing their position to profit from public funds.

A particular target was the London financier Richard Lyons ….

Initially the government bowed to public pressure. Lyons was imprisoned in the Tower of London and his properties and wealth were confiscated. Other leading courtiers implicated in these abuses, such as Latimer and the king’s mistress, Alice Perrers, were banished from court.

Once parliament had dissolved and the public outcry had died down, however, the king’s eldest son, John of Gaunt, acted to reverse the verdicts of the Good Parliament. Latimer and Perrers soon reappeared at the king’s side and Lyons was released from the Tower and recovered his wealth, while the “whistleblower” de la Mare was thrown in jail. The government also sought to appease the wealthy knights and merchants that dominated parliament by imposing a new, regressive form of taxation, a poll tax paid by everyone rather than a tax levied on goods. This effectively passed the burden of royal finance down to the peasantry.

It seemed as though everything had returned to business as normal and Lyons appeared to have gotten away with it.

In 1381, however, simmering discontent over continuing suspicions of government corruption and the poll tax contributed to a massive popular uprising, the Peasants’ Revolt, during which leading government ministers, including Simon of Sudbury (the chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury) and Robert Hales (the treasurer) were executed by the rebels. This time, Lyons did not escape; he was singled out, dragged from his house and beheaded in the street.

If the King had followed the rule of law – and kept Lyons and the boys in jail – everything would have calmed down. The monarchy – just like the present-day government – chose to ignore the rule of law, and protect the thieves and punish the whistleblowers.

We have argued for years that the best way to avoid violence is to reinstate the rule of law.

The Bloomberg article – written by a professor of the history of finance and a professor of finance at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School, University of Reading – ends on a similar note:

The question now is whether public outrage at the Libor scandal and other financial misdeeds [like these] will lead to fundamental reforms of the financial sector – such as the separation of retail and investment banking or legislation to regulate the “bonus culture” – or just more cosmetic changes that fail to address the structural issues.

Will we have to wait for a 21st century peasants’ revolt before seeing any real change?

The Daily Bail:  Hang the bankers… ?
“Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, Rubin, Corzine, Dimon and Blankfein are safe for now, but perhaps if we moved Wall Street to downtown Tehran.We have an entire class of people and financial corporations who do little more than use their money (via lobbying) and power to extract (e.g., legally steal) billions of dollars from both taxpayers and shareholders, and they are heralded as ‘job creators’ and ‘captains of industry.’  When caught doing something that is actually illegal (Libor manipulation, for example), they blame rogue traders and call upon political connections with Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer via the Covington & Burling infested Department of Justice.

Scoundrels, every last one of them.

Meanwhile, those who steal from grocery stores generally go to jail.

It is not fair.  It is not just.  It is not right.  And it is why, according to a new Gallup Poll, ‘Reducing Corruption in Government’ has become the second most important issue to American voters, with a whopping 87% of all votes.”

All in all – a little interesting history, yeah?

SIGN THE PETITION

7 thoughts on “RSN: Will the Peasants Go Medieval on Bankers?

  1. How we can go from this endless griping to a proactive popular demand for reformation of our government.
    Albert Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Our American political and justice system was founded as system of ethical values established to provide liberty and justice to all. Transformation from a fear-based culture that defines happiness success and well-being as exclusively derived from accumulation of material wealth is essential to end the status quo stranglehold that only serves the goals and interests of the corporatocracy that exist at the expense of everything and everyone else. The social mind-set of endless aggression is solicited by corporate controlled media, inspired by fear, and continually urges Americans to relentlessly pursue wealth and take all possible advantage over others. This mind set vastly contributes to our worsening global environmental and economic crises. Any political or social model or paradigm that prioritizes money, profit and material things over serving peoples’ needs and giving back to our planet is bound to contribute to and accelerate rather than resolve our worsening crises. In order to resolve the global environmental and economic crisis and create a healthy future for this planet and its people; society as a whole must embrace a radical transformation of values and take a mass conscious step toward a humanitarian and sustainable political system as the only acceptable social paradigm.

    Only a critically essential change in values can lead the human species into a new more successful method for us to fulfill our creative potential to preserve our beautiful world for future children of all nations. We can’t transform the crises by allowing our governments to instruct us that the needs of corporations must be held above the basic needs and rights of individuals or by simply by recycling and buying and selling “green products.”

    The required new paradigm must involve radicle a change to our current paradigm of aggressive focus on world political domination and control of natural resources and restructuring of our current commercial-material approach to achieving happiness and well-being.

    This writer urges all free thinking Americans to take effective action against the increasing erosion of our constitutional government by the clear agenda of a corrupt and self-serving “corporatocracy” who serves its own interests at the expense of everything and everyone else. In order to eliminate or reduce the power of “corporatocracy” to control our government dedicated and concerned activists must urgently institute wide-spread grassroots activism and encourage deprogramming techniques designed to systematically and progressively counter-act and nullify more almost one hundred years of corporate controlled media. Propaganda that has massively influenced the average American consumer into knee-jerk fear based thinking and ensured an endless drive to accumulate wealth and acquire redundant commercial goods.

    Grassroots activism consists of raising Community Awareness and Community Consciousness and may take the form of Community Discussion Groups held in conjunction with the core workshops. This function can easily be picked up by any local and concerned organizations that have available space, even on a part-time basis. In addition to regular meeting, workshop and discussion groups, Grassroots Activists can gather and join forces to determine and design local political actions. These activities will progressively extend the concept of transformation from one of endless griping or political idealism to a proactive popular demand for reformation of our government.

    Article by Catherine Bryan Ibarra; email me at sdsympoisum@yahoo.com. Also see related websites at: http://communiversitymagazine.org/ ; http://communiversity.groupsite.com

  2. NOBODY WILL LISTEN TO REQUESTS. We need physical interaction to correct this shit. It worked in Iceland. Their unemployment rate holds steady at 6%. Iceland has paid off all it’s loans – early. How? They let those banks that fucked the economy die.

    This didn’t come overnight: it took violent rioting to get the then-government kicked out and the current one in place.

    Should we hang the bankers that screwed up our economy? I say, hanging is too good for them. [Edited by Publisher]

    • Sometimes it’s harder to remain in the light – and fighting evil with more violence is not always the answer. We have laws in place and we need to follow the Rule of Law. Those that do not follow the Rule of Law need to be replaced and or disbarred, including banksters, politicians, Judges, and lawyers. No cushy pensions, no golden parachutes – stripped with a dishonorable discharge. And this means that insider trading and Judges with bank stocks are off the bench if they preside over cases where there is even a hint of impropriety.

      We need to make it clear that there is no tolerance for imbalance.

  3. I guess the lesson is don’t steal a loaf of bread ;, steal billions The Judicial System knows what to do with the petty thief . That sane system doesnt know what to do with educated men from fancy colleges and universities who have corner offices in high rise
    Buildings. Why? You tell me,because my answer is too frightening to accept.

  4. Pingback: REMIC Armageddon on the Horizon? | Deadly Clear

  5. Pingback: Paul Krugman Propaganda Fully Exposed and Debunked | Deadly Clear

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s