Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CEOs Buying Their Way Out Of Jail

David Cay Johnston reports on GM executives' ability to buy their freedom with corporate funds.

It should be illegal to barter cash for an executive's free ride. It's like permanent bail offered to criminals with infinite cash.

How is bartering company cash to avoid executive jail time not unlike bribing officials?

How is an executive in such a leverage position not essentially bargaining with employees or the wider economy as a hostage?

I realize the complexities of the case and the odds of a conviction play into these bargains, but the amount of money a CEO has to bargain with distorts the justice system and enables the distortion of the economy.

Another example of the Rule of Accumulated Advantage.

At the other end of the justice system, the low end where people have very little money, justice is distorted by the mechanisms prosecutors use to extort fines and penalties. In an inverse fashion, the leverage of money works against the person charged. At the low end of the economy lack of money leverages a person’s other disadvantages.

There should be an algorithm to calculate how money buys freedom at the high end of the wealth spectrum and how lack of money is used against defendants at the low end. There is a key difference between how it works. At the upper end these CEOs buy freedom with their company's money; at the low end the people prosecuted for the various crimes associated with being poor are invariably paying their fines and bail bonds by mortgaging all they have.

This is not a new phenomenon. During the Middle Ages the extortion racket was conducted by the Church. It was the selling of indulgences and got people shorter terms in Purgatory.

This disparity between rich man's justice and poor man's justice does make you wonder. Do CEOs and others in the so-called "leadership class" (those who own for a living), do they possess sovereign status? Are they immune from the laws and hazards that govern the rest of us? Are they above the law? Does Might, after all, make you Right? This was a belief that democracy was supposed to make obsolete, but our society has delegated so many moral decisions to our money. We've let our money take the place of our conscience, and our courts of law and our politics have been corrupted by this.

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