Review: Frontline’s “The Untouchables”

After hearing a substantial amount of recommendations for Frontline’s “The Untouchables,” my husband and I came away last night with one reaction: Outrageous.

Granted, this is a common sentiment we illicit whenever absorbing details of the cause of the 2008 economic collapse. Now, 4.5 years later, we’re responding to the Justice Department’s complete impotence in their duty to hold wrongdoers accountable.

PBS, though, the bastion of public information delivery, was on it. “The Untouchables” presents an investigation regarding the lack of prosecutions of Wall Street executives in the wake of the economic collapse. Most viewers, I’m certain, come away with the overwhelming sense that the Justice Department has dropped the ball.

A number of interviewees, including former Senator Ted Kaufman, who was a placeholder for Vice President Joe Biden until the 2010 midterm elections, give the impression that it was not only possible to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt on the part of numerous Wall Street executives, but that these indictments should have gone forward.

The theory is posited that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who announced his upcoming departure from the Justice Department soon after the airing of the program, was simply fearful of taking any case to trial and losing, as well as doing damage to the economy.

The documentary also backs up one of my takeaways from Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind (I’ll have a review of the book in an upcoming blog). President Obama, who enjoyed vast support among Wall Street during his first campaign for president, wanted to unite the country and not engage in a legal blow-torching of the banking and investment sector the way most of us wanted. Secondly, the Obama economic team experienced great dissent, but one of the prevailing assumptionswas that the economy was weak and dependent on Wall Street and no policy should be done that would undermine confidence or hurt the banks further.

And so, there appears to have been placed a teflon shield around many of those involved in the rampant fraud and abuse that allowed Wall Street to concentrate much U.S. wealth to the upper economic echelons, decimate the middle class, and bring the global economy to the brink of utter destruction.

Should we all shut up and simply say thank you as the Dow has enjoyed considerable growth and the U.S. has avoided the dreaded “double-dip” recession? Absolutely not.

The wealth of the average U.S. household has declined significantly. The wealth gap has grown, which helps our economy continue on shaky ground. Millions of people worldwide have suffered tremendous harm to their livelihoods and the lives of their family due to the gross negligence of these financiers.

That these people should enjoy their high life and freedom after bringing the financial system to its knees is beyond credulity and illustrates the gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration and Congress. The Dodd-Frank legislation is small consolation considering the deregulation that led to this collapse has never been rectified. The U.S. is ill-protected from another dramatic financial down cycle – the likes of which will, again, wreak havoc on the lives of those lower on the economic totem pole.

The lack of oversight on Wall Street has simply pushed this country closer toward plutocracy and the government has participated almost to the point of criminal collusion. LIke someone hinted in “The Untouchables,” we need regulators for the regulators.

Shame on the whole lot of them.

Gettin There!

I’m a mom with an infant, so you know what that means. I have no time. Ergo, this might take me a little while. Patience, jackass, patience.