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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673

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‘Bankers are financing the destruction of the earth’

By Robin Lehman

I had a little chuckle at Win Smith's essay plugging his new book. But really Mr. Smith, bankers have been venal and shortsighted for so long it's hard to take you seriously.

Bankers pushed for deregulating banks when, historically speaking, regulations had proven themselves effective in curbing the most egregious and self-serving financial transactions so that those institutions' mistakes wouldn't take the whole economy down. Then when bankers' money bought our legislators' votes and banks got deregulation, sure enough, surprise of all surprises, bankers crashed the economy. And now Mr. Smith says it was just some selfish rogues? Who is forgetting all the capitalist dogma of selfishness?

"It's a dog eat dog world out there." Or how about this one, "Winning isn't the best thing, it's the only thing." These "rogues" were doing just what they'd been taught, being ruthless and cunning.

HSBC gets caught money-laundering for drug cartels and gets no prosecution. Jamie Dimon and his cohort get caught manipulating the Whale and absolutely nothing happens to them. He loses $8 billion to $12 billion and keeps his job. Your new parent company, B of A, is paying millions in fines for illegal home loans. These aren't a few rogues, this is the norm now.

And most importantly, Mr. Smith, you're forgetting what bankers did to us morally and ecologically. Bankers are the ones who are financing the destruction of the earth because of these shortsighted immoral money loaning standards. Your opinion piece said nothing about how those deals affect the lives of poor people or any obligation other than to the stockholders.

It's not wealth or even inherited wealth that aggravates me. It's the fact that bankers are so selfish and narrow minded that they can't even see what they owe to the rest of us. They keep pressing for more and more deregulation even though it has destroyed our economy. You can't even see that a decent minimum wage, say a measly $15 per hour, would pump up our economy. (A typical McDonald's worker in Australia earns $17.50 and a burger is only 40 cents more expensive. This doesn't even include the mandatory 14 days paid sick leave.) So it's not that I despise your wealth as much as I despise your willful ignorance of common decency and enlightened self-interest.

I think it was Allan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve Bank, who said he just couldn't believe that bankers would act in such a way against their own best interests. The rest of us knew but could do nothing because bankers bought our legislators.

Robin Lehman lives in Warren.


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