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Are Some People Above The Law?

American politicians (left to right) Senator Howard Baker of Tennesse, Senator Sam Irvin of North Carolina, Majority Council Sam Dash, Senator Herman E Talmadge of Georgia and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii listening to the testimony of James McCord, one of the Watergate burglers, during the Watergate hearings. (Photo by Gene Forte/Getty Images)

The history books are filled with the wealthy and influential who have managed to skirt the law and, in the eyes of many, go unpunished. Is there truly a double standard in our justice system? It’s often said it’s not what you know but whom you know. The closer you are to the top of the food chain the less likely you are to be held accountable for your actions and do hard time.

In 1992 Charles Keating, Jr. was sentenced to nine years in prison for bilking his Lincoln Savings and Loan investors. While Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed Keating did not. The conviction was later overturned and Keating is off the hook. He became a consultant and was involved in some successful real estate deals in Phoenix. I doubt his investors did as well.

Watergate

Charles Colson, H.R. Haldman, John Ehrlichman, John Dean, G. Gordon Liddy, Jeb Stuart Magruder, and others did jail time for conspiracy in a break in at the Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate building during the Nixon Administration. President Gerald Ford eventually pardoned Nixon after Nixon’s resignation. But what about the other small fish — what happened to them?

What’s life like after being disgraced on national TV? Why you get high level, big pay jobs, and write books of course.

Of those still living, John Dean became an investment banker, author and lecturer. Jeb Stuart Magruder found Jesus and became an ordained Presbyterian minister. In Columbus, Ohio he chaired the city’s Commission on Ethics and Values. And of course wrote a book on his Watergate experience. G. Gordon Liddy also wrote books, appeared in movies and got a nationally syndicated radio talk show.

I’m reminded of the song from the movie “Office Space,” “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.”

Wall Street

Are there any big name Wall Street fat cats going to jail? Not recently anyway. Subprime loans, robo-signings, worthless bond sales and the best our government can come up with are some slap on the wrist fines. To the average man on the street a multi-billion dollar fine seems like a lot. But what “Joe Sixpack” probably doesn’t know is that a slush fund was set up that is probably double the amount of fine.

JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and other big names on Wall Street have a revolving door of CEO’s much like baseball managers making the rounds. But no matter how inept they might be at their job, they always land on their feet without so much as a scuff on their $500 loafers.

Some Final Thoughts

Unfortunately these events are not uncommon. When you reach a certain level in the food chain it seems you are beyond the law. Former IRS division leader Lois Lerner has taken the “fifth” twice before Congress and is being threatened with contempt. Will she end up in jail? Highly doubtful.

It’s really frustrating for those of us who try to do the right thing, help others, pay taxes, and obey the law to see justice come up wanting when it comes to the rich and powerful. Is it any wonder we are becoming a nation of doubters? Watching our once great nation on a downhill slide at the hands of a few backroom moneychangers. Monetary fines are replacing jail time accountability. Yet we sit idly  by watching this activity continue. NO accountability equals NO justice. What changes would you make? Who would you send up the river?

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