Categoryrule of law

One Man’s Blueprint For Social Justice For All

Recently, it was my privilege to read a brilliant collection of essays by Dr. Walter D. Greason, written in a clear crisp style for Everyman and collected into an e-book entitled The Engine Of Creation. During my 75 years, I cannot recall learning so much, and being exposed to so many thought-provoking ideas inside a book of only 98 pages, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in solutions to many of the problems plaguing our country today.

How, you ask, could such be accomplished in so short a space? Well, take a journey yourself, and you will see, and at no financial charge. For Professor Greason so desires to share his various proposals for social progress with you, that he makes his fascinating book available for free at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcX9mXEAIS (Greason youtube video on the book)

In the opening section entitled, Education, our generous author offers an essay exploring evangelical Christianity on football fields to the exclusion of other forms and other religions, then in the one that follows, offers an intriguing study of hip hop music, illustrating how, “as a whole, this body of music represents the evolution of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.”

Now, warmed up, he presents a discussion of individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, and the need for “intersectional analysis” to address various categories of rights such as gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, and religious rights in order to produce an inclusive society that benefits us all.

And finally, to round out this segment, Dr. Greason presents the reader with three essays connected to teaching. The first offers an analysis of who should be in charge of our educational system, how we measure and should measure success and failure, and stresses the need for innovation. The second illustrates how, through the educational process, young adults around the world are saving lives every day, as well as illustrating the importance of role models and their impact in helping young students build a sense of purpose and identity. Lastly, the spotlight is focused on “unique teaching,” offering keen insights into “responsive instruction,” how “experience remains the best teacher,” and the value of “critical reading.”

It should be noted that Education closes with the wise observation that “teachers who reinvent their classrooms in constant response to the widest range of students deserve celebrity status.” I found myself vigorously nodding my head up and down in agreement as I read the professor’s valuation of what teachers contribute to our society, and he couldn’t be more right than when he advocates that we need to “Take more time to publicly thank and honor them at their school, in the malls, and in your homes.”

The next section, entitled History, is equally stimulating. Opening with an essay illustrating how the media, aided by the digital revolution, bombards us with negative news daily, Dr. Greason demonstrates the urgent “need to tell the optimistic stories of how we survive, adapt, and succeed,” arguing that this need “has never been greater than right now.” To further illustrate this principle of the positive, the succeeding essay illustrates the invaluable contribution of W.E.B. DuBois, who survived, adapted, and succeeded against gigantic odds to teach us “that the right to learn was the most difficult achievement humanity had won in 5000 years of  struggle,” and how  to use that right to create justice and equality for all.

Next, the reader is presented with two essays that together provide a historical overview of how “advantage” was built into American society based on race, religion, and gender,  the development of racial segregation, and the federal, state, and private policies of Affirmative Action. Included are thought-provoking discussions about how “Merit is a lie,” and the need for new standards in economics, architecture and zoning, and urban transportation.

An eye-opening essay follows, about how “consolidation among suburban communities…will reduce municipal tax burdens and facilitate essential conversations about the common values everyone shares.” And the reader will find his or herself pondering an observation by civil rights leader, Ermon Jones, “that communities rely on each other, just as members of a family do,” and making a note to also read Dr. Greason’s book, Suburban Erasure to learn more about how consolidation can be used to increase prosperity and social justice for all.

Highly relevant to the 2016 Presidential election, in the next essay the professor traces the Conservatism of the 20th Century into the 21st, and illustrates how “the small government rhetoric of the 1970s cloaked the longstanding defense of inequality and segregation across the United States,” and why the Republican Party should revisit the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower and “speak as citizens committed to women’s equality, marriage equality, and immigrant equality.”

And speaking of immigrants, in a following essay that integrates the issue of immigration into a history of Black History Month, Dr. Greason traces “Free” and “white,” from our country’s origin down to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He then points out that “immigrants from Turkey, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and central Asia have formed new communities in the metropolitan United States over the last decade,” and poses the weighty question: “Are Muslims and Ukrainians the most recent ‘blacks’?” The Irish have successfully managed inclusion into American society, as have Jews and Catholics, “enlargements of whiteness” according to Nell Irwin Painter in her book, The History of White People, cited by Dr. Greason and leading him to a hopeful question for all of us to ponder: “Will the continuing efforts to liberate and uplift African American communities in the United States translate into unimaginable opportunities in these distant, diverse regions?”

Two other essays finalize this segment, complementing those that preceded them, and also serving to further establish a firm foundation for the section on politics that follows.

In the first, the author offers the reader a view of how “new bodies of evidence and new standards of debate” have challenged the central narrative about  American slavery, and provided “powerful new insights abut the nature of the American South and its enduring impact on the nation’s identity at the end of the twentieth century.” And to support this view, and introduce interested readers further, he refers to the works of highly regarded scholars such as Jacqueline Jones, Nell Painter, John Blassingame, Peter Kolchin, John Hope Franklin, and Walter Johnson.

And in the closing essay, authored in March, 2015, Dr. Gleason provides a lesson that America needs to remember: that “the enslavement of Africans in the Americas could not exist without the written authority of the Christian churches of Europe.” It is convenient to forget this, and much effort has been put forth to mask this sad relationship between Christianity and slavery. And it is not a relationship that can be excused as having existed in our distant past. As Dr. Gleason points out, beginning in 1928, Samuel Stouch, a leading voice in the tri-state area of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, “recruited Methodist ministers aggressively to attract hundreds of members to the (Ku Klux) Klan. By 1940, Stouch had created a home for Klan policy in local law enforcement and criminal justice. His ideas created the coalition that would become the foundation for Frank Rizzo’s popular approach to law and order during the era of civil rights activism in Philadelphia between 1956 and 1980.” And the relevance of this lesson will most certainly promote a better understanding of how the City of Ferguson, Missouri, was operating until the recent tragic shooting forced the beginnings of a turn-around.

Section Three, Politics, sprouts naturally from the strong roots established by Education and History. Opening this segment with an essay about long-term trends in economic growth and transformation of metropolitan areas, with emphasis on the potential of public-private partnerships, Dr. Greason then follows with a discussion devoted to the need for senior leadership. Here he focuses on the exciting potential that arises from the formation of partnerships across changing demographic groups, an advocates the need for and advantages of senior citizens (ages 65-85) joining hands with young adults (ages 15-35).

Then, the third essay, and what I feel is the core problem facing America today, Professor Greason begins by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s concern that “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profits and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism,

materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Having set forth this crucial need to reorder our values, the author then discusses how the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects a global movement, pointing out that “around the world, citizens have taken to the street to reject militarism, materialism, and racism,” but also that “corporations and the voices of their mass media outlets cannot understand the message that these brave human beings communicate.” In conclusion, Dr. Greason offers the vitally important observation and solution that “the Occupy movement has not realized how to make itself heard most effectively…that the mobilizations in urban centers miss the center of political and economic gravity…these voices must be heard in the suburbs.” Further, he advocates meeting “the middle class where it resides,” and suggests occupying suburbs, the World Series, the National Football League, and the Olympic Games.

How interesting, I thought,  as Dr. Greason’s suggestions sunk in. And how relevant to the upcoming Presidential election next year, with all the candidates focused on appealing to the same middle class that he has so intently focused upon.

And as if Dr. Greason were reading my mind, he follows with a fictional letter that illustrates how the corporate structure would respond to protestors through the police authority, reminiscent of how protestors were assaulted during the Selma March and in Birmingham by Sheriff Bull Connors with his dogs and fire hoses during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. I smiled at the hope that such conduct employed today against Occupy protestors, would likewise awaken and arouse the vast majority of Americans to radically reorder our priorities in favor of social justice.

While I believe that these two core essays provide the necessary focus on America’s major problems, along with realistic suggestions on how we can overcome them, in following essays, Dr. Greason also addresses the problem of political polarization and the need to return to the spirit of compromise, as well as the need to end de facto segregation based on “credit ratings that are thinly disguised racial covenants.”

Further essays in this segment begin by introducing the reader to a book, The Age of Fracture, by Daniel Rodgers, which illustrates that “Americans adopted a vocabulary—a rhetoric—of alienation and despair in the last decades of the Cold War,” and how “this transformation of our concepts and the words we chose to represent our world crippled the public ability to craft policy based on the social structures that govern capitalism.” For example, “we made ‘choice’ synonymous with freedom and ‘market’ became the basis of our cultural judgment. The reliance on these kinds of concepts to govern ourselves oversimplified the society…making “the complexity of social relationships and the history of civilization irrelevant to our law and national identity.” In studying this essay, it can be seen that the need to consider the power of our words and ideas, and to reform same, coincides with the need and the ability to reorder our values.

Following in the footsteps of The Age of Fracture, the author then illustrates how The Tea Party and Globalization has been manipulated by the power structure of national and international corporations to promote division amongst the various segments of our society, and “make property…the primary civic virtue, supplanting life and liberty.”

Further in this vein, the next series of essays demonstrate how the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts has catered to the interests of the corporate power structure, to the detriment of individual rights; illustrates the principles of good government, and advocates that corporate authority should never be allowed “to threaten the fundamental dignity and worth of humanity;” offers an insightful view of how “Professionalization threatens to dismantle the most important accomplishments of higher education from the last two generations; and provides an equally poignant view of how we citizens must tune out the media that make our ideological differences “political sport,” and instead “talk with each other and attempt to resolve these ideological differences—house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood.”

The final cornerstone of Dr. Greason’s blueprint, entitled Economics, offers equally creative ideas to those gifted by its three predecessors. In the opening essay, he traces economic development from the end of World War II to the present, with emphasis on the role that expansive government has played. Then, highlighting the philosophic division that has developed between Liberals “who see government as the common ground where compromise is essential to provide good roads, strong police forces, innovative schools, an open media landscape,” with Conservatives who “assert that private organizations demonstrate the success of individual ingenuity and that governments only interfere with the efficient functions of markets to determine social success and failure, he proposes a seriously unique and highly provocative solution:

“The United States needs to commit to a new vision for our federal and state governments. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, women must take the reins of elective representation. Too many of the men in office have long connections to traditions of frustrating public accountability and abusing the public trust…By 2020, women should be the majority in both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court as well as the majority of governors and representatives in the statehouses.”

Wow! Why not give the women a chance to lead? I thought after turning over this essay in my mind a dozen or so times. I also wonder what they could accomplish with respect to solving another of the triplet problems our society faces: militarism.

After this thoroughly stimulating essay, Dr. Greason follows with a series devoted to separate economic problems, suggesting in the first that we need to create Centers for Metropolitan Growth to help existing and prospective business owners adapt their enterprises so as to be able to “use” mega businesses such as Walmart to distribute new products, then follows with a discussion of “informative economics” to demonstrate how an overreliance on any single form of capital investment creates a stagnant economy, such as happened to Detroit with its overreliance on the physical infrastructure of the automobile industry.

Continuing in this vein, subsequent essays in this section offer insights into: income inequality, the fallacy that a rising tide lifts all boats, and how “new educational initiatives and targeted tax reform” can help; and how unbridled consumerism causes households to lack the basic asset of an emergency fund, and how reducing wasteful spending on entertainment can restore economic balance.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate my strong recommendation to place The Engine Of Creation at the top of your must-read list of books! I believe that you will find this collection of essays most rewarding, because it not only honestly sets forth the serious challenges that America, and our world, faces, but with equal integrity boldly and brilliantly sets forth positive solutions to defeat racism, consumerism, and militarism!

In an era when the news media focuses on the negative, and directs our attention to same, how rewarding indeed it is to have a book that not only teaches positive solutions to America’s problems, but also instructs each of us that there is hope, that together we are not powerless, but actually powerful. And that if we stop our busy lives for a long moment and deeply reflect, we will conclude that there are far more basic principles of justice and equality that join us Americans than the few subsidiary issues that divide us, and that each of us can make a difference by joining one of numerous grass-roots to national organizations that are working daily toward defeating the toxic triplets and building an America with social justice for all.

The Rule Of Law: Without Trust It Fails

In my blog post of May 27th, entitled The Rule Of Law: Fair Or Foul, I focused on two of the World Justice Project’s four elements that form a working definition of the Rule Of Law, namely: Accountability and Even Enforcement. In that post, as well as several prior ones, I have stressed that the Rule of Law founds our society, and that in turn, trust founds the Rule, and Accountability and Even Enforcement found trust.

Yesterday, in The New York Times I read that two weeks ago four members of the British Parliament (two from the Labour Party and two from the Conservative Party) had traveled to Washington D.C. to argue for the immediate release of Shaker Aamer, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay Prison.

Mr. Aamer has been in American custody since he was apprehended in Afghanistan in 2001 where he was doing charity work. And after a stay in Bagram Prison, where he was tortured, he was transferred to Guantanamo in February, 2002, where he has remained for thirteen years without ever having been charged with any crime.

In our Criminal Justice System, the law requires that when a person is arrested, that he appear before a judge in court within a specified time period, usually 48 hours, and learn the charges against him. Under the Patriot Act, an enemy combatant has no such rights, and while I understand that in order to combat terrorism, those charged with the responsibility of doing so must be given some extra leeway, that flexibility to gather evidence and formulate a case should still be consistent with the concept of due process. Not being a terrorism expert, I’m not sure of what the time period for filing charges should be. However, I am sure that the Rule of Law requires the application of the principle of reasonableness, and that indefinite unequivocally fails to meet this test. Our federal government has never explained why, to keep us safe from terrorists, that if they suspect a person of being connected to terrorism, they cannot gather enough evidence to charge that person with a crime within a reasonable period of time.

So: Accountability score: Zero, as in none.

And to make matters worse, in 2007, during the Bush Administration, Mr. Aamer was cleared for release, but remained incarcerated. And in 2010, under President Obama he was again cleared for release after six agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and the Departments of State and Defense unanimously concurred, but remained in prison. And even after England’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, while visiting President Obama earlier this year, asked for his release and President Obama promised to pursue the matter, Mr. Aamer still remains in Guantanamo.

Why? There may be some security issues, is what the four members of Parliament were told. After 13 years, without a single charge being made against Mr. Aamer? When he’s been cleared for release twice? Utterly unconscionable! is the only term that comes to mind to describe the actions of all three branches of our federal government.

And a serious blow to the essential element of trust, to boot. For if government officials at the highest levels are blatantly unaccountable, why should we trust the Rule of Law?

But it’s only one case, runs the counter-argument. Well, stop and consider that the same Patriot Act that has resulted in Mr. Aamer’s tragic situation also applies to you and me, so just pray that some official in our security apparatus doesn’t designate one of us as an enemy combatant.

For an encore, this morning’s New York Times reported that Kalief Browder, a young man who was held at the Rikers Island Jail in New York City for three years without ever being charged with a crime, committed suicide three years after his release. It appears that Kalief was unable to recover from repeated beatings by correction officers and fellow inmates, and the two years he spent in solitary confinement after refusing several offers from prosecutors to take a plea deal. His mother reported that while Kalief did obtain his GED and started community college after his release, he was never able to recover from the years he spent locked alone in his cell for 23 hours a day and suffered a steady deterioration of his mental health.

Where was Kalief’s Public Defender, and why was he not arraigned in accordance with New York state law within 48 to 72 hours? And how can that misfeasance swell to 3 years? And who is responsible for this tragic miscarriage of justice? No answers to any of these questions exist in the article, and I was unable to discover any by researching the issue on the internet. New York’s mayor, DeBlasio, has called for a major reform of Rikers, and in a statement, said: “Kalief’s story helped inspire our efforts.”

Accountability score: Zero, as in none. And another serious blow to the element of trust, so essential to the Rule of Law.

And to demonstrate how trust is being replaced by distrust in the minds and hearts of many of our fellow citizens, this morning’s New York Times also reported that in Cleveland, “Community leaders, distrustful of the Criminal Justice System, said Monday that they would not wait for prosecutors to decide whether to file charges against the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year.” Ohio is one of a few states that have a statute that allow residents to request an arrest without approval of the police or prosecutors. And not trusting the prosecutors in Cleveland, who work closely with the police, and who will proceed by the secret grand jury process, community leaders have instead chosen to directly petition a judge, so as to obtain an open hearing with evidence provided by all sides involved.

Who can blame them, after so many unarmed African-Americans have been killed by police, and with rare exception were the incidents fairly and openly investigated?

For a significant portion of our fellow citizens, and in particular people of color and the poor, events, from Ferguson, to Cleveland, to Detroit, to North Charleston have seriously eroded the trust that is essential for the Rule of Law to continue governing our society. As my novel, Gideon’s Children, illustrated, the growing conversation about the crucial need to fix the serious problems in all phases of our Criminal Justice System needs to grow larger and louder now! Please let your municipal, state, and federal representatives know that reform should be at the top of their list of priorities. Nothing is more important than ensuring that the Rule of Law continues to found our society and all of the citizens who comprise it!

The Rule Of Law: Accountability Requires Recognition Of Everyone’s Humanity

In my blog post of May 27th, entitled The Rule Of Law: Fair Or Foul, I noted that four principles formed the World Justice Project’s working definition of The Rule Of Law, and thereafter focused on accountability as one of the two most crucial factors in building the essential element of trust that underpins this Rule on which our society is based.

In an article by Gary Younge, the brilliant New York correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, which I received via a blog post on Goodreads (Younge post), Gary pointed out that all lives matter, and the failure of U.S. governmental authorities “to keep track of how many people its police kill” detracts from their humanity. In agreement with this opinion, and the loss of accountability that it entails, I responded to Gary’s post on Goodreads as follows:

Gary,

Your point is well taken. In the era of high-tech, where computers have made record keeping easy+, one could validly argue that the failure by governmental authorities to record the names, ages, race, and other vital statistics of every person killed by police is deliberate, and intended to dehumanize these individuals.

As my novel, Gideon’s Children, illustrates, Public Defenders must constantly remind judges, juries, and other court personnel, that their clients are human beings. Cases begin with the Judge stating: The People versus Joe or Mary, and prosecutors constantly cloak themselves in the aura of The People, i.e., The People will prove, the People contend, the People object etc. As my characters do in Gideon’s Children, when I was a Public Defender, when the jury was being selected, I would ask potential jurors if they realized that the term, defendant, was just that, a term, and that my client was a person. Thereafter, I used to object in open court to these constant People references, so that I could remind the judge and the jury that my client was a person, a real live human being, and one of the many individuals who comprise the People of the State.

This effort to dehumanize by the white power structure, which was begun in the era of slavery, then furthered fostered during the Jim Crow Era, was poignantly illustrated by Ralph Ellison in his classic novel, The Invisible Man. And while American Society has made progress on the issue of race, it remains a serious issue as recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, North Charleston, and Baltimore serve to illustrate.

Under The Rule of Law which founds our society, everyone must be accountable, and that includes the individuals who comprise our government.

In conclusion, I would emphasize that the essential element of trust underlying The Rule of Law cannot be maintained if those responsible for enforcing the law are not subject to the critical principle of accountability!

The Rule Of Law: Fair Or Foul

Two of the hottest topics receiving media coverage today are Income Inequality and The Rule of Law, the latter founding both the civil and criminal aspects of the American Judicial System. Recently, I read a concise yet well-documented treatment of these interrelated subjects, The Golden Rule: How Income Inequality Will Ruin America, by Renwei Chung, the brilliant young columnist for the highly regarded website Above The Law. In this post, I want to focus on Rule of Law as it applies to our Criminal Justice System, leaving the civil aspect for a separate post.

In his book, Renwei cites the World Justice Project’s four basic principles for a working definition of The Rule of Law, which are as follows:

  1. A system of self-government in which all persons, including the government, are accountable under the law;
  2. A system based on fair, publicized, broadly understood and stable laws;
  3. A fair, robust, and accessible legal process in which rights and responsibilities based in law are evenly enforced; and
  4. Diverse, competent, and independent lawyers and judges.

Now while all four principles are important, I want to focus in this discussion on numbers one and three, accountability and even enforcement. For above all, these two factors are crucial in building the essential element of trust which underpins the Rule of Law. Our society is based on law and the attendant order it brings. And the great majority of citizens follow the Rule, because they trust that its workings will result in a just society.

Let’s take a look at accountability. The principle dictates that all persons, including the government, must be accountable under the law. In the past few months, numerous incidents have occurred involving the deaths of unarmed individuals at the hands of various police agencies. Most police departments prefer to handle such incidents by having their Internal Affairs Departments investigate the officer’s conduct, or have a Grand Jury do likewise. Both of these methods do not offer the transparency necessary to produce accountability. The Internal Affairs Departments conduct their investigations in secrecy, without the public being privy to the testimony of witnesses, or other forms of evidence. And Grand Jury proceedings are likewise conducted in secrecy, with same being led by a prosecutor, who works with the police on an on-going basis, and without any other attorney or attorneys present to cross-examine witnesses or challenge the validity of the other forms of evidence presented.

All too frequently, the finding is that the officer or officers involved in a given incident acted properly. But the lack of transparency leads the general public, which is presented only with the investigation’s conclusion, and which might be perfectly proper, to sense a failure of accountability, and hence the Rule of Law. In the recent Baltimore incident, the District Attorney charged the officers involved in a method that will result in a trial that is open to the public and the media, thereby providing a forum where the officers start with a presumption of innocence, evidence can be provided by all parties concerned, and a judgment can be arrived at that honors transparency and accountability.

I am not suggesting that every incident of this type requires a full-blown trial. However, where the conduct of those individuals charged with the responsibility of enforcing our laws is called into question, I am suggesting that the investigation of that conduct must follow a process that is totally transparent in order to ensure that the principle of accountability is being followed, and faith in the Rule of Law is justified.

Of equal importance in maintaining trust in the Rule governing our society is the even enforcement of the laws we are all commanded to obey. And in this area, recent events give cause for serious concern.

As depicted in my novel, Gideon’s Children, our prisons are overcrowded with individuals who have been convicted of crimes involving drugs, the overwhelming majority for being in possession of relatively minor amounts of a proscribed substance. They broke the law, and they must pay the penalty, argue the adherents of the War on Drugs.

However, a totally different picture is painted if one enters the rarified atmosphere of white-collar crime, particularly if large corporations or elite Wall Street investment banks are involved.

Last week, five of the world’s biggest banks plead guilty to an array of felony criminal anti-trust and fraud violations for rigging the price of foreign currencies. All five paid enormous fines of billions of dollars, but no one is being sent to prison. This, of course, follows the pattern born in 2008, when the largest Wall Street investment banks packaged sub-prime mortgages into investment securities that virtually no one understood, and then added credit-swaps to engineer a economic crash that without intervention by the Federal government would have produced a depression that would’ve made the Great Depression look like a Sunday-school picnic, with no major person going to jail.

In 2014, an internal investigation of General Motors by General Motors condemned a decade-long failure to fix a deadly safety defect with respect to a faulty ignition switch installed in hundreds of thousands of its cars, and which resulted in a huge number of accidents and at least 13 deaths. Fifteen employees, including one vice president and a senior lawyer responsible for product liability cases, were dismissed.

Dismissed? Okay, that’s an obvious first step. But why was not one single person held criminally responsible for his or her totally reprehensible conduct? The report indicates that complaints had come in steadily over a ten-year period, including reports of deaths, and that despite internal discussion of same with engineers and amongst senior executives, nothing was done to correct the matter, nor did anyone blow the whistle. When negligence reaches a level of grossness such as occurred here over a ten-year period, with deaths occurring, criminal charges are clearly called for. Yet not a single person was charged.

Undoubtedly, this seriously sad fact was factored into the game plan of Takata, one of the largest suppliers of airbags in automobiles, in denying for more than a decade that its airbags were defective even as motorists were killed and maimed by exploding airbags. Apparently it’s more financially beneficial via a cost-benefit analysis to settle the relatively few lawsuits that occurred over a ten-year period than to initially admit the problem and issue a major recall. Finally, on May 20th, Takata admitted that its airbags were defective and agreed to double the number of vehicles recalled in the U.S. to nearly 34 million. Fines? Oh, yeah, they are sure to accrue. But how about something stiffer, like prison time for those who tried to cover this up and hope that the problem would go away? How about letting executives at major corporations know that if similar incidents occur, there will be major consequences, that you can’t just pay large fines, then compute them into the cost of doing business?

Moreover, this disparity has a cancerous effect on the trust element underlying the Rule of Law. If some of our fellow Americans can draw prison sentences for being in possession of heroin or cocaine, but executives who conspire to rig currency prices, or consciously decide to ignore product defects that kill or maim their trusting customers, only have their corporations pay a fine, what does that do to faith in the Rule of Law? What lesson is our Criminal Justice System teaching us, and our children? And what other areas of our society are likely  to be infected?

All of us need to let our governmental representatives know that we condemn this unequal enforcement of our criminal laws, and that executives who conduct themselves like those at GM and the banks and investment banks referred to herein above need to be punished in accord with the crimes they commit.