Prescott Bush's bank was managing assets of a Nazi financier, including a steel plant that made heavy use of concentration camp labor. Far from being unaware of this, Bush mentioned it in correspondence and was concerned that his bank's ''interests be protected.'' The government found this activity troubling enough that they seized the banks assets under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Bush's punishment for his involvement?
You would think he would have at least ended up like John Walker Lind, stripped naked, blind-folded, and held in solitary until the trial that put him in prison for life (or shortened his life).
Instead, the whole business was hushed up and he later won a Senate seat.
It seems that something similar is going on with Wall Street today. Can anyone doubt that Wall Street's concerted effort to get themselves deregulated, their Rube Goldberg maze of shell corporations and off-shore accounts, and intentional defrauding of ordinary investors, mortgage holders, and retirees has done more damage to our economy than Tim McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, and all the other terrorists to ever blow up anything in the US combined?
And in fact, the connection to terrorism is not just by analogy, but literal. To the degree that we face a legitimate terrorist threat, it is because business interests demand to be put ahead of human rights, democracy, and even the national security of the United States.
The foremost example of this is how we treated Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev hoped to transition to a European-style social democracy, but the investor class and banks wanted a Russia that was easy to plunder of their natural resources and industry. The result was the standard of living and even life expectancy in Russia DROPPED after the fall of communism, and Putin succeeds partly because he is trying to reclaim their dignity by standing up to us. Oil companies interest in stripping Russia of their oil, gas, and pipeline income further antagonizes a Russia that we now no longer have an ideological beef with. In effect, for the sake of corporate profits, we are reigniting a Cold War with an enemy with thousands of nuclear weapons.
Worse, business is a direct cause of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Bush administrations failure to bring a quick conclusion to the War on Terror. Those in the Islamic world do not hate us for our freedom, but because we take theirs away to ensure that our oil companies have compliant governments to deal with, from overthrowing the democratically elected secular government of Iran in the 1950s to backing the oppressive Saudi government for decades. Oddly, even though the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 found direct involvement of the Saudi government in the attacks nothing was done about it. Whether this was done because we didn't want to jeopardize business ties with Saudis or because the Saudis were doing the Bush administration a favor with the attack, neither is acceptable.
And yet, the punishment of the wealthy who endanger and loot us like this will be much like Prescott Bush's. The public will use our taxpayer dollars to clean up their mess, and they will continue to live lives of leisure and be free exercise their power as ''masters of the universe'' even though they are masters of nothing but moving our money into their pockets.
I have no problem with capitalism in theory, but in practice, we can no longer afford a financial elite that not only ignores the law, but buys our politicians and makes the indefensible legal.
Any solution to this current problem has to involve putting the fear of God or at least fear of the wrath of the American people into these spoiled sociopathic trust fund babies, the likes of which no financial elite has felt since the Russian or even French Revolution.
Anything less than that leaves America and the world at risk from more attacks by these economic terrorists who make 9/11 look like a toddler's temper tantrum.