February 13, 2012
I'm writing in support of a strong "Volcker Rule."
Next month I will be 78-years-old. Over half a century ago, I majored in political science in college, and since then, and especially since retiring, I have read and studied political and economic and social theories and philosophies in depth, all the while watching current events in the U. S. and the world, and analyzing changes as they have occurred. It is an understatement to say that I am appalled at the poor performance of elected politicians in this nation who have failed to measure up to the trust and confidence placed in them by the voters.
From the very beginning of President Reagan's attacks on the very principals which curtailed the power of the robber barons, I became concerned about the hopes for sustaining democracy in the United States if checks and balances were removed from a pyramiding of wealth and power, from a redistribution of wealth into the hands of an ever smaller minority of the citizens, and kinds of privatization that put the reigns of commerce and government more and more into the hands of business combinations which have as their primary goal the gaining of profit and growth of their own interests, and the needs and wants of the citizenry a poor second to that. I perceive that efficiency for the sake of efficiency leads to the consolidation of profit into the hands of the greediest. Auschwitz, I have read, was efficient. But was it therefore the highest and best governance.
I never thought it wise to roll back the checks and balances that had been put up to curtail the strangulation of commerce that took place at the unregulated hands of the robber barons. In the name of efficiency, and even in the false name of reducing an "oversized government" I witnessed what amounted to monopolization of banking in the United States. After power became concentrated more and more into a few mega-banks, I was acutely aware of the veritable cultures of fraud occurring without adequate internal accounting controls, leading to an irrational increase in demand, driving the housing market upward to an inevitable crash. I have seen the nature of changes in health and hospitalization insurance, resulting from removal of checks and balances against its becoming monopolized (legally). And, having medical professionals in my family, including physicians, surgeons and one member high up in hospital administrations, I have been informed of ways medical insurance has been allowed to be turned into a quagmire of escalating complexity, of corrupt, greedy practices, driving the costs of medical care out of reach of many Americans who formerly had it. And I have seen elected officials stand up and make false statements about the reasons why medical costs became that way.
You need not concur with what I have seen and known about these things. Or you may not find it politically expedient to allow yourself to acknowledge them. However, I am writing this letter to beg you to support the writing and passing of a final rule that accomplishes the fundamental goals of the law which allows executives of corporations to make risky proprietary trading with money of unwitting shareholders, and with money borrowed at ridiculously low interest rates from the taxpayer-provided Treasury of the United States.
It is important that the needed legislation AVOID allowing exemptions or exceptions to undermine its intent. The Dodd Frank Act instructs you to make sure that the activities big banks are permitted to engage in do not create the risk of another financial crisis. Accomplishing this requires changes to current business practices on Wall Street. I urge you not to be swayed by financial industry campaign donations and lobbying, seeking to influence you to protect the status quo, as has tended to occur with prior token, or nominal-only efforts to protect the innocent citizens of the United States from being subjected to undue loss, as a result of inordinate risks and/or fraud.
It is also important that banks that break the rules should face real penalties for violations, and that corporate executives who hold the reins of accounting controls, and who cause or allow entire cultures of fraud (such as those that brought down the housing market and caused the Great Recession) to pass along fines and legal defense costs to the very corporations they have interactively caused or recklessly allowed to commit rampant, blatant criminal acts.
Violations of the "Volcker Rule" will endanger the stability of our financial system. No amount of monetary enticement, nor personality influence, should subvert the conscience, nor the devotion to the will of the people, of an elected official of the United States. so as to result in harm to the economy or the citizenry of the United States, while serving to enrich those who commit crimes against it.
Thank you for considering my views,
G. L. Lawton, Shreveport, LA