With all the fevered talk about the economic crisis, there has been remarkably little talk about making
accountable those Wall Street
bankers, flim-flam artists and other speculators who got us into this mess. A bracing exception to the
see-no-evil-hear-no-evil rule is the tireless Bernie Sanders,
Independent Senator from Vermont, who is asking some hard questions
– as in, who, how, why? – that would make FDR proud.
In a letter he sent Friday to Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, Sanders proposed that the congressional
oversight panel scrutinizing the Troubled Asset Relief
Program (TARP) expand its investigation to study the causes of the economic collapse.
"We have an enormous responsibility to explain to the American
people what led to this financial crisis, how did we get here, who is
responsible, and what we can do to make sure that this never happens
again..." Sanders wrote. "We need to examine what responsibility should be borne by individuals,
corporations, and institutions for the poor decisions and foolish
investments that have in large measure created this monumental crisis."
In Sanders' insistence on accountability during this collapse, notes John Nichols in The Nation, he follows in the admirable footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression. In his first inaugural address, FDR called for investigating the crisis and holding responsible those who caused it.
The measure of restoring public trust, he said, "lies in the extent to which we apply
social values more noble than mere monetary profit."
"Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand
indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and
minds of men....." said FDR. "They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.
They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish."
For more of John Nichols on FDR click here