Jailing the Banksters Continued (Iceland Not Us, Duh)

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Protesting the banksters

While the U.S. is busily and boldly jailing hapless poor black people over unpaid speeding tickets, Iceland doggedly persists in going after the true scofflaws - gluttonous bankers who eight years ago crashed that country's economy. In two separate rulings last week, Icelandic courts sentenced five top bankers at the country's largest banks - three managers at Landsbankinn, two at Kaupping and a prominent investor - to prison terms of up to five years, thus righteously putting away 26 lords of capitalism's "holy churches" for a combined 74 years.

The rulings from the Supreme Court of Iceland and the Reykjavík District Court came after the banksters had been found guilty of market manipulation, embezzlement, and breach of fiduciary duties. They will join former colleagues - helpfully dubbed "bankers behind bars" by an obliging media - regularly convicted over the past several years, including eleven sentence of at least four and a half years in prison; the current maximum penalty for financial crimes in Iceland is six years, but the Supreme Court is considering expanding it.


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Of course, Iceland's diligent ongoing prosecution and conviction of its economic kingpins stands in sharp sorry contrast to the U.S., which blithely bailed out carpetbaggers like Wells Fargo, Citibank and Chase with $700 billion in taxpayers'  money, and then failed to prosecute, convict or even slap the wrist of a single scumbag among them. Adding incomprehensible insult to infuriating injury, many executives went on to earn obscene bonuses for their transgressions.

Today, after adopting the unprecedented strategy of letting the banks fail and rejecting the kind of austerity measures that have almost destroyed much of Europe, Iceland has made what many call a miraculous economic recovery. Asked about that success, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimmson pointedly noted, "We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years." He went on with an argument - and prediction - sure to explode heads at Wells Fargo: “Why are banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies, and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail out banks is (based on the idea) that you allow bankers to enjoy their own profit...and then let ordinary people bear (the weight of) their failure. 
People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run."

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Dubbed the most famous protest sign in Iceland's history; translates as "Goddamn fucking fuck." Photo/Stefán Karlsson

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