Worse than the Mafia, the Russian mob, the Crips, the Bloods, M13, Al Qaeda or any drug cartel from south of the border, there exists a criminal organization in America that has been in operation for a very long time, beyond the reach of law enforcement agencies. Indeed, it has infiltrated the very highest levels of government, placing trusted gang members in positions of influence in the United States Treasury, Congress, the Vice Presidency and in the regulatory agencies created to combat their activities.

They do not deal drugs, promote prostitution, run gambling rings or operate protection rackets, but instead cut right to the chase and engage in worldwide usury (loan sharking in gang terms) and the outright theft of money, manipulating the nation’s economy in order to steal as much money as they can. Call them the Wall Street Cartel, the Corporate Princes, or even their own name for themselves: Masters of The Universe. Their greed and unscrupulous practices know no bounds, and the millions of lives they have ruined are of no consequence to them.

These Masters of The Universe came very close in 2008 to destroying the strongest economy the world has ever seen. Almost overnight, 7 trillion (with a tr and not a b) dollars of American wealth disappeared as a direct result of their criminal activities. These gang members had been involved in many fraudulent schemes over a period of years, falsely inflating the value of their companies, issuing mortgages designed to fail and then betting against their performance while selling them to their unsuspecting clients as high-values securities, making mountains of money on both ends of a bad deal. They also invented many other pyramid-type schemes designed only to enrich themselves at the expense of millions of others.

At one time banks and investment houses were respectable businesses run by cautious and earnest men who took their responsibility as the repository of other peoples’ money very seriously. They realized that banks produced no products and existed only to serve businesses that did produce goods and services, and working people who wished to save some of their hard-earned money. Banks made loans to businesses and individuals and wrote mortgages, while investment houses and stock brokers traded shares in the companies that produced goods and services, rating them according to their proven performance.

There was no such thing as hedge funds (questionable investment schemes that routinely earn their mangers a billion or more per year), and the derivatives markets were tools used mainly by farmers to protect themselves from the vagaries of Mother Nature. Banking and stock brokering were lucrative trades, often amassing large fortunes for sharp individuals. The really big fortunes, however, were made by the people who invented and sold desirable products, or who founded giant industries employing many thousands of people. Banks and the financial industries were adjuncts of real production, not aggressive players in the consumer markets. These days, the money once used as seed capital for hard industry is no longer available, instead being used in rigged games of chance.

Banks, as the famous bank robber Willie Sutton answered when asked why he robbed them, “are where the money is,” and thieves are attracted to other people’s money like bees to honey. People smarter than Willie Sutton realized that you can rob a bank far more effectively from the inside than with a note to the teller and a pistol. As far back as the 1920s the criminals started infiltrating the financial industries and the result was Black Tuesday in 1929, followed by 12 years of crippling worldwide hardship called the Great Depression.

Regulatory agencies were created to police the industry, but time and new technology gave the Masters of The Universe more openings to steal. They had also infiltrated the government over the years and had cultivated a facade of respectability to the point that few people in society knew that our financial institutions were being run by gangsters. Then came 2008 and the whole world knew. It is time to use the RICO statutes designed to fight the Mafia to prosecute these powerful and elusive thugs.

What’s on the side of law enforcement is the supreme arrogance of the Masters of The Universe. For so many years they have been so far above the law and out of reach of the authorities that they got careless and put a lot of things in writing. They also sent countless incriminating e-mails back and forth, and even Masters of The Universe are helpless against Masters of the Geek Arts who can retrieve any e-mail ever deleted, and peel down the hard drives of any computer to get facts, and the facts of life in the financial industry are very startling. There needs to be a new category of theft created for the magnitude of their crimes. Grand Larceny doesn’t begin to describe their activities.

The authorities need to round them up, and all their associates inside the government. When and if convicted, the RICO statutes provide for the confiscation of their ill-gotten fortunes, along with all their fabulous homes, artwork, cars and jets. Ask Bernie Madoff how this works. Those acquitted get to keep their fortunes, just like in any other mob-related prosecution. There are a thousand Wall Street Cartel thugs to be investigated, indicted, tried and convicted for stealing everyone else’s money, subverting the United States government and committing fraud on the grandest scale imaginable.

Perhaps a few years can be tacked on their sentences for being the most boring and unappealing batch of bank robbers ever, as shallow and narcissistic a gang as ever breathed. The whole bunch of them combined don’t have the personality or charm of a single John Dillinger, Willie Sutton or Jesse James, and less panache than someone in a coma. They had easy 9-to-5 jobs, weekends off, that made them legitimately wealthy, and yet decided to steal and cheat out of pure greed. When wealth, privilege and comfort are not enough to keep you honest, then it’s time to lock your boring, greedy ass up with all the other criminals. Spike is waiting for them in prison. Let’s see if the Masters of The Universe title can impress him.

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