Last Thursday night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart introduced a new segment entitled “How The F#@K Is It That Martha Stewart Went To Jail?” in which he reported that Bloomberg News broke the story about the Federal Reserve’s secret program to loan the banking industry $7.7 trillion during the height of the financial crisis through something called the Discount Window. To make matters worse, the Federal Reserve charged the banks only 0.01 percent interest on this money, which was then leant back to the government, a deal from which the banks made $13 billion. Stewart further stated that the Federal Reserve kept this information from both the Department of Treasury and Congress. Many politicians are still in an uproar over the $700 billion TARP bailout of the financial community, imagine the uproar if they only had known the entire true story.
I have long opined that The Daily Show is the funniest show on television. It is said that young people get their news from Jon Stewart, which might be a good place to do so as this was the first I have heard of such a story. As a life-long news junkie, I watch a lot of twenty-four hour news channels, mostly MSNBC, however, never once have I heard any of their newscasters speak of such a transaction or seen an article in my newspaper. What makes this story such a disgrace is that the banking industry caused a near fatal collapse of the world market with their devious home loan practices, conflicts of interest within the too big to fail institutions and financial instruments so complicated that experts have a hard time explaining them, yet when they were bailed out by our government, instead of helping people re-finance their underwater home loans, they kept this money in house and gave themselves record bonuses. Once again, the titans of the banking industry are awarded all the profits, while our government assumes all the risks.
Back to the title of Mr. Stewart’s new segment, how is it that Martha Stewart went to jail over some minor insider trading secrets and the people responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression not only got off scot-free, but were awarded with record bonuses and a nearly interest free $7.7 trillion loan all the while families are losing their homes. Those responsible should be held accountable. Yet, not only have not one person been charged with a crime, but no new regulation has been passed to prevent such a financial disaster from occurring again. This is a travesty and a disgrace to every American!
Steven H. Spring