Life is strange and often unfair. For years, most of us have heard that life is not supposed to be fair; and that in and of itself is not fair. Unfortunately, that is how life is, and fairness or the lack thereof, is an uncomfortable and often disappointing fact of life. As I listen and watch the financial and housing markets crumble, the situation bothers me that those that have gotten us into this mess are appearing to get away with crumbling the market with little or no penalty. Life is funny, and makes one wonder why it is okay for some people to break the law and not okay for others?
I find odd that lawmakers, it seems, without hesitation or a blink of the eye will put away a child or young adult, or even an adult in jail for years for selling drugs; however, those that have caused millions of individuals to lose their jobs, homes, savings, and dignity are receiving bail outs, bonuses, and severance packages worth more than the average man or woman could ever earn in a lifetime. How many small businesses can go to the government when business is slow and ask for a bailout; because they do not want to go through bankruptcy? Small businesses are failing every day. Even larger ones are going under. Just last week Circuit City announced they would be going out of business. When the average Joe or Jane is having trouble or in trouble he or she is on his or her own. There is no lifeline available.
While I use the sale of drugs as a crime that affects many, let me be absolutely clear, I am not and would never suggest that selling drugs is right, as drug use has destroyed thousands of individuals, families, and communities. The comparison of the two crimes is only to suggest that drug sold in our communities are equally as vile as the impact of the aftermath of those that put together the scheme that led the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse; yet the punishments are vastly different. Thousands of individuals bought into the idea that they could afford a piece of the American dream of owning a home. Many jump on the bandwagon and either purchased homes they clearly should not have, or cashed out equity that in reality they did not have as it was part of the illusion of an over-valued housing market. At the end of the day, drug dealers and the lenders deliberately deceived thousands for greed and a quick buck. For that reason, both crimes should be punished equally as harsh.
However, what has happened is that those that sell drugs get time, those that destroy financial markets and the financial lives of millions get golden parachutes. The only difference I can see between those that have not and are trying to get, and those that have and trying to get more is the have not get punished. I began by stating that life is not fair and while life is unfair, punishment should not be. There is also another saying that the punishment should met the crime, and in the case of those executives that engineered a global financial meltdown because of their greed, surely, the punishment should be far more severe than a slap on the wrist and a multi-million dollar departure package.
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