Re "Why execs, not companies, should face prosecution," Column, Jan. 1
Michael Hiltzik and U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff get it right. The lack of will to prosecute crooks goes back at least a decade, when our anti-tax members of Congress made the government too weak to prosecute the privileged and wealthy. White-collar crime has been effectively decriminalized.
Most instances of government weakness can be blamed on inadequate funding. Part of this is because we have the poor and middle class hit the hardest by sales taxes while a transaction tax that hits the investor class is a no-no.
Corporations are inanimate objects whose behavior is determined by the people who control them. As Hiltzik points out, nominal settlements with corporations have little deterrent effect on future behavior.
My concern with prosecuting executives, however, is that the prosecution might become politicized. Whichever party has control will probably focus its power through the lens of politics. Pardon my cynicism.
As an aside, I find Rakoff's quote that "companies do not commit crimes, only their agents do" interesting. Isn't that the same reasoning gun-control advocates routinely reject, that "guns don't commit crimes, people do"?