Joined Nov 11, 2007
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If Only the Gov’t Went After Bankers Like they Do Athletes

It is a good question as to why this is so….

urrounded as we are these days by financial malfeasance on such an epic scale, the amount of time and money spent hunting down the facts as to whether former Major League pitcher Roger Clemens and seven-­time Tour de France cycling champ Lance Armstrong took performance-­enhancing drugs to gain an edge is something of a mystery. When an actor gives a cocaine-fueled, Oscar-winning performance, do we take his award away? Do we reclaim a singer’s Grammy, or put an asterisk after it in the record books, when we discover that he was ramped up on illegal substances? Why all the outrage over athletes? The recent Clemens trial involved his alleged perjury before a 2008 congressional committee, when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. The case consumed more than two years of federal prosecutors’ time, cost the government an estimated $2 million to $3 million, and resulted in an acquittal.

Let’s face it, who among us wouldn’t take a pill or potion that would make us better at our job? Goodness knows, we abuse substances for just about everything in our personal lives; why not in our professional lives as well? Writers, artists, composers, and other practitioners of the lonely arts have historically relied on a trio of little helpers: booze, coffee, and cigarettes. They’re not illegal, but the first one, used in quantity, can certainly kill you. And the last one, if the anti-smoking lobby is to be believed, can kill not just you but those around you as well.

The government’s attitude toward different professions is striking. With sports scandals, it zeros in on individuals. But when it comes to banks, federal authorities go after the institutions—when they go after anything at all. The people at the center of a financial scandal are almost never touched, and most walk away with compensation packages that would make a cable-news anchor or a talk-show host blush.

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