First, a little background. You, like most other Americans may be aware that we have been in trying financial times in recent years. Unemployment has been at it’s highest point in decades, with millions more Americans underemployed. At the same time we have been experiencing a mortgage crisis affecting millions of Americans, many of whom face foreclosure. World markets and economies have been adversely affected, the list goes on and on.
All of this was created by a complex series of questionable practices and decisions, some of which were legal, others of which were not, made by our financial sector. The Dodd-Frank bill was a fairly modest attempt to address the behavior that led to the current recession, in an attempt to limit the risk of this kind of recession from happening again.
One of the measures was an incentive program that would create a financial reward for whistleblowers who report wrongdoing to the SEC. Tips leading to penalties would be rewarded with a percentage of the penalties.
Enter Congressman Michael Grimm. Congressman Grimm recently submitted a bill that would all but guarantee that whistleblowers would stop blowing their whistle. Grimm’s proposal not only removes all incentive from the system but also creates disincentives to report wrongdoing. In short, Grimm’s proposal would:
1. Remove the financial incentive for whistleblowers by eliminating the financial reward
2. Create a disincentive by forcing whistleblowers to report to their employers, not the SEC
So under Grimm’s plan, the reward for whistleblowing is the likelihood that you lose your job or watch your career go down the drain as your employer seeks retribution without anyone outside of the company ever knowing. There is an added bonus that the illegal or unethical behavior would continue unnoticed creating much larger impact to the market down the road.
Yet again we see Congressman Grimm supporting the interests of lobbyists and corporations while he ignores the plight of citizens. This is looking to be a disturbing trend.
It’s easy to understand Congressman Grimm’s desire to support Wall Street. It can not be denied that they are the engine that drives this city’s economy, our state economy, and for that matter the US economy and the world economy. This is precisely why it is so vital that Wall Street conducts it’s business in an ethical, legal and most importantly, productive way.
As the engine of our economy, Wall Street needs to be not just loud, but powerful. Like a tricked out Honda Civic, in recent years Wall Street has been loud and flashy. Their profits have returned, the markets have recovered, and their bonuses have been large. Yes, the Wall Street engine has been really, really loud. Yet we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Unemployment is still high. Middle class incomes have gone from flat to declining. Homes across the country have less value than their mortgages. Underemployment remains a problem.
What we really need from our economic engine is not to sound powerful, but to be powerful. Our economic engine should move the nation, it should drive us all to prosperity not just make lines on a chart go up, producing bonuses for a select few.
Fundamentally sound markets will make our city, our state and our nation stronger. Honest regulation that results in a powerful economic engine is good for us all, including Wall Street. So long as there is no check against the policies and practices that led to the Great Recession we are destined to repeat it. The next time the bubble bursts I wonder if our nation will have the financial means to dole out $trillions to rescue the markets again.
Congressman Grimm seeks to weaken the markets by enabling them to produce new houses of cards that yield great returns for them, but little progress for us. Our strength comes from the engine of Wall Street, let’s get them to focus not on noise, but on power that drives us all forward.