Weekly Roundup 4/11/2011

"How Wall Street Crooks Get Out of Jail Free"
William Greider, The Nation, April 11, 2011

Synopsis: Veteran journalist-author William Greider explains how the Justice Department’s policy of “deferred prosecution,” begun under President Bush and continued under President Obama, allows most corporations accused of financial or other crimes to escape serious punishment. Companies negotiate fines, which become part of the cost of doing business, or outside monitoring; but no corporate executives go to jail.

Takeaway: “Restoring justice thus has two parts,” Greider concludes, “establishing individual responsibility within the company and redefining criminal liability for the corporation in ways that have real impact on corporate behavior.”

For an earlier report, see “Corporate Crime,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, Oct. 11, 2002.

Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


"My Uncle, Oscar Hammerstein"
John Steele Gordon, Commentary, April 2011

Synopsis: Oscar Hammerstein is best known as the lyricist of beloved classics like Climb Every Mountain from “The Sound of Music” and Some Enchanted Evening from “South Pacific,” but his greater contribution may have been the librettos – or scripts -- he wrote for those and many other shows. Hammerstein’s scripts were perhaps the primary force that changed the American musical from an all-froth, no-plot evening at the theater to one of the great art forms of the 20th century. His work is capable of touching on deep and difficult themes, like the interracial marriage that figures largely in the plot of Show Boat, the 1927 show he wrote with Jerome Kern.
Takeaway: After years of struggle finally yielded Hammerstein’s first big critical and popular success, “Oklahoma, “it didn’t go to his head,” writes Gordon. In December 1943, just after “Oklahoma” began its first triumphant run, “he put an ad in Variety, as many show people did at Christmas time. But instead of noting his recent triumphs, he listed his five previous flops, with their runs, and added, ‘I’ve Done It Before and I Can Do It Again!’”

Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Peter G. Peterson’s Last Anti-Debt Crusade
Alan Feuer, The New York Times, April 8, 2011.

Outside the small circle of people who closely follow federal policy, his name may not mean much. But Peter G. “Pete” Peterson more than any other person made the national debt a top political issue. As a billionaire former investment banker (and Commerce secretary in the Nixon administration), he had the money and connections to develop a large audience for his worries that the country was going broke. Over the past 30 years, he’s published articles, made speeches and subsidized a foundation bearing his name. Now that much of the country’s political class has adopted his views, The Times reintroduces Peterson to a wider audience – not neglecting the views of economists who view his ideas as nothing more than a scheme to shrink Social Security and Medicare.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer