President Abraham Lincoln made this profound statement in 1837, yet it remains applicable today. The people have once again bailed out financial institutions paying for the dalliances and excesses of Wall Street. Those on Main Street never got invited to the soirees but they are footing the bill – to the tune of $9.7 trillion by one Bloomberg estimate.
Indeed, over the past two years, everyday Americans have found little reason to sing or dance as news of the arrogance and greed of those in the financial sector seems never ending. Just when we think we’ve heard the worst, another ball drops. Just when we thought big bankers were sufficiently chagrined by the anger of hard-working taxpayers, we’re told that big Wall Street firms are gearing up for another round of ridiculously high and undeserved bonuses. It has seemed that there is little that the government or the public can do to make financial institutions benefiting from the public’s generosity place the interests of consumers and communities above those of their own. But, hope does spring eternal in an often overlooked provision of an important civil rights statute.