A Lack of Will

If you’ve been listening to NPR over the past week, you may have heard this interview with former New York Attorney General and governor, the disgraced Eliot Spitzer. No, they weren’t interviewing him to hound him about his time in the doghouse after the scandal of his patronage of a high-end prostitution ring (I believe you refer to it as a “house of ill repute”, when the girls cost you a grand or more per hour…) – they sought his opinion on the current global financial crisis and, at least here in the U.S., it’s roots in the subprime lending crisis. In case you didn’t know, before Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York (but probably not before he was an adulterer) he was the state’s Attorney General. Early last year before his popular demise, Spitzer contributed http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021302783.html>this article. Telling though it was, especially as the subprime lending crisis grew, the article was largely ignored by many media outlets – even those not in the mainstream. Though I would estimate we’d still be in rough waters had anyone bothered to take Spitzer’s article to heart, I think many would agree that a lesser version of the current crisis would be better.

While it seems obvious that the global financial crisis is not solely the product of predatory lending practices and “a lack of will, not power” by federal regulators to investigate and prosecute the illegal dealings in the financial sector, Spitzer does make a valid case for these two variables being of particular significance. Whether or not you think Spitzer is a smutbucket or just another philandering politician, he does have the experience as a former Attorney General who, along with his colleagues in other states, tried to fight back against the irresponsible and downright illegal lending practices of banks but was cut off by the Bush administration. Spitzer concludes his article with the prediction that “the Bush administration will not be judged favorably” once the history of this crisis is investigated, revealed, and written. One can only hope, it seems, that though it is unlikely (nigh, impossible) that anyone directly responsible in that administration will be held accountable, that future generations can be far more wary.

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