The Divide The Divide 8.9分

So much for American justice

2018-04-25 看过

I'm generally critical of arguments aimed at highlighting or addressing the wealth gap, failing to first identify the potential causes of such gap. Others start with questionable premises in approaching the issue. Certainly, some of the income differences are due to individual differences in productivity and ability. Others are due to differences in circumstances (inheritance for example), country or family of birth, etc. These are both natural factors whereby most fair-minded people can agree that no equality of outcome can be achieved through government actions. If tried (like many communist nations did), it will inevitably lead to unintended consequences due to altered human incentives.

However, the sort of justice gap detailed in this book is absolutely worth the attention. This is not another book that merely lashes out at the rich and powerful for their abusive use of power in evading criminal prosecutions, but it exposes the real culprit - a judicial system that enables such abuses to take place and systematically perpetuates a different set of treatments due to its own incentives (cost-benefit approach to fighting crime, going after easy targets as scapegoats, maximize prosecuted case statistics for promotion, etc.) Along the way, the author detailed some of the legal changes that paved the path to injustice (mostly unintended), such as the "broken windows” theory and emphasis on collateral damage in corporate rulings.

The real issue here is not unequal wealth, but a lack of political will to go after hard white-crime cases and unequal treatment before the law. Instead, they misallocate resources in stop-and-frisking innocent folks on the streets or prosecuting scapegoats like the Abacus bank. One of my colleagues was a senior executive of Fairfax Financial when the stock manipulations by the hedge funds took place in the early 2000s. He confirmed that he was personally subjected to some of the harassments detailed in the book and many worse tactics not mentioned. Yet after 12 years, the short-selling lawsuit against one of the hedge funds SAC Capital was officially dismissed recently on April 3, 2018. Apparently, the New Jersey Superior Court Judge ruled "there was no evidence SAC expected or intended to cause injury there while 'conspiring to drive down the share price of a Canadian company.'"

As of this year, Steven Cohen is back to managing money through Point72 Asset Management, after walking away from the biggest insider trading scandal in history (refer to book "Black Edge" or PBS documentary "To Catch a Trader" for details). So much for American justice.

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