Creative shaming

By Matt Miller

About those taxpayer funded bonuses on Wall Street: it's hard to believe there's no legal theory that would let shareholders or creditors claw back some of these billions in ill-gottens gains.  But even if not, there ought to be creative ways to shame these folks for their behavior.  Not just for these year end bonuses, mind you, but for the whole financial meltdown. After all, it's probably only a few thousand people at these top banks (and maybe far less) who got rich doing something that's soured the economy for the other 300 million of us.

So here's a thought: Why can't the feds condition any use (or further uses) of TARP money on access to each bank's records so that the names of people who got rich peddling the bogus stuff that later sank the national economy could be published in a very high-profile way. I'm thinking of some public display that looks like the Vietnam Memorial in DC -- a simple but devastating list of names (and maybe the amount of each person's misbegotten earnings). Except this time the people wouldn't be heroes who gave their lives, they'd be on the Wall of Wall Street Shame -- people who got rich sinking the country.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/01/creative-shaming/247/