[Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced.]

Protecting Taxpayers From Bank Robbers Wall Street

“The best way to rob a bank is to own it.”

–book title; William K. Black

“The biggest bank there is . . . is the central bank.”

–Ross Kaplan

For almost 30 years, right-wing activist Grover Norquist has championed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” whereby elected officials promise not to raise taxes on anyone, anywhere, ever (smart and flexible stance, huh?).

pledgeTo date, practically all Republican House members and almost all Republican senators have signed on.

In light of Wall Street’s never being held to account for its perfidious role in The 2008 Crash — indeed, its continued outsized influence over the nation’s financial laws and monetary policy — how about something analogous to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge?

Titled “The Wall Street Pledge,” it would establish our officials’ independence from said institution, and signal to reform-hungry voters the candidates’ anti-status quo bona fides.

The 2016 Presidential contenders — especially those mouthing populist sympathies — can go first.

Here’s what I have in mind:

“The Wall Street Pledge”

One.  “I will not appoint or vote to confirm anyone with Wall Street ties to the following positions:  1) Fed Reserve Chair; 2) Securities and Exchange (“SEC”) Commission; 3) U.S. Treasury Secretary; 4) Federal Reserve Bank – New York; and 5) Commodity Futures Trading Board (“CFTB”).  For purposes of this Pledge, “ties” shall include but not be limited to:  1) Wall Street investment banks; 2) Wall Street law firms; 3) Wall Street lobbyists, consultants, etc.

Two.  “I will not accept campaign contributions from companies or individuals with Wall Street ties.”

Three. “I will not accept employment, consulting work, speaking honoraria, board directorships or any other form of compensation from companies or firms with Wall Street ties once I leave elected office.”

For all of the above, “I” shall include immediate family members and close relatives, as well as any entities — for-profit or non-profit — in which I, my family members or close relatives have an interest.

No More Conflict of Interest

The above, three-part pledge has the virtue of being short, sweet, and to the point.

And painless — unless of course, the politicians now collect money from Wall Street, or hope to once they leave office (sort of the whole point).

How about it, Hillary?

Whaddya think, Donald?

It’s a big country; there oughta be a couple thousand superb candidates out there (at least) without Wall Street connections who can be tapped — would be eager to be tapped — to help reform and most importantly strengthen the nation’s now-compromised financial system and key regulatory institutions.

P.S.:  If you’ve never really understood what The Federal Reserve Bank is or does, think of it as “the banks’ bank.”

Or at least, the very biggest banks’ bank.

See also, “Drug Dealers vs. Bankers:  ‘Top 10’ Differences“; “Resumé Multiple Choice, or, Did the Dallas Fed Pull a Cheney?”; “A Financial Gettysburg Address:  Redeeming the Financial Crash”; The Wall Street Journal Whiffs on Warren”; and “Goldman Sachs:  ‘It’s Not My Dog.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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