Lanny Breuer all but admitted it, but his former boss Eric Holder went all the way yesterday, telling Congress the Justice Department can’t prosecute Wall Street banks because they’re too big to fail. The Hill:
“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” he said. “And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large”…
“The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share,” he said, adding that ultimately the best deterrent would be if they could bring charges against individuals instead of companies.
He started off well, at least. Then it was back to the same old baloney:
However, he also added that all of the bad behavior on Wall Street leading up to the crisis may not necessarily have been criminal and that his criminal team has been “as aggressive as they could be.”
Holder is backing himself into the old fraud-without-fraudsters corner. He implies that he would have criminally prosecuted banks had they not been too big to fail, but he can’t find any individuals who actually worked at the banks to prosecute.
Regardless, in a sane political system, Holder’s admission would be a turning point in breaking up the TBTF banks, who are so threatening that the Attorney General deems them unchargeable.
Needless to say, it won’t be.
— In techno-utopia backlash news, Colin McGinn shreds the futurist and Google guy Ray Kurzweil in The New York Review of Books.
Kurzweil is the guy who has helped popularize the notion of the Singularity, a notion essentially posits that sentient computers will overtake humanity in the next three decades. You can tell from his book title alone that this is a guy with some kind of ego: How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.
McGinn punctures it, noting that Kurzweil’s thesis that the mind is just a pattern recognition machine is fallacious:
When I am thinking about London while in Miami I am not recognizing any presented stimulus as London—since I am not perceiving London with my senses. There is no perceptual recognition going on at all in thinking about an absent object. So pattern recognition cannot be the essential nature of thought. This point seems totally obvious and quite devastating, yet Kurzweil has nothing to say about it, not even acknowledging the problem…
Then there are such mental phenomena as emotion, imagination, reasoning, willing, intending, calculating, silently talking to oneself, feeling pain and pleasure, itches, and moods—the full panoply of the mind. In what useful sense do all these count as “pattern recognition”? Certainly they are nothing like the perceptual cases on which Kurzweil focuses. He makes no attempt to explain how these very various mental phenomena fit his supposedly general theory of mind—and they clearly do not. So he has not shown us how to “create a mind,” or come anywhere near to doing so. Thus the hype of the title explodes very early and with a feeble fizzle. Why write a book with such an ambitious title and then deliver so little?