TED Conversations

Lindsay Newland Bowker

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Is Anyone Above the Law? Is it Prosecution or Correction We Most Need To Recover From Crimes That Affect So Many?

Is a process of truth, reconcilitaion and correction preferable to prosecution of wrong doing where the wrong doing has affected millions?

Two recent events in the public eye bring this questions to mind. (1)Obama undoubtedly at the urging of the Fed discouraged States from undertaking investigations and prosecution for bank frauds on behalf of consumers in favor of a settlement that would exempt banks from criminal liability and somehow reimburse injured consumers.As far as I know the deal does not include any substantial reform and does not include anything like "truth and reconciliation". As a board member of a bank regulatory agency for 10 years I understandthat a key function of Bank regulatory agencies is to maintain public confidence in the safety and soundness of banks. Corrections were undertaken discretely out of the public eye. But what happens when the very institutions charged with maintaining. a system worthy of trust and public confidence fails.? Does prsecution bring needed change? Are settlements with immunity from criminal liability justice? Does it bring abaout change?

(2) Although the Catholic Church World wide has struggled for decades with revelations and allegations of sexual abuse of parishioner children , a current effort by a reputable Human Rights Group to hold Pope Benedict to account in International Criminal Court could create a moral crisis throughout Christendom if the court were able to take the case ( which it may not be able to do) Is a public trial of a Pope the answer or is there greater public interest served by internal transformations that involve the public in a process of healing and restructuring?

Human Rights Watch has complained that the International Criminal Court ( established in 2002) has tended to avoid cases involving heads of state and government officials.

Mandela chose a course of moral correction and accountability over trials. When is that model the best course?

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Closing Statement from Lindsay Newland Bowker

When we think of criminal activity affecting thousands of people systematically and continuously over many years we normally think of the mafia or drug cartels. We don’t think of the largest Christian organization in the world. We don’t think of our banking system, our financial markets, our own central bank, our bank regulatory agencies. Our own governments.
These aren’t crimes of a single individual ,a few Bernie Madoffs, a few errant priests. These are systemic crimes that took collaboration, consensus, concealment throughout the financial system, throughout the church at all levels throughout the world....for years.
They are both crimes against humanity.both with global impacts.

I felt these two concurrent issues of how to pursue justice, where and how to apply available law, raised some very fundamental questions about what we have allowed law to become and how we allow law to selectively operate or not operate according to who the criminal is.These are both issues about us as global citizens..both the processes enabled by bank and market deregulation in 2000 and the many decades long scandal of child expoliation by preists have touched lives worldwide..touched people close to each us worldwide.

It seemed to me to be exactly the kind of issue TED Conversations was created for.

I am profoundly grateful for the global conversation we have had here at TED...for the sort of collaborative search for meaning and justice we have engaged on the workings of law in response to these two systemic global crimes..

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    Sep 18 2011: With respect for Luigi's and your opinion about law and justice I'm always wondering why everyone is occupied with victims and even more with perpetrators of criminal acts instead of looking to what it is such acts can tell us about how we organized our societies.
    In every - or most cases I can relate any crime to something within society or flaws in the common mindset that inevitably caused this to happen.
    If we look at it that way it becomes the source of knowledge on how to correct ourselves and the rules we live by.
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      Sep 18 2011: Frans yes..that's the big question and the big challenge exactlty.

      Mandela's process put the sytem of arpartheid itself on trial and helped create a momentum and path for reformation which included everyone (victims and perpetrators alike) in the rebuilding. I think, as you apparently do, that that is what is most important here.

      Any thoughts on what that could look like for the two cases at issue here, sytemic failures affecting millions. There seems to be consensus here that the whole truth has to be told as part of that process, at least I feel that. . How do we visit the truths of these two systemic failures together as a sociey? How do we have input to the reforms and corrections that are needed to redirect the operations and policies of these institutions to a place that deserves our trust and serves humanity? ( Obama's settlement, urged by Bernanke, absolves banks of all criminal liability , provides for no airing of the truth and no plan for reformation or role for us, we the people, in that process) Thanks again for your wisdom.
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        Sep 18 2011: Lindsay, a big question it is.
        It looks though that few people can look that way.
        They learned the habit to point at others with any offence they see which they need to change and take the blame on themselves first.

        Your example of "apartheid" is obvious yet it took years and a maxitude of pressure for the problem to be acknowledged by those involved. It has much to do with conditioning and acceptance. Even those we see as victims can sometimes judge their situation as normal.

        If I look at the two troubles you mentioned it can't be to difficult to see their origin yet to expose them immediate shows how radical a change must be to change all that.

        As for the church it was for centuries a safe haven for people with uncommon sexual feelings that couldn't function in the all difference condemning society. Their closeness within the brother-sisterhood weighed much more than society that they felt expelled from. Even if the majority had a true calling this group would form a subculture that explains for sexual misconduct.
        Both the abnormality of celibate and a bad education system within the Holy Church are the origin of a lot of suffering on both sides, victims and perpetrators.

        The origin of the other problem is as simple as it is deep rooted. Working with virtual value is legal robbery. The first bankers were capable with their tricks to ruin nobility and even kings. Rulers that themselves let people bleed for their wealth were now ruled by those bankers.
        The method is refined but not altered.
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      Sep 18 2011: Frans laws are from society conventions and applied also for the crimes commiters, justice is for preserve the peace and also for the victims. The peace could be inner peace, serenity, wisdom....
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        Sep 18 2011: To quote your words:"All the lawyers have to know that time in essential to fight against an institution that has the eternity in their side. Not to mentioned the very best lawyers among all. Jeff Anderson is a hero just to place the lawsuit. We all expect the results."

        When the institution who is supposed to speak for God and who is supposed to be more just than any other human institution chooses to defend the ravening wolves and let the sheep that it was charged with protecting bleed to death and face public rejections, name calling and condemnation justice is clearly NOT working. Jesus would not be washing these men's feet. He would be cleaning the wounds and healing the hurts of his babies.

        The expression in America goes that 'Elvis has left the building". I was only once in St. Peters and in the glory that is the Vatican. God must not live there any more if the people who are running his church with his sanction allow and defend such things or even just deflect blame. No conceptualization that I can live with allows me to believe that 'eternity is on their side."
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          Sep 18 2011: Debra, Lindsay, Luigi and Franz--

          My thoughts --

          God was never a big fan of ostentatious expressions by humans that seek to co-opt His/Her divine power in service to institutional powers over humans.

          S/he was, as you illustrate, a big fan of humane expressions of love. His/her power -- which can be measured by humans only in life -- is affirmed through seeing and attending the human-ness of others, wherever and whomever they are.

          This is when Gods power, which is love, can be expressed and encountered. And, when Her/his meaning for humans is communicated. Not through institutional structures, but through and with other human beings.

          Static institutions, at best, can help illuminate God's intent. But only humans can live up to its power, through actions of lived love.

          To bring this to Mandela, Mandela similarly symbolically and strategically rejected oppressive institutions, while symbolically and strategically embracing humans that were in relationship with the institutions and identified with the oppression institutions perpetrated.

          By engaging people in relational encounters "where they were at" (echoing God's methods), in humane expressions that bridged their human differences and them in co-dynamic solutions people in South Africa experienced the power of their attempts to live and progress together through their divisions.

          These strategies helped people understand the transformative power of diverse human (and thus messy) relationships as greater and more productive than institutionally isolated attempts at holding static power.

          In this way, Mandela enlisted stakeholders in their solutions.

          To invest their "diviner" powers in acts of love through relational restorations, which, though painful, catalyzed and propagated realization that life is improved when "loving" together helps all see and strengthen the ties between their "hidden humanity" -- the good, bad and ugly, which in turn, served as scaffolding for cultural strengths.

          Andrea
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          Sep 19 2011: Debra, respectfully, you are free to think and believe what you want. Or not. Is your choice. We dont aprove the scandals that you all consider in this topic.
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        Sep 18 2011: I hope I interpret your intent and position correctly in summarizing with something someone once said we all need: 'God with skin on.' In other words the spirit of God funnelled through human beings.

        You might see that I long to believe and struggle with the realities of what I see. I do get weary in well doing -there are so many who are hurting. If I somehow overstepped or offended please forgive my excesses in my passionate struggle for truth.
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          Sep 18 2011: Debra --

          Yes, you've nicely (and less verbosely) encapsulated my thoughts. And your so-called "excesses" need no forgiveness in my book.

          My mom once said something like: "There are far greater crimes than passionate love."

          You echo the passions of our most humane leaders. This ability to feel can be potent fuel for transformation. The challenge as Jesus, Mandela, Ghandi, et al knew too well, was to convert ones experience of suffering (by self or others) into larger expressions of healing.

          Healing, as suffering, is never straightforward. But while suffering can lead to "straight-line" destruction if it is perseverated in isolation, Healing, by contrast, benefits from much, much inter-relational attention, which can foment contagions of energy for progress.

          These relationships can fuel shared passions for change through shared experience. So while some hold the candle of hope one day, while others might temporarily succumb to all the sadness, the passions still remain so long as the relational focuses do. So the next day while the "light-bearers" reflect of the darkness, those who've spent their moments in despair can take over for a while.

          The more the hopeful focus is spread, the more passions for active progress can be fueled. And, thus, despairs seem less dark -- and indeed, hope prevails.

          Translation: I'm glad for your passions -- they help fuel mine.

          And, I hope we can support some real solutions for the important considerations Lindsay brings to mind for our co-reflection.

          Andrea
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        Sep 18 2011: Luigi
        I already agreed with your observation but my point was another one.
        I didn't think you have a Catholic blind spot.
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          Sep 19 2011: Frans I didnt have that....I can see accurately a lot of things, maybe others not so much, but your posts already help me to see trough. Inside the Vatican walls we have a diverse and very rich perspective that could be nurtured with the point from outside. Thank you very much. Believe me , we took care of the victims and provide justice for them.

          (Maybe I missunderstood some of your expression)
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        Sep 18 2011: Dear Andrea, wise, gracious and kind! You are a formidable woman and Lindsay is doing important work in sensitizing and motivating us.
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        Sep 19 2011: Dear Luigi, I am absolutely certain that you did not approve of the scandals. You called Jeff Anderson an hero so obviously you are on the side of the angels. I am absolutely sorry that my writings can be interpreted to be blaming you or connecting you with it in anyway. I am simply upset by the ruined lives and the reactions of those in authority. If the company i work for were involved in a scandal, I would hope that you would not hold me personally responsible for things over which I have no control. Please forgive me if I offended you. I would never want to do that.
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          Sep 19 2011: Debra carissima you never offended me.
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    Sep 17 2011: Carissima Lindsay...ciao, tanto piacere ....... we have to rmember that law and Justice are two different things, not always related in all cases. The law is a particular statement from a culture. The Justice is an Universal principle that could be expressed in many ways trough the time and history. Justice as principle is first over any law. Has the preeminence over the law statments that are inside and limited by the time and culture boundaries. In the two cases that you exposed works the same status from Justice and law. In the Justice History theres a lot of examples to be studied beyond our personal opinions and ignorances to see clearly how the culture affects the aplication of the law in diverse nations, traditions or cultures. The law is a tipical statement from the civilizations, and the Justice is a cultural and philsophical principle with the foundational strenght to be considerer as a key stone. Justice never change but the law is always in transformation. We have to see if we want to change or to transform the existent laws but not the Justice.
    • Sep 17 2011: Luigi,

      You did not address the question.

      I will copy and paste a statement I made earlier. Please give your opinions on it.

      "The Catholic Church, in my opinion is shamed for eternity for crimes against humanity stretching over 1000's of years. The list of offenses is too long to mention now...But on the topic of the rape and torture of orphans and children by Catholic institutions in almost every country of the world and the subsequent denial and cover up these offenses and protection of known offenders, my answer is yes, the Pope should be put on trial in an international court of law or at least by an American court as soon as he sets foot on American soil. I also feel that global sanctions against the Vatican should be put in place until this happens, as the Pope is the head of state as well. Does religion get a free pass to rape? "
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        Sep 17 2011: Jason I very aware of the question. I prefer to express my point of view, my opinion are usless.

        Of course you are right and we all know (myself as a member of the catholic church) that we cannot denied or accept the crimes, any crimes against the humanity or individuals, specially rape or violence on childrens, anywhere, not just in the institutions.

        I invited to you to search more accurattely, not just from the press releases or the vulgar opinions, to be well informed about this very urgent topic. When you clame about the Catholic church you are focussed in one human institution. We, inside the Eclessia are very angry with this abuse, and in some cases historical abuse, that we accepted as a fact that has to be punished without any delay or complaint.Theres no any justification to pospone the Justice and the aplicattion of the law.
        • Sep 17 2011: Your compare and contrast of Justice vs Law is a good one. Let's explore this as it relates to the abuse (I do not like calling it that as it detracts from the seriousness of the crimes---it was rape in many cases) of children by members of the catholic elite and how it was dealt with by Ratzinger, who at the time was in charge of the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith"---The very department of the Vatican responsible for dealing with crimes committed within the Church---Including the rape of children by priests.

          How many times did Ratzinger ensure that all parties involved were sworn to secrecy and moved the offending priest to another congregation only to rape again? Is this Justice? What about concealing the information from the police? Is that justice? How many known rapists in the system were defrocked? How many weren't? Is that justice? In my view, this Pope not only ensured that justice was not found, but directly contributed to the actual offenses by knowingly doing nothing to stop them and covering up each offense. How many known rapists are protected within the walls of the Vatican to this day?---even one is too many. These crimes must be acknowledged and brought to justice. Pleading for forgiveness from God is not justice by any account.

          As far as searching more accurately for information on this topic...How do you have any idea how much information I have? Maybe it is you who need to search more accurately to be informed about this very urgent topic? Maybe you have all of the information that you need, but choose to view it through a very different lens than I do?
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          Sep 18 2011: @jason to Luigi "comparison of Justice & Law a good one)

          The facts are the facts and the truth is the truth..but how these truths are told before the world so all who were injured can hear and know they were spoken for..that society does not allow and will not tolerate what happened to the victims.also seems important to me especially where the victims ( if we include collateral damage) number in the millions. It seems to me that the way we bring these truths out must account for and be mindful of cutural and societal impoacts and the need to re estabkish trust in th these shamefully shattered instiutions whos operations literally shape the lives of millions.

          What is served for the victims, for those who have suffered gravely as these truths have emerged and been adjudicated in family parishes all around the world, for reformation of the catholic church, for holding the church more mindfully accountable in its very structure and operation to civil and criminal law in the nations and communities it serves around the world.

          What if the pope stood up this morning before the world and acknolwdeged all these truths,,confessed them before all humanity accompanied by a huge fat document of particulars that includes each and every victim, each and every priest and person in the chain of authrotiy who intentionally hid the truth. What if this morning the Pope opened a process of reformation and reconstruction that included laity all over the world? Some kind of Manela style truth and reconciliation intiated by the Pope himself.?

          In your opinion, would it still be important to press this suit forward and try to get its existence and it purpose before all the world? And if so, why? What does it accomplish? What is the goal? Why is this an important way to confront these truths?

          Thnak you for your further thoughts, Jason.
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          Sep 18 2011: @ Jason referece to Ratzinger

          By way of clarification to readers who may not know Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI are one in the same person.:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ratzinger_as_Prefect_of_the_Congregation_for_the_Doctrine_of_the_Faith

          Here is a quote from the wikipedia above which provides further background to Jason's comment and also sheds some light on circumstances and history that lead up to the effort to hold Ratzinger, now Pope Bendict XVI accountable to humanity and law via the International Criinal Court..
          As Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the sexual abuse of minors by priests was his responsibility to investigate from 2001, when that charge was given to the CDF by Pope John Paul II.[5] Before given this charge, Cardinal Ratzinger was theoretically privy to all sexual abuse cases within the Church. As Prefect of the CDF, Canon Law directed Bishops to report sexual abuse cases involving priests in their diocese to Cardinal Ratzinger. However, due to the obscurity of Canon Law, even within the Church, it is unknown whether this directive was actually followed.
          As part of the implementation of the norms enacted and promulgated on April 30, 2001 by Pope John Paul II,[6] on May 18, 2001 Ratzinger sent a letter to every bishop in the Catholic Church.[7] [8] . reminding them of the strict penalties facing those who revealed confidential details concerning enquiries into allegations against priests of certain grave ecclesiastical crimes, including sexual abuse, which were reserved to the jurisdiction of the Congregation. The letter extended the prescription or statute of limitations for these crimes to ten years. However, when the crime is sexual abuse of a minor, the "prescription begins to run from the day on that which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age."[

          So much for truth and reconciltaion in lieu of court?
        • Sep 18 2011: Lindsay,

          Here are a couple real life examples of what I mentioned.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/17/tony-walsh-ireland-pedoph_n_798268.html

          http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html

          I had a friend in High school who just vanished one day. He wasn't one of my closest friends, but he was in my classes and we talked often, although he was quite introverted.. He never told me or anyone else that he was moving away. I asked the teachers what happened to him and they would not tell me. It wasn't until years later that I found out he had been raped by his pedophile priest for years and that his family decided to move far away to try to escape the priest and the wrath of some of the members of their particular Catholic church when the truth finally came out. To my knowledge, the priest was moved to another church and continued to be a "man of the cloth". This experience is one of the major factors that shaped helped shape my views on organized religion.

          Whether one believes in "God" or not, no one can assume to know what God thinks or how God would want them to react to certain situations. If the Bible is our only evidence of God's record, the Old Testament would imply that God would want us to remove this evil by the most ultimate means available. The best we as humans can do is strive for solidarity and compassion toward our fellow brothers and sisters and in my opinion our children are the most precious of all. To worry more about the public perception of the Church than well being of children is one of the most evil acts I have ever witnessed. In my opinion, the only way the Church can regain any respect is to cleanse itself of its demons and not only promise complete transparency in the future, but deliver on that promise as well.

          I also feel the need to mention to those who may not know that there are plenty of cases of priests abusing nuns as well which were met with little or no resistance from the Vatican.
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          Sep 19 2011: @ jason Real LIfe ExamplesThose two posts are very hard to read and integrate:.overwhelming .dispriting..paralysing.

          It's important to stay open and not to hide from these truths..not to turn away or invent some narrative simply beacuse we feel so powerless as individuals to do or say anything strong enough to heal what we witness. My practice is to always give a blessing..to hold the suffering I witness in light and to stand unflinching as witness even when I can do nothing to change what I see.

          But building more of that record here doesn't take us any closer to the question of truth, reconciliation and reformation. How do we do that with these two powerful, well healed, well insulated, autonomous entities.Luigi seems to be gently telling us what we already suspect which is that the Vatican has the resources to duck the accountability part of this forever..to out wait the tolling of the staute of limitations on every. single child known to have been abused. We are asked as we are with the banks to simply trust. In this case that each and every child has in private somehow been made whole..just to accept that on faith

          .Even though I believe the Mandela truth and reconcilitaion model is what serves humanity best, and even though Jeff Andersons efforts to hold what happened up before the world for what it is may fail as far as reaching a real case on International Criminal Court, maybe that's all we have available to us right now to keep the light on this , to stand with the victims and with Anderson in not letting the light on this go out until the church has acknowldeged its duty to honor the laws of society, especially those protecting children

          It is important to note that cases brought before appropriate courts have not escaped accountability to law. The process of adjudication and judgements under law has virtually bankrupted many dioceses and forced the closing and consolidation of churches. So the law has triumphed without vatican cooperation..
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      Sep 17 2011: Luigi,

      Thanks for your post..nice to see you again..the point you make and the distinction you make beween law and justice is right at the heart of what was troubling my soul about these two issues. ( They are of course not the same..our relationship to a spiritual leader or to the church as an instiution involves very different parts of ourselves to our relationship as ordinary national citizens with our banks and their regulators .

      Yes, laws are a cultural expression..and I would add..almost always an imperfect and ineffective attempt to secure or prevent something we value as a culture at a moment in time..and justice, like truth is eternal .

      As the Law is not always the servant of justice, prosecution doesn't always bring justice and as Andrea says so beautifully, when the prosecution is for acts that have hurt so many so deeply, prosecution may draw on things within us that take us further from healing. Anger, bitterness and revenge are not the fruits of true justice.

      Many victims ( families of murder victims, rape survivors etc,) find peace and healing in helping other victims not in the villification, himiliation and harsh punishment of the perpetrators) Their own suffereing is redeemed , their own peace and healing comes through service to other victims.

      In both the incidents that troubled my soul, my concern was exactly at the place you and Andrea point to..staying connected to the humanity within us.as well as the risk of further unintended and unexpected harm.

      Warmest regards and many thanks again for your wisdom.

      Lindsay
  • Sep 19 2011: This is a most fascinating discussion. Some of my very favorite TED people are involved.

    Whether one judges by Canon Law or Civil Law, the actions of certain priests in the rape and sexual abuse of children is a crime. They are individually accountable to both Canon and Civil Law for their punishment. It should be swift and decisive. It should include appropriate punishment by both. Yes, thank goodness there is forgiveness and restoration, perhaps not to priesthood, but as human beings. I believe God's grace is there for anyone.

    The Roman Catholic Church as an institution, however is also accountable for allowing the individuals to escape punishment and even for covering up the crimes. While I personally do not see how a trial of the Pope would work to resolve this problem, the Roman Church must bear the responsibility for the actions of all people involved in the scandal. The Roman Church cannot hide behind Canon Law to resolve this. They are directly accountable to Civil Law in all cases in all countries, in all situations. (Ok, I will admit this has been an "open question" since about the 10th century, but, good grief, this is the 21st century, not the 10th.)

    The banking system, and its institutions are also legally accountable. Unfortunately in the US legal system, deals are struck every day to reduce either punishment or guilt based upon "negotiations." But whether a deal has been reached or not, people in those institutions and the institutions are still morally and legally accountable. As Luigi has said, "justice and law" may be two different things, but they are not totally separated either.

    While moral correction or the path of Mandela might serve in some instances, in these instances, specifically, more is needed. What we need is the tribunal of moral correction in our society, not just in those institutions society creates. That kind of reflection would perhaps change how people actually perceive right and wrong.
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      Sep 19 2011: Hi Michael ..welcome..nice to see you and it is a perfect place in this conversation to make the distinctions you have made, in partaicular your distinction between criminal and civil law. and to cosnider "accountability"

      (1) Criminal Law is the exclusive domain of the state. Once a victim reports a crime, it is the state (nation, state, municpality etc.) that determines the course of that trial. Both the actions contemplated by the Attorney's general and the prosecution of the Pope in International Criminal Court are about crimes. No one is above criminal law.. . Only "the state" can grant immunity from criminal liability as is contemplated in Obama's seetlement plan with banks. Criminal law dispenses only penalties..not victim cmpensation.

      (2) Civil law is the domain of aggrieved individuals and only that individual can make a settlement. It;s a separate process and it is through that civil process the victim is compensated. Obamas Settlement plan anticipates a settlement for the benefit of consumers, still gives consumers a right to prusue civil actions but grants criminal immunity. Any settlements made voluntarily or through the courts are in the context of civil law. An individual can agree to release an entity from all future claims for damages but can't indemnify against criminal actions. So the state can still sue individulas under criminal law.

      (3) accountability and privacy are separate considerations. The scope and nature of that accountability is set by statute. So the Church, like each of us as citizens, as no accountablility to the public except as set by law. Everythings else falls in the realm of privavcy and rights to privavcy. Corporations, including churches as well as each of us as individuals, have a right to privacy and of scourse everyone including the church wants to safeguard reputation and image. Settlement and attending confidendiality agreements are standard and perfectly acceptable.
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      Sep 19 2011: Michael -

      I second your call for a tribal correction system of sorts that transcend institutionalized systems.

      This worked to great effect for First Nation groups in America, at least until Europeans brought institutionalized systems of religious and government mediated laws. Some still use them, with good effect.

      I've been looking at the Iroquios Confederacy methods of participatory democracy. They informed the US Constitution. The Natives approach and delivery was quite integral -- and, most important, sustainable. This is a "collective culture" approach that marries contextual nuances with static, but universal, laws.

      Most important it engages all of the society in conscious roles at a common ethics, not moral or legal interpretations level.

      Andrea
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    Sep 18 2011: This article gives a little more Background on Jeff Anderson, referenced by Luigi and Andrea in their comments and a key figure in the attempt to hold the vatican legally accuntable:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/03/29/spotlight-on-jeff-anderson-the-man-taking-on-the-vatican/

    It appears that the Vatican may have more or less invited recourse to the International Criinal Court by claiming immunity from Prosecution in the U.S. to a Milwaulkee case Jeff Anderson is key prosecutor in.
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      Sep 18 2011: Lindsay --

      Anderson is interesting.

      While he is a hero for the cause of Catholics wounded by the Catholic hierarchies, and does not practice formal religion, Anderson embraces sincere religious expression.

      An example very loosely related to Luigi's interests and work:
      Several years ago I interviewed Anderson for an article for a local magazine. And queried him regards his collection of religious art. I thought perhaps it represented some little bitter joke he harbored. And Qd him pretty closely on the potential irony. Which it doesn't appear to be in the least.

      If anything, the collection, in my "hear" of his response, serves as a representation of the beauty of Christian belief in its most idealized forms. If not a personal inspiration of pieces that speak to Anderson's own spirituality.

      Here is a snippet from the piece regards how Anderson was originally drawn to the preservation of religious artifacts. (While in Portland, Oregon.)

      "Jogging through the city late one night, Anderson caught a glimpse of an altarpiece in an antiques shop window. Stopping to study the 12-foot by 10-foot depiction of angels, Anderson was transfixed. Before long it was on an onion truck, headed to Minnesota. “I didn’t really know where I’d put it,” says Anderson. “I just knew it was special.”

      Perhaps the encounter was providential.

      In any case, Anderson seemed quite sincere in his passion for it and other pieces in his collection -- though he has never made any attempt to value it. Which he shares with visitors to a Bed and Breakfast he and his wife own. With this particular piece covering an entire wall in the Inns dining room.

      So, this is a way that Anderson, in his own private life, but in another (though less) public way, echoes the and parallels the purer ecclesiastical "bigger picture" of his and others holiest work and most humane intentions.

      Andrea
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        Sep 18 2011: Andrea,

        Thanks for that personal sharing of your own experience with Jeff Anderson. Reading the above link again and focusing on his quotes there it is clear that his is a cause of the heart and that he truly believes that the culture of the church has not been changed by all these law suits and revelations and that the needed change must come from Rome itself. He sees it a systemic institutinal failure

        .Now that I understand more about Pope Benedict's long term connection, actual leadership, in the church's closed door response to the outside world's insistence on accountability to these children, that Benedict was Ratzinger..the orchestrator of the vatican's policy of obfuscation I am not seeing how the Truth and Reconciliation process could ever come into play as a response from the church.

        Maybe as you say in your insightful observations on the dynamics of Mandela's process..the truth and reconcilitaion part has to be the work of those affected by the institution's wrongdoing..but then how does the change and reformation of the institution itself come about?

        Although I think it has no chance of succeding due to legal technicalities, in this case, given the leadership's direct involvement, the only recourse may very well be an international trial for crimes against humanity. Where else is the force for the needed reformation?It did not occur to me at at the time I framed this questions,but there are many parallels between the vatican and the banking & monetary system. They both enjoy such an insulation from accountability to the world outside the institution and they are both able to draw an almost impenetrable cloud of secrecy around their activities. How could the truth and reconciliation process be brought to bear with either of these instiutions with any hope of fundamental change in the institutions themselves?
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          Sep 19 2011: Wow! There is some powerful stuff being written here in answer to these questions. I had no idea that Pope Benedict was involved in the policies of obfuscation and it demoralizes me to know it.

          As to your point about crimes against humanity, I do think it is time that we began to use that definition more and more to get our world on track. There are things being done systematically and purposefully to our family of human beings that may only have a chance of being harnessed, stopped and prevented by using the international courts this way. We need a David to stop the mockery and tyranny of the Goliaths. Could this be it?

          Addition: I think it is key to remember that Mandela was able to effect what he did in reconciliation because he brought in an complete change of regime.
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          Sep 19 2011: LIndsay, Debra --

          The truth and reconciliation Mandela achieved involved regime change, yes. And only occurred after he became president and used his position to reach out to his "enemies," via the very populist venues of soccer and rugby.

          But it is important to understand that leadership transitions were fermented by a much larger movement of diverse, mostly non-elite citizens that began and persisted for decades after the fledgling African National Committee was founded, Even, of course, while Mandela was imprisoned.

          Mandela is/was a David. But the Goliath of oppression in South Africa (as it in the Catholic Church, etc.) was/is a moving target. Thus, living, sustained iterations of such movements embodied and acted upon by many were what kept the ANC's efforts alive. As they still do today.

          An interesting connection is that ANC officials were not allowed into the US without White House permission until July 2008. (Except for visits to United Nations in New York.) The timing of this is notable in my mind, coming as it did just before the election Barack Obama.

          So there is a dialogic, dimensional and many-layered kinetic effect that must be catalyzed, nurtured and responsive to circumstances, environments and vernaculars.

          To wind this all back to the Catholic church, and its cycles. The current Pope's predecessor was recently beatified by the Church for his humanitarian leadership. He was the Pope who permitted pro-victim responses to sex abuses. And is credited for transforming religious freedom in Cuba, among other places.

          In this case, The isolated country was oppressed by Fidel Castro's communist regime, which forbade religious expression. Neither citizen protest, economic embargoes, military or international systems seemed to phase Castro's control of religion.

          What did was a personal, private visit from then-pontiff John Paul II. Whose humble but holy presence so impressed Castro, he reversed his anti-religious policy.

          Andrea
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          Sep 19 2011: This is the logical and heart trap that we can all fall into but it is a non sequitur. Of course we can point to the good that was done in the life of the previous Pope. That was his job after all. Without really meaning to be inflammatory we could probably point to good works that were done by dictators, thugs and Mafia bosses. In fact we can talk about the good that Castro has done in terms of medical services and science education in Cuba.
          However, the issue is that crimes were committed, facilitated and covered up and the legacy of those knowing actions continues today. That speaks to one definition of crime which is criminal intent. When the so called church cares more for the hierarchy than for the people (perfect parallel with the banking system) it has lost all moral authority and has switched camps. It is no longer on the side of the angels and of the people.
          Madela is exactly a David in this context. He is the one infused with the right spirit. He is the one who holds back his hand when he could wield the power to take revenge and finds a better way. So how do we take the lessons that Andrea is pointing to and work to become the equivalent of the ANC in our time and in these issues?
        • Sep 19 2011: Lindsay
          I want to try to derive a more total answer to your question. Yes, there are definitely parallels in those two institutions. Everyone is accountable for their actions. No one is above the law. It is that question of accountability and how some institutions manage it seems to not be, that makes this question fascinating.
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        Sep 19 2011: @Andrea..truth and reconcilitaion involved regime change.

        .Yes, important point that Mandela undertook the truth and reconciliation process as Presdent in the conrext of regime chnage and against a backdrop of many many years of struggle for freedom from oppression

        .So in the absence of that leadership from the Vatican, the Vatican itself precludes truth and reconciliation as an altermative to prosecution?

        In your conversation on Facts ( politicians playing fast and loose with facts) someone mentioned the importance of context in interpreting facts..understanding their meaning. Ratzinger's principal mission before becoming Pope Bendict XVI was to repress/eradicate liberation theology. Here is a quote from a paper Ratzinger wrote in 2004

        :"Since, according to this view, there are, and can only be, two options, any objection to this interpretation of the Bible is an expression of the ruling class's determination to hold on to its power. A well-known liberation theologian asserts: "The class struggle is a fact; neutrality on this point is simply impossible."This approach also takes the ground from under the feet of the Church's teaching office: if she were to intervene and proceed against such an interpretation of Christianity, she would only prove that she is on the side of the rich and the rulers and against the poor and suffering, i.e., against Jesus himself: she would show that she had taken the negative side in the dialectic of history."http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/ratzinger/liberationtheol.htm

        So the context of in which the debate and stuiggle for Vatican accountability to law is ocurring in the context of a leadership that seeks to reassert the church's authority and control and to re center on traditional teachings.

        PS Perhaps I am overly sensitive to the invisible and almost total control over each of us by the plutonomy..the ruling non elected power elite but it is hard for me not to notice its centrality in his awareness .
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          Sep 19 2011: I am not sure how much more clearly the position of the Catholic church could be stated. It is for us to decide whether we will hear these statements and react accordingly. Most of us, have tried to always give the benefit of the doubt to the church, in the hopes that they were on the side of the divine or that they just stumbled and need the opportunity to recover.

          With evidence like the quotes above, we are clearly long past that belief. It could not be more clear. The major mandate of the bible itself in the New Testament is to care for the sheep and to love one another. While there are lines about evangelism they are dwarfed in number when compared to Christ's own direction to care for the poor and downtrodden. We are no longer dealing with an organization with any sort of moral high ground. They have and continue to choose to stand against the very people that the religion was founded on and for. The 'church' the body of Christ is not and never was a collection of buildings or men in robes.
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          Sep 19 2011: Lindsay --

          I think the answer lies in something of quantum view of civil intent, not only polar truths managed by institutional means, but as the illumination of the truths in the living spaces and of people who are stakeholders of the law.

          My view is stakeholders must be seen and see themselves as stewards of truth. And ideally that institutions would illuminate and empower stakeholders as such.

          This is not likely in the Catholic church, though it is certainly the high-level ideal of President Obama. Whether his admin alone can deliver it, remains a Q.

          A cross-partisan movement I've been involved with called We the People has done some development of such models, including through engaging colleges and universities with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. White House staff, fundamentalist faith leaders, business people, academics, students and others have participated in dialogues.

          Here is video of the launch development and engagement event at which bipartisan leaders and citizens were enlisted as founders: http://vimeo.com/19585381

          Harry Boyte's comments outline the focus and scope, which includes build up to the 2012 US presidential elections.

          I expect We The People will come up in dialogues with Elinor Ostrom (the 2009 Nobel Prize Winner) in economics in the next few weeks as colleagues have engaged her. And your discussion will be much on my mind when I attend a master class with Ostrom.

          Andrea
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    Sep 29 2011: The delay in implementation of the Dodd-Frank bill passed last year, is another example of Wall Street being above the law. The Dodd-Frank bill is addressed to the corrections to trading markets which would curb the kind of speculation that lead to market collapse in 2008.

    Although it is law, republicans and the SEC have blocked its implementtaion hoping to take the presidency and repeal it.

    As explained in this excellent piece at Real News,faiilure to pass the Dodd-Frank bill has consumers world wide locked into artificailly high prices for all goods and services through the artificially high price of oil

    .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHEYi4W0OeQ&NR=1

    This is the reality of of being global citizens. What happens or doesnt happen in our central bank in our commoditities and other wall street markets, what happens in our legislative and regulatory structure literally shapes the price of goods and services world wide.Implementtaion of Dodd-Frank would have an immediate effect on oil prices globally and therfore on the prices of all goods and services globally..
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    Sep 25 2011: Hi Lindsay, Did you see this TEDx talk that came to my email box this morning? It deals with moral judgements and might be quite germane to the discussion we are having.

    http://youtu.be/r6D3PNuh7ko
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    Sep 23 2011: Lindsay,

    Here's what Paul Krugman has to say that relates:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/opinion/krugman-the-social-contract.html?ref=opinion

    Andrea
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      Sep 24 2011: I am beginning to look to Paul Krugman ..he catches all the moments where history creates a platform to tell an important truth..to get the message out. And he is right, the back drop to the mortgage crisis, the dereregulation that unleashed it and the inequitable workings of justice in making whole those who were damaged has been unfolding since the mid to late 70's.: We didn;t even notice



      " between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

      Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million".


      And now I hear the president starting to say publicly that not evryone can or should own a home..That only 50% of households should own..that renting keeps the labor market flexible and resilient..Is that why the sttlement for homeowners our prsident is asking u sto accept is so small only $30 billion , in comparison to the hundreds of billions the government and other financial instiutions are seeking ? That only those in the right 50% will be saved and have ther loans recast and their principal written down?
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      Sep 24 2011: Yes, I may give Krugman a thumbs up in print on my question before it closes. (Please let me know who else I should mention within the next 4 hours or so, if you have the chance.)
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    Sep 23 2011: Cara Lindsay, always the same human drama: Sex, lies,money, greed, ego, robery, hoax, fraud, death, crime, laws, victims.....the circumstances are different in history but the drama is the same.
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      Sep 24 2011: yes, but there is always the light and the rising up and the liberation from oppression,,the reformation, the evolution
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        Sep 24 2011: Yes!
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        Sep 24 2011: Lindsay and Debra...Yes....but...

        Hope has to be supported by experience. The hope is nice feeling but we humans have to transform in real action trough the experience.
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          Sep 25 2011: Yes, Father Luigi,,it is actions that bring change; actions which makes corrections.

          I don't see any emerging grass roots activisim..nothing of the scale globally that ended apartheid; nothing of the scale that ended the viteneamese war here, or that brought our civil rights legislation.

          The awakening to action isn't happening.
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        Sep 25 2011: Lindsa let me tell you about some strategies used by the power & money people to desactivate the hope and the action that we cannot see yet.
        1. Dissambled the lenguage. Nobody learn and understand the same. Knowledge is subverted by supositions and opinions.
        2. Fear. In all the possibe manners, but the first one is fear to be alone.
        3. Famine. The disguise of hunger is the junk food consumed by almost all the world.
        4. Entertainement. Spend the time in nothing but spectacles or screens.
        5. Credulity. Take almost all as a valid perspective without crithical thinking.
        6. As a sum of all, the "sense of autonomy for each individual in despite of the real community.
        7. The exhibition of the possible enemies by the foundation of any sort of NGO s.
        8. The exaltation of the ego by the false truths about individualism. Selfeestim by example.
        9.The social division achieved by the "differences rights" or Human rights.

        As you can see is possible the identification of this strategies in many forms.
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    Sep 23 2011: Another interesting example of who is above the law..or how the law often doesn't serve justice is the stonewalling of Solyndra exceutives before congress this morning. They used olitial influence to get their $500 million in loan guarantees and now that they have gone belly up ..they are refusng to answer any questions..takaing the fifth. Yes the law grants that..yes that's part of our freedom..but when we have put the people and $ ( this was only a loan guantee not a loan but now we are on the hook because they failed)..shouldn't we expect full accoutability to the people? Shouldn't it be required that you can't take the fifth when the people, via our elected officials, are asking what went wrong..how we came to be responsble for their $500 million screw up?
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    Sep 22 2011: This article from Forbes, posted yesterday afternoon at their web site describes an $8.5 billion settlement between Bank of America, owner of the notorious Countrywide Mortgage Co. at the heart of the scandal and 22 large investors ( not all investors, just the large ones)

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2011/09/21/federal-judge-hears-arguments-about-bank-of-americas-8-5-billion-settlement/

    A few weeks ago news broke of a huge $196 billion law suit against 17 banks for losses to Fannie Mae and FHA who insured the bulk of thes mortgages:The Federal Housing Finance Agency has sued 17 large banks for $196 billion

    .http://theglobalawakening.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/criminal-banks-federal-housing-finance-agency-files-a-196-billion-lawsuit-against-17-banks

    /".. this shockingly huge $196 billion lawsuit just filed against 17 major banks on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bank of America is severely exposed in this lawsuit. As the parent company of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch they are on the hook for $57.4 billion. JP Morgan is next in the line of fire with $33 billion. And many death spiraling European banks are facing billions in losses as well".

    Only those consumers who have been foreclosed ( on fraudulaent loans) received any "benefit" of you can call it that. This $196 billion on behalf of the federal agencies who insured these loans doesn't include the damagesunder law consumers have suffered and are suffering paying unconsionable rates on these criminal loans. Presidents' plan offers only $30 billion in relief to consumers in the form of refinancing or alteringthe terms of loans ( eg reducing principal) with complete indemnity from all further criminal prosecution by anyone.

    Doesn't the difference in size of these law suits suggest that is way too little for homeowners?. Is this equality under law?
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      Sep 24 2011: What an astounding and unconscionable decision it is that is made over and over again to give back the money of the big investors and hang the little ones out to dry. The saddest thing is that we all seem to accept it so easily. If you were apportioning something out, whose conscience could allow those without need to be given more while leaving the needy at the end with nothing? I guess this demonstrates why the judges cannot be trusted to make these decisions.

      Thanks Lindsay for being my favourite new investigative reporter!
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    Sep 21 2011: I am sorry if this is off topic, but i hope it augments. I have been fascinated by Ngrams (see Sabin;s question)

    Here is a diagram of the uses of 'we the people' in contrast to the uses of 'propaganda" It may not mean anything but to me it is interesting and I would like to see them far more equal.

    OOOPs! forgot to add the link:

    http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=we+the+people%2C+propaganda&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3
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    Sep 21 2011: Here are two Charlie Rose interviews which may contribute to this discussion.

    The first was posted by Kevin Hernandez on another TED question:
    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11804

    The second was sent to me by Michael M.
    It is a Charlie Rose interview with Nassim Taleb on economics.
    If you are interested please follow this link:

    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11516
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      Sep 21 2011: Thanks for these..both excellent. I like David Brooks phrase " a political system not capable of bearing that right now" which in effect comes back to us, "we the people", and to the issue of complicity..and also draws in your inquiry on balanced journalism and Andrea's on Facts. Essentially Brooks is syaing that no one in office dares to tell the truth because rhe electorate..we the people have been sold and totally are wedded to a different and erroneous set of assumptions. So how do we the people to move to a point of understanding "the bottom line" enough that what is realy needed can actually begin to happen?Certainly that happens here at TeED when we explore these issues and spread these high qulaity links where we can learn but how does that get broadly disseminated how does it get to be undersrood. We can't take back the law and redirect its focus from the few to all of us until we understand that the law itself has been hijacked..( as it was in the case of the dergulatin of bank that Clinto actually signed into law as he was exiting the white house)I also like the reassurance of both Brooks and Krugman that there is no imminenet crisis with our debt..our ability to borrow but the "dark side" of that god news points to an issue you mentioned recently..manipulation of e public by fear. The more afraid we are the more wiling we are to give up freedoms..to give up control to others for "protection", and by extesion, the less likely we are to "rise up" and take back control. The more likely it is we will be frightened into rusting for instance that $30 billion is fair stellement for 100's of billion in damages..that we have no choice but to settle, exempt the banks from cirminal liabiity and move forward.Maybe we do need to think about what's stalling us out as "fear" and not disenfrachisement.Truth in sound bites at least doesn't seem to penetrate that fear. What does?
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    Sep 21 2011: To Those Just joining and the many wonderful contrbutors already here:

    The two examples given to explore how things get to be above or beyond te law have been a ladder that has brought us up above these two issues to a broader cultural consideration of how this happened and more particularly what role "we the people " play. ( see Marks and Andreas and my most recent comments below on complicity). In some wasy it takes us to an extension of or several earilier conversations on dircet democracy and the power of the interernet to facilitate that.

    It takes us to new questions and new explorations here.

    (1) In the case of the mortage scandal, the law itself was hi jacked to serve global interests that compromised or at least failed to leave in place a legal structre that had offered more consumer protections, more oversight, a separation of banking and speculation, more direct sense of purpose heared to national economic interest..iei the broaderr interests..not the plutonomy.(the ruling global non elected elite)

    (a) were "we the people" complicit in allowing this to happen? Did we enjoy the apparently free lunch that let us buy more, have more, cash out the equity in our homes and just nnot consider the question "at what cost down the line?"

    (b) are "we the people" now willing and able to play a rol ein bringing the law back into alinement with the need to rebuild our own nation, to serve us and not the plutonimy while maintaining and recognizing our place as a nation in a global economy.?


    2 is there a take home lesson here for newly emerging democracies on what happens after a constitutions..how law and th eoperation of national government stays accuntable to "we the peope"?

    3.Is it too late for "we the people " in the U.S. to "take back the law" that allowed all this to happen or do we now have no choice but to wait out whatever it takes to keep being able to borrow right now to meet ongoing obligations..to effectively use credit to paythe light bill?
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    Sep 20 2011: Michael --

    Thank you for naming the elephant in the room. Our own complicity. There are two things I believe need addressing regards complicity:

    1. Our active participation in the problem (which is easy, with immediate feedback to senses)
    2. Our lack of participation in the solution (not easy, with little feedback to primary senses)

    Two essays that get at this somewhat --
    http://dynamicshift.org/archives/from-bipartisan-blame-to-civilized-change
    http://dynamicshift.org/archives/civilized-compassion-not-detached-attached

    Andrea
    • Sep 20 2011: Andrea
      Yes, complicity...from the top down.

      Mind you I am not a back to the 19th century type. It isnt about just living more simply. But we do have to recognize how involved or (not) we were in letting a system get so awry.

      I will try to read those essays. Thank you.
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    Sep 19 2011: An interesting analysis of The Obama settlement plan at a blog called Cororate Jsutice suggesting that the $20 or $30 billion settlement amount doesn't begin to represent fair compensation citing as an example pension fund losses in Flroida in excess of $60 billion as a result of investments in these fraudulent mortgages. This blogger concludes that the bill really serves the interests of the banks nore than the interests of aggrieved consumers giving them fiscal closure and a finite loss amount which will remove uncertainty about inknown liabilities from their balalnce sheets

    .http://corporatejusticeblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/settling-with-big-banks.htm

    lInterestingly as we are also considering the church scandal, this araticle cites a Rolling Stone article in which Taibbi called the Obama setllement plan a massive "pap dispensation".

    Overall the analysis at this blog supports the NY Attorney General in his refusal to agree to this settlement. (Again though, the bill only grants immunity from criminal prosecution..individuals aggrieved can still pursue civial compenation).

    Is Taibbi right? Is this a huge dispensation for wrong and no reformation taht effectively puts banks above the law.? From a risk management oint of view if it only costs $30 billion in fines to civer wrongful gains of $100's of billions..would you curb your practices or pay the fines?..
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    Sep 19 2011: So far we have focused much more on the Sex Abuse Scandal and the prospect f the Pope being tried in International Criminal Court and have not really explored much the issues whether Obama's Settlement deal for the mortgage scnadal serves the publiic interest more and more expediently than the the planner proescutin of State Attorney's General.
    Here is a good summary from the Huffington Post:

    The Obama administration is seeking to force the nation's five largest mortgage firms to reduce monthly payments for as many as three million distressed homeowners in as little as six months as part of an agreement to settle accusations of improper foreclosures and violations of consumer protection laws, six people familiar with the matter said.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/16/obama-administration-modify-mortgages_n_836350.html

    It provides immediate relief directly to millions of consumers through recasting of loan terms to millions holding fraudulent loans to the tune of $30 billion. There is a priority on those facing or in forecelsure which is what the NY Attorney General suit was to address. A We are being asked to allow its immeditae passage without public comment or review, without any analysis of

    Described as a "shock and awe" approach, the deal would accomplish the four goals set out by state and federal policy makers and regulators as part of their multi-agency investigations into abusive mortgage practices by the nation's largest financial firms: punish banks for violations of state law and federal regulations; provide much-needed assistance to distressed borrowers; stabilize a deteriorating housing market; and dissuade firms from abusing homeowners in the future.

    The price? Complete protection against criminal liability for the banks and no public review. Can we even lnow what's right?
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      Sep 20 2011: When the banking crisis was first happening I was dating a federal bankruptcy judge in Buffalo. He felt that the president would likely expand the power of judges somewhat so that they could deal with and correct the imbalances in the system. It would have given the average home owner a much better chance at getting a fair deal and would have held the banks accountable on a case by case basis. He actually felt that with the right expansion of powers the judges across America could have tamed the problem and created far more equitable solutions in short order. Unfortunately, that never happened.

      The very idea that the banks could increase the percentage of America that they own as a result of a crisis that they caused and that the people bailed them out of is unconscionable. To sweep this under the rug is in reality sweeping the American dream under the rug.

      Yes, we need to get back on track but this is like putting another bandage on a gangrenous foot. The treatment in North America is often to lop off the foot (the common man) but in England they save the foot by allowing medical maggots eat the dead flesh away with the gangrenous infection. Gross? Yes! Effective? Yes! If the plan that is in place for the banking industry goes forward and all that corruption is in place we had better kiss the patient goodbye!
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        Sep 20 2011: Another good analogy..but I don't think I agree this is self contained to America...All of the wolrd banking systems and central banks are organized to serve the plutonomy andnot we the people. The countries with important global resources like oil who have tried to nationalize their resources for the benefit of all the people are "enemies of the west"

        When the dollar goes ( loses its value and loses its place as the wolrd's currency of trade as it will)
        the euro goes too..the immediate effects will take a lot of our allies down too...

        The patient at issue in the setllement plan Obama has put forward is really the $us and maintaining the place of americas big bank sin global banking..it's not the consumer, notthe millions whose lives were ruined.
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          Sep 20 2011: Oh, You are absolutely right, Lindsay. I was just keeping it within those confines to not confuse things but the problems are world wide. The solution we are discussing though is American and no one else has any real input but will certainly suffer the consequences.

          The thing is though that we in Canada have not had the same impact in many ways because our banking laws were considered rigid and stuffy by the rest of the world and our bankers were not able to access the level of leverage that the American and other country's bankers could (and believe me they envied the Americans). Our economy faired much better initially also because a former Prime Minister made drastic financial readjustments 20 years ago when he was a finance minister. His name was Paul Martin. What we are suffering now is a direct result of how closely our economies are tied together.
          I intend the patient in the anology to be the American economy and banking industry. I am supporting the idea that the only way to health is to take the yucky but more medically advanced solution and that solution is actually really primitive. Get rid of the corruption and the system's mechanisms will then have a chance to actually work. We do not want to lop off the foot which is an instant "cure" that leaves the economy with a permanent limp. (I may have dragged the analogy past the point of meaningfulness- I don't know.)
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        Sep 20 2011: Debra,

        I fear that the truth may be that justice for injured consumers and the fixes needed to reintroduce accountability and protections for consumers may actually be in conflict with saving the dollar...I think its possible its that bad..

        I have been working on a new article for my political blog on china. What they are doing to protect themselves right now is keeping the gun on our central bank. The consequences of what hapened when the market collapsed rippled all through to our allies and trading partners. I think the while problems is much bigger and more complex than any of us outside the system can possibly understand.

        But I think this country, every country coming to realize that its destiny cannot be shaped by its own policiesalso has to rethink from scratch how its own people are to thrive and prosper.. I don't see that happening with Obama's Settlement plan.
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          Sep 20 2011: Revised:
          Lindsay I agree that the Chinese are nervous. They have worked to diversify their investments widely. America is not the safe haven it once was for their money. They are still a nation of savers rather than predominantly living on borrowed money. They are nervous if they monitor Blackboard for many American universities because I have seen really unconscionable strategies put forth in MBA finance classes I was involved in. Some feel that we should just decide not to pay the debt. They had deviously clever ways to make it happen too and I felt at times that I was the only one reading these ideas who was shocked.
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          Sep 20 2011: If it is true what was displayed in a report on TV a while ago then most of the USA is already bought by the Chinese. If the dollar is crumbling they take the rest of it.
          Maybe Chinese will indeed be the world language in the following generation.
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          Sep 21 2011: Lindsay,

          In case it can be of use to you as you construct your blog regards China, I pulled together some related figures for another TED Conversation in a back and forth I had with James Walker regards US spending on military.

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/5080/changing_the_u_s_a_s_focus_fr.html

          I took a look at the official 2011 US Budget and found nearly every department contributes to military spending.

          The net effect:
          While China is building its infrastructure and commence at breakneck pace, we are spending more military assets. With costs breaking the back of our own citizen's well-being.

          The US disconnect:
          The usual argument is that our military interests are humanitarian and/or economic. But this argument is DOA given the state of uncivil inaction in behalf our own citizens economic and human well-being.

          The financial intersections:
          When you consider the lobbying efforts directed to the Super Congress group, combined with Citizen's United, the money trail begins emerging. In fact, it is more like a clogged intersection.

          This is not as much a problem of China infiltrating US society as US leaders jamming the budget flow while jamming big-money pockets.

          Andrea
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          Sep 22 2011: Andrea we jesuits knows China from so many years ago. And we know very well that, far from the circumstances in bussines, army, commerce and all that things, China has the biggest resource in the world: land, they are plenty of, and and the binomia space-time give them the very real and deep sense of patiente. They have more resources than any country in the world to be calm and quite and in the meanwhile they invade any country and any culture. I reccomend the review from history of the jesuits in china in xvii and xviii centuries. Specially the work from Father Mateo Ricci
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          Sep 22 2011: Luigi,

          Thanks, I'll take a look at Father Ricci's work. Whether China invades other countries or capitalizes on them seems more relevant to me. I see their patient stance as more akin to the latter.

          I had an interesting exchange with a Chinese scholar last year who joined others to observe civic efforts here in the U.S. While others visitors engaged in the international knowledge exchange, the Chinese leader remained quiet, observing.

          A local politician had visited China not long before and shared her impressions of the quite impressive buildout of cities there. So I Qd the Chinese leader about how their government worked to get so much done. He said: "In our democracy there is no policy deliberation. What the government decides, gets done."

          Andrea
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        Sep 21 2011: @ debra..expnading role of judges

        ..I don't think that we can recalibrate our society or achieve reformation through adjudication of existing law..we need an alive and engaged electorate doing some housekeeping on the laws already on the books, government policy already in force through regulations ( or lack thereof in the caseoif banks).

        That was the model for civil rights in 60;s..laws that forbade injustices that had been norm and ciulture for half of of our country new laws that came about through a determined and long lasting grass roots effort.

        The deregulation at the end of Clinton's term, including repeal of Glass Stegall (separating banking from speculation)gave free passage to all that has happened since. I guess we could say the law was set well below wisdom and good sense without regard to possible impacts on middle class america and our poor andworking poor. In fact increasingly, without our even realizing it what we have a legal framework is exactly what i swrong and deeps deep cleaning. Only small fragments of existing older law can be brought into play in courts to redress the consumer damages, the damages and perhaps permamnet change to the fabric of our society..
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          Sep 24 2011: That last Huffington post article articulated some of the solutions that the judge that I dated told me about back then. Forcing banks to restructure payments and reduce interest rates would allow far more people to keep their homes and thereby to prevent a greater percentage of American wealth to be transferred to banks.
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        Sep 21 2011: Andrea @ ChinaThanks Andrea..my post will be narrowly focused on monetary policy..specifically on China's program of gold accumulation in lieu of preferred investment in Amertican T-Bills and how that could further frustrate, perhaps defeat, any efforts we might make to get back on course.Also tying back to the main question here.your very valid exploration with Mark on the role of complicity definitely plays a key role in how a system can become "above the law" by subverting law to its purposes, which is really more the case here.

        I have just been watching a documentary ( "$10 trillion and growing. "that speaks both to the question here and your conversation on Fact. It's basic point is that George Bush convinced the electorate that we could really have both very low taxes with few spending cuts.and also a huge long term expense..two wars on top of that. It basically says the American electorate is in fantasy land still believing in Bushes myth and refusing to accept the idea that we have to pay for what we choose to have.

        Through that decade, we were all doing exactly what the government was doing..essentially paying utlity bills on credit cards.So when any sysyem confiscate law to serve itself at the expense of the electorate..we are complicit in that..when any system can reach a point of calamity that threatens our entire nation, where we may have no choice but to settle for a few cents per $1,000 of damages under law it is our complicity at work

        .Whenever anyone is above the law or controls the law against the public interest we are responsible

        And the good news is..we can take it back.

        (edited 9/26 for typos)
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          Sep 21 2011: Ladies, I am so proud of what we are doing here. Where else could we compare notes like this. Thank God for TED! 2 cheers for TED and If I may, 2 cheers for smart caring women!

          The data on the US military is an important piece of this puzzle.
    • Sep 20 2011: Debra and Lindsay
      These are great comments on this facet of the question. Yes, I think that the underlying problem is corruption and greed, but also a bit of covetousness on the part of the "common man" out there.

      In systems theory there is a saying that the easy way out is often the hard way back in. That is probably what we are dealing with here. Yes, relief needs to come to consumers who were bamboozled by the bankers. The greed of the bankers consumed many people. They have made fortunes off of the sweat of many and now cry foul when it all collapsed. There needs to be a way to help the common family. We cannot let bankers totally off the hook with some sort of pre-emptive agreement.

      You have to recognize too, that many people, the common guy, got into financial trouble out of their own greed. They wanted the lake house, the boat, three cars and the house they couldn't afford. Unfortunately the banks were more than willing to finance it all. They have to be held responsible for their actions too.

      It is getting back to that collective dialogue however that we really need. How can we address corporate greed without looking at our own greed?
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        Sep 20 2011: Michael,

        This happened in a free nation that has always promised dreams can come true..that it's posisble to move up the economic ladder if we work hard..I can't blame consumers or call them greedy when they had a chance to buy their dream home and qulaify for a loan.they thought it was just the dream coming true..the monthly payments for the initial loan terms were affordable..who are they to secod guess banks and economists telling them the value in their home would grow faster than any other invetsment and they would soon have equity and from that wealth?

        No, in my opinion the consumers here are innocent victims.

        And what about pension funds that invested in these worthless loans on the basis of false documentation belieiving these loans to be within their conservative guidelines..FHA ad Fannie Mae loans have alwas been a gold standrd for pension fund investments.?

        No, Michael, the people hurt in this scandal.. the actual borrowers and pension fund investors and those vested in pension funds..were completely innocent.
        • Sep 20 2011: Lindsay
          I agree there were many innocents. However, look at consumer spending in this country by credit card. The last figure I saw was that most families have over $5K in credit card debt. Now I have been there, but will not ever be again.

          My point was that many people who did get into trouble made some very bad choices I think based on their desire for more is better. They are responsible also for their decisions.

          The pension fund problem is very large and yes people were institutionally duped. We have to hold the bankers and investment companies accountable.

          The more we do settle for the easy way, the more trouble we will be in later.
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          Sep 20 2011: What great insights but I have to temper them. All of the universities for the last 30 years have been teaching people that today's money is worth more than tomorrow's money and that debt was a very sensible way to go. They taught about ways to leverage, risk without emphasizing risk management and even your president told the American people to fight terrorism by spending.
          Yes the people went overboard but the institutions from Universities, government stood by and applauded them along on this route to keep the economy growing. Money was manufactured by giving people easy access to credit cards and no one sounded a warning knell.
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        Sep 20 2011: Michael can you please post that Charlie Rose interview that you sent me. I am not sure where I put it and it is so illuminating about the risk leverage issues and the Republican Democrat divide on the economic issues. I think it would be timely here.
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      Sep 20 2011: Lindsay--

      I'd say Obama's plan falls into the category of short-term feel-good with long-term lessons.

      Andrea
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        Sep 20 2011: Yes, I am afraid that is it exactly.
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          Sep 20 2011: Lindsay --

          To be clear, my view is that Obama's plan is more strategic in nature than representative of his bigger picture plan.

          Part of an attempt at cross-partisan give-n-take negotiation.

          Though I'd couch this by saying this is likely as much my idealistic sense as an informed analysis.

          'Bout nows when one hope Clinton-ish strategies are burbling behind the scenes.

          Andrea
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        Sep 21 2011: Or perhaps that the bigger picture plan has been sidelined by the mess George Bush left us all with...running a deficit as huge as we have ( meaning we are borrowing to pay basic operating bills and ongoing payments , running a debt on which we can barely pay the interest even with interest on T-bill bills below 3% .

        So pulling it all back to the particular focus here, whether the law is really adequate to deliver justice and the more that we we need beyond that-the -reconcilitaion and reformation of the Mandela model,our reality seems to be that in the midst of this crisis of glbal proportions, banks and rating agencies may indeed catually be above and beyond the law. For damages in the trillions they are escaping scrutiny, pressure for further change and correction, for a little $30 billion slap on the wrist. And we seem to have no choice.
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          Sep 21 2011: Lindsay--

          Yes, Obama walked into an enormous mess when he was elected. And has been more or less filibustered, since.

          My personal view is one person and one system can not solve all cultural ills.

          If citizens are concerned with the financial crisis, they need to organize and engage it in unmistakable ways. I suggest an homebased "trade embargo" of sorts. With citizens hitting institutions directly in their pocket books. If citizens can lead this countries "austerity" era by strategically boycotting the goods of the biggest offenders, hope is perceivable.

          This means more protests on Wallstreet and, even more important I suggest, at bricks and mortar branches of the bailout banks.

          Literally pulling money out of them and moving it to community banks. It also means a moratorium on mortgages. As I write this I realize my real estate friends will not be happy with me. But, until US citizens get real sustained change is unlikely.

          Think back to the grape boycott of the 60s. A simple, effective, reasonable and easily replicable in personal environments movement.

          Andrea
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    Sep 19 2011: Those just joining and Andrea, Debra,Luigi,Mark, Jason & Frans

    So, we seem to all agree that truth and reformation are important to healing not just for victims but for the repair and reweaving of society after a violence or failure that affects millions as is the case with both the church sex scandal, global in scope, and the market failure which has thrown millions into possibly permanent poverty and unemployment.We seem to all agree that the Mandela process of non prosecution is prefereable, when available, but not available here as there is no equivalent to regime change or massive reformation likely at the vatican or in our banking and markets system

    .So. the only place where the truth, and as Frans has emphasized , an analysis of causes of failure might emanate is from prosecution..of Pope Benedict in International Criminal Court in the case of the Vatican and through the actions of State Attorneys General which at at best may only get at some aspects of the scandal and failure..the origination process..the place where consumers sign on the bottom line ( To my lnowledge no one is attempting or thinking about class action suits on behalf of pension plan members, holders of IRA's etc on behalf of cosnumers). The vatican's plan seems to be to try to weather the storm behind closed doors, out waiting the statute of limitations,reaching settlement in private not under the law.
    Obama's plan ( see further details above) involves settlement as well and would prevent any prosecutions for wrong doing.It is always possible to duck a public discloure of truth through litigation via settlement. That's what happened with BP in the Gulf oil spill. And then there is no reformation. Just dollars and hold harmless agreements.Can society weather that? is that enough for us?

    Debra has a currently active and important discussion going on the demise of investigative journalism. Coukd investigative journalism fill the "truth gap" now ? Is there a role for the internet
    • Sep 19 2011: Lindsay,

      All I will say specific to the example of the banking scandals is that in my opinion, even if there was a fallout from the prosecution of those involved, it would be temporary and we would be stronger for it in the long run. I would like to point out a few differences between the banking scandals and the situation mentioned in this debate with the Catholic Church.

      As far as the banking scandal goes, it is a direct straight line between the more information one has on the subject and the overall understanding of the problems, how they occurred and that they were committed by greedy, dishonest, generally "bad" men. ...But, in the case of religion, there is a delusion that gets in the way of acknowledging the problem, understanding the problem, reacting to it for even well educated people. Sam Harris says something to the effect of :If a person woke up in the morning thinking that saying a few Latin words over his pancakes would turn them into the body of Elvis, he would be labeled as crazy by society, but if a person does basically the same thing with a cracker and the body of Jesus, he is just a Catholic. These delusions run deep in all religions. The idea of "Divine", "Holy", "Priest", "An infallible Pope", etc. need to be re-evaluated without delusions getting in the way.

      In the Justice vs. Law thought train, I would say that a world wide recognition to a closer reality of organized religion is justice, to a certain degree, even if it has nothing to do with law. Not close to sufficient justice, but some justice at least. The problem is that even very smart people, when given accurate facts, can't use those facts to see through the veil of personal delusion. Not to mention all of the people who won't get access to the information due to propaganda and cover up.

      As far as Court of law vs. Court of public opinion, Religion has a trump on both, while the Banks only have a trump on one.
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      Sep 19 2011: Lindsay
      You want to heal the world. I want too but we can't.
      We can heal ourselves, you and me, and the world is our reflection.
      It is good to see how things interrelate but it is idle to think that change can be orchestrated by governments or churches to name some institutions.

      Nothing is gained by condemning anyone. It is all due to a complex dynamic of countless individuals of which most have lost contact with their hearts and act in accord with what their limited intellect can think of.
      Humanity is a patient in the natural world that is confused by all kinds of half and twisted truths.

      What real religion was set out to do was always to provide a plan by which people could reconnect with their hearts. Catholics substituted that heart with the name Christ and some that new better called it then the holy heart. It is all confusing and diverging from the real thing that was lost in the process of a growing intellect.

      Until enough people worldwide can see what is missing and how they can reinstall love we have to suffer atrocities and crisis’s. And people will judge and punish other people until they start to learn from it.

      If tomorrow, everyone included him/herself in as a part of all problems and stops all judging and starts all caring the world would be healed. Love that was lost can only be rediscovered by the opposite of love.

      You gave somewhere a story of a woman that was shocked by the truth at an old age as she learned that what she honored all her life was an illusion. That is learning to take responsibility and to trust your own heart. Maybe you say it was too late what good was it to her? It is never too late and never too early for a life is just part of a greater life.
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        Sep 19 2011: Hello again Frans and thank you for these good thoughts, with which I agree completely.

        Except I wouldn't say my query came from "wanting to heal the world" as much as it did from a sense that these are two extraordinary scandals caused devastating financial and emotional harm to millions and that the normal workings of our justice system, especially criminal prosecutions which are mainly about the states interests and the metering of penalties for offenses doesn't provide for the re weaving of the social fabric or adequately acknowledge the emotional and psychological trauma and its widespread cultural and scietal impact.

        I feel that we are living in a time of great disnefranchisement and alienation and that without some kind of reconcilitaion process these two events could feed that, add to fear and hopelessness when what we need is for everyone to be re energized and re engaged..ont driven deeper into caves.

        Mandela's model did that for those who had suffered for decades, lifetimes..he gave south africans a way past their grief and oppression towards towards commitment and engagement in a new and different vision.

        Of course these two events don't rise to the level of apartheid but they have both fed despiair and disenfranchisement. As Mandela recognized with great wisdom, the normal working of a justice system isn't designed to handle situations like this that involve trauma and damage to millions

        .I think the recent 10 year rememberance of 9/11.framed my sensibility about the banking and sex abuse scanadals. On the day Bin Laden was killed I started a conversation here at TED..no one felt any relief or gladness about Bin Laden. The way we as a nation, we as a world have stood with these victims healed us all , eased our fears , made us feel more secure than the patriot act did.I felt that in the aniversary observance and in the phsyical memorial. I was looking for that kind of recognition of the widespread trauma and grief caused by these two scandals.
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    Sep 18 2011: Carissima Lindsay in the Vatican we have a very long history, plenty of lawsuits that are in course...just an example The Galileo trial....among others....the tsunami is already at the Eclassia doors always. Because that reason, some doors are always open, but other doors are always closed. Please look carefully the symbol in the Vatican Seal....the keys.

    We have (indoors) the most incredible lawyers teams to attend the outdoors matters. Remember that the earthpowers are temporal powers. This doesnt mean vulnerability or weakness, is just the human condition. In a 2000 years we have to confront many attempts. This are times for sorrow and hope. God bless you.
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    Sep 18 2011: Here is a practical parallel to this human issue of justice:
    OK, if I transfer what I know of infection prevention (often containment) in hospitals to these issues, I cannot imagine anyone suggesting that we just give the surfaces a wipe and hope for the best. No. We advise them to expose all of the surfaces (no matter how difficult that might be - from beds and linens, drapes between beds, mattresses, computer keyboard, phones, diagnostic equipment) to appropriate disinfection and light and air. C.diff for example will go into a spore state that hibernates and hides in cracks in mattresses. You cannot leave the spore unless you are looking forward to another outbreak.
    It was only after media began to publish outbreaks of hospital acquired diseases and that governments and overseeing bodies began to hold them publicly accountable that the disease rates in hospitals went down (and they are still the 4th leading cause of death in North America!) How many die depends on just how diligently they pursue the organism.

    My point is that without full exposure another infection of the same disease in the church or in the banking institutions is likely. Keeping it behind closed doors is something that has been tried already for as long as these institutions existed. Like hospitals, they abused or misused that privilege and now full disclosure may be the only way to save us all.
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      Sep 18 2011: Thank you Debra. A great analogy.

      Yes of course, it takes a full public "exposition" of the truth, a thorough understanding, in the case of institutions of how and why that systemic failure happened, and a road map for reform with a realistic near term schedule of implementation.

      The process of prosecution seems to be our "gold standard" for what truth is and how it is found..it is truth against a specific standard where ( except for new laws) there is a long history of how that standard is interpreted and applied. The prosecution itself, though, doesn't bring about the reconciliation and reformation process..it's not part of the process.

      Are you suggesting that we need that afiirmation of truth under law before any of the restitution and reformation part can happen? That certainly has been how we do things in the West. As a consumer advocate, that has always been in the fore for me..something I sought and advocated.

      But mostly my focus always has been on how to reform or fine tune and calibrate big systems and instiutitions that affect our lives in fundamental ways. That's what I feel is key in both these examples.In the case of apartheid and in the case of what went fundamentally awry in our banking and money market system it was the law itself that fostered and perpetuated what went wrong., what was wrong. In many ways, what Mandelas Truth and Reconciliation Commissin did was put the law itself, the sytem itself on trial.

      Prosecution for fraud, as envisioned by the State Atorney's General will be in the context of law and regulation as it existed.t won't put the sytem istelf on trial in the same way that Mandela's Commission did. Also I am not sure the Pope's trial for Crimes Aginst Humanity will get to the core issue of the church's accountability to law oustide itself.

      My gut in both cases cited in the framing of my question is that the system itself is what needs to be put on trial and scrutinized .

      Thanks again for your great post.
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        Sep 18 2011: Lindsay, I absolutely agree with the concepts of better justice than just punishment. I think I affirmed that in an earlier post. I LOVE what Mandela did. I think it was so inspired (as though by my best conceptualization of God). People chose to come forward and face those they injured. They were given forgiveness by the people who were injured and both the victims and the perpetrators got their lives back (at least to an extent). I am not sure that killing more people or trapping them in cages for years would have made anybody any healthier, happier or better people.
        My infection parallel is merely to put in bold relief that the infection stays in warm dark places like what the church and the banks are still providing. Without full exposure, there is no chance that the evil is rooted out. Without full exposure there is no hope of trust being reinstated.

        If I got the job from the Vatican today to handle this crisis situation and de-escalate it - I would first sit them all down and make them watch an old movie with Anthony Quin called 'The shoes of the fisherman'. Step two: I would have the Pope Himself listen to the confession of each and every perpetrator and request that each perpetrator be willing to have his confession published (that would be the equivalent of those who came forward in Mandela's hearings) and then if the Church deemed them worthy, they would be given absolution (this would be consistent with the Church's standard procedures- all sinners can be forgiven). As in normal confessional procedures- the perpetrators would be assessed a penance commensurate with the crime. Either the first or the last event would be to have the Pope himself publicly confess to sins of omission and commission on behalf of the church. The end of the matter would be to establish one fund out of the Vatican riches to compensate all of the injured and another to help the poor and needy as a further penance.

        The banks are another matter.
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      Sep 18 2011: Hello Mark,

      Thanks for your post and your point with which I agree whole heartedly..how we move forward and how we correct these broken institutions whose functions affect the lives of so manymillions must involve a complete encounter with the truth, of course.

      The question I had within myself that I brought to the TED community through this conversation is whether prosecuction is really the most effective way to correct the course of these institutions, address the immediate harm millions of innocent individuals suffered, or provide a reconciliation that helps those individials move forward--I guess ultimately my question really is where is the resitution and reconciliation part of Obama's Bernanke created settlement which would exempt all parties from any further criminal liability. and more broadly what does sucessful criminal prosecutiion leave the victims with.?

      The reality of our complex pluralistic global lives requires that we entrust actions and decisions that effect our lives. our possibilities, our children's lives, the survival of our fragile planet to institutions public ( our elected officials and those they appoint to carry out specialized functions like bank regulation) .We can't have an orderly healthy viable fabric of society without this this many different transfers of trust we have to make to others. We must have confidence in these instiutions to survive..

      Of course trust is not blind or unconditional in business or in government (it has been in the church though). As mandela wisely saw..truth must be told so that it can be heard and shared with all who were victims but also in a context where there is restitution, reconciliation and refomation that allows us to trust again and to have greater confidence that our trust in these instiutions is well placed..that they will be worthy of our trust going forward.
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          Sep 18 2011: Every word Mark, wise and true and food for thought..Tht is the banner I march under often here at TED, thgat wethe people share in these sytemic failures with devatsting harm not just as victims and the injured but as passive endorsers. Only we can hold these systems to whom we have to give our trust to account. We can;t just give it and not stay tuned in.

          Thank you for your wisdom.
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    Sep 17 2011: Jason maybe I need more information, and of course I dont supouse anything about your info amount. As we all can see you have more and better. Please guide us in this very serious topic. I hope to be illustrated by your point of view. And its better to se trough different lens as your or mine. Any crime has to be punished. Inside or outside the Vatican or the White house walls. Just one thing...I,m very close to one case of violence against child, I follow this case from twelve years and I run the official statements and institution to be sure where and how is the right and strategical break to present the offenders in court. Sorry if I cant doing more than that, but I express my deep feeling for justice: Human or/ and Divine. And be sure that my work in this real case is going far than just pray. Lawyers, psichologists, official clerks, priests, police, social workers, and even the highest autorities are well informed and run the solutions in favour to the victim. And this is more than a rethoric and epistemological conversation.
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      Sep 17 2011: Luigi --

      Your experience reminds me of a friend of mine, a Catholic priest who was made Vicar General of the local archdiocese some decades ago, just before priest abuse cases became known.

      He was thrown into the center of the issue and immediately took action. With swift, comprehensive, corrective policies that were exceedingly respectful of the victims and highly regarded in both secular and religious realms.

      Disturbingly,these policies have been reversed in recent years, well after he left the position. He's spoken of his disgust and despair of the turn of events.

      I recently asked him what he thought about the lawsuit against the Vatican. He said "I'm glad Jeff Anderson is on the case." Anderson was the attorney who originally prosecuted the Church, as he has since.

      While many in the Catholic hierarchy sought to protect the Church and priests first, this priest sought to protect victims and make restoration through both financial restitution and efforts to make them spiritually and emotionally whole. Thought he would be the first to say one never heals from such a sick act of violation. And believes pedophilia is neither curable nor are priests above civil law.

      Prosecution and punishment, including isolation and/or incarceration are critical in cases like these to protect the innocent. Divine justice, as you point out, is a separate matter.

      This would be a case where culture (including the culture of the Roman Catholic institution) can and should be engaged for evolutionary change. But, disturbingly a key part of this correction must include civil action against Church leaders complicit in perpetrating these assaults..

      The Church has failed to protect its flock. Meanwhile, God calls all humans to protect and love one another -- His humanity. Thus, people in civilized society (and civilized institutions) must protect children and vulnerable others from pontificate evils.

      It's reassuring to know some are expressing love thus.

      Andrea
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        Sep 17 2011: Andrea your intelligent words open doors to a serious discussion about the human fails of an Institution hat born enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Its a pity to see how the dignity falls down to the dust. Im sad about that because as you know I'm in the vatican as a scholar and a jesuit. I see the influence of the materialist demence everywhere. But also I see the same in the highest standars from any governement in the world. Our times are sorrow times. Hre we cant close our eyes to evade a relity that has surpassed all the worst expectaions. The media efforts to expose the dirt and the cries from the victims that are a lot are not always equilibrated.The individual causes are in the lonliness, the institucional defense are with all the Vatican weaponry, that is, believe me, very powerfull. As a jesuit I tell you that not all the ecclessial hierarchy are evil. But every day the good guys are less. Remember the "Second Coming" from Yeats?
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        Sep 17 2011: Andrea the lawsuit against the Vatican could be in the most long period of time known...the eternity. All the lawyers have to know that time in essential to fight against an institution that has the eternity in their side. Not to mentioned the very best lawyers among all. Jeff Anderson is a hero just to place the lawsuit. We all expect the results.
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          Sep 18 2011: Dear Father Luigi,

          In framing my question I was thinking also of the collateral and devatsting spiritual damage that would rip through Christendom like a tsunami if the Pope actually were brought before the international Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

          The mother of a close friend from my youth educated all four of her boys in Catholic schools and the church was her life..she taught catechism, she organized to have a church in her rural Maine community. To her, serving the church was the same as serving Jesus. The church was her refuge..her whole life. As adults, several men came forward to tell what had happened to them and at first she villified them but then the truth came out as more and more came forward to confirm what was really already known, at least by all the kids back then. It lietrally shattered her world ( she was 80 at the time) because the Church, the instiution, her trust in it, her love of it was such an integral part of her faith and spirituality.

          When shocking realities are brought to light the emotional and pyschological impacts are devastating, paralysing. I am not suggesting that truth should be hidden..not at all, I have been among those for decades speaking out on this particular subject but I am wondering how the reconciliation part of this awful truth.will reach people like this elderly woman in Maine? How will the church provide the pastoral care needed for these millions?

          The Anderson suit moves this history we have all lived with and watch unfold for decades from individual priest and diocese to the entire institution of the Catholic Church. I am not so worried about the church itself, which as you say is eternal..but if the Pope were actually put on trial I am concerned about the collateral damage to all the faithful but especially the elderly, the poor, the oppressed, the very ill.Are the resources there to provide the pastoral care these non eternal ones will need to weather the personal crisis?
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          Sep 18 2011: One of the things that permitted these abuses to continue was the way those young men or women were vilified for telling the truth. This raped them again, and again. Yes, the problem was partially the paedophile priests, but the greater problem was not the conspiracy of silence and the bind faith in human beings it was the active opposition of TRUTH. It has been said that truth is another name for God. The greatest problem is that in the face of the suffering that Christ came to remove- people were utterly abandoned and told by the church, the priests and the people who claim to be closest to God himself that they were the evil ones. This is what is shaking Catholicism to its core. Someone who spoke for God said black was white.

          Your friend suffered the tortures that come to someone who knows that she has perpetrated a heinous act against another human being and which no priest can absolve her of- she helped in the murder of their spirit .It is my hope that all of this misplaced support came from hearts who could never imagine something so heinous that they rejected the thought and the persons with it. However, it did not minimize the magnitude of the sins' effects.

          "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." I know this is King James but the message is the same and the 'sea' is the chaos that has brought all the years and millennia of sincere work by sincere people down to ridicule and mistrust.

          They teach crisis management in MBA courses now. The first step is always to get out in front of the crisis, get the full extent of it and make clear that you want to make it right. Too late.
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      Sep 17 2011: Hi Benny.thanks for your comment and the cites which suggest your view of what the problem is and what the way out is. Your links lay out a neo-libertarian view. of small government and individual responsibility.

      .I agree that each of us, you and me included, are responsible in some measure for the "crime against humanity" that has left us with the highest poverty rate in our history, hard working homeowners still accountable under law for fraudulently originated mortgages while the fraud perpetrators go scott free, for the reality that those born in poverty now will stay in poverty their entire lives if something doesn't change

      .In a democracy, we always have the power to change what is unjust. We just have to engage and work for what we want

      .I also agree that every law on the books is a failure of society to regulate itself. If we were living wisely, serving humanity in all we do..all of us, each of us, we would need no laws at all.

      To make that transformation we have to begin at both ends.shrinking government and emanating us....teaching ourselves to live more wisely, to be more responsible every day for our own lives and for a continuing direct engagement with the well being of others whle simultaneously start removing laws and regulations that serve only the few.

      That transformation is exactly what we need now and that requires the full engagement and commitment of each of us.

      We have to learn and cultivate almost from scratch the habit of living responsibly not just as individuals but as citizens of our respective nations and global citizens. As Andrea has said so eloquently, and as Mandela demonstrated to the world so powerfully, the way past a violent and destructive past is not prosecution but a process of truth and reconciliation that engages everyone in society in building and realising a new and wiser vision.

      We ourselves are responsible for what we place our trust in and how the conditions for that trust are sustained
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        Sep 17 2011: wow you know your stuff, i like you ;D
        heres a link to the site again i felt like deleting my post above so my mistake for anyone who reads i didn't expect a reply.
        http://responsiblefreedom.com/
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          Sep 17 2011: Benny I thought your post was just fine..sorry you deleted it...especially your reference to trust.

          I am curious..how do you ":read" the idea of justice for the wrongoings of wall st or the worng doings of priests from your point of view.. The market collapse, in particular resulted from a sudden withdrawal of regulations and rules.. How can that be corrected without the re imposition of the rules and laws that kept a check on such practices and how do we as lay people excercise our responsbility for things as specialized and esoteric as banks, money markets, governance of a wolrd wide church. Where are we as "individuals" in that process ? IN the case of banks and money markets "we the people" can set the standards in authorizing statutes or ammendments thereto but how do we keep these insutions accountable to our version of a healthy economy on an ongoing basis without clear laws and regulations?

          I wonder how many people understand how critically linked their own daily lives are to a healthy dollar which supposedly is a principal job of the FED to protect. If our $ is devalued relative to other world currencies, the impact on the poorest and most marginalized will be greatest and first felt as prices soar and home ownership vanishes for all but the highest income strata. I wonder how many plain folk would agree with Ben Bernanke's vision of what a healthy economy is..How do we make our central banks, whatever nation we live in, function against a "we the people "vision of a healthy economy without stutaory authroity and oversight of the overseers?
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    Sep 17 2011: Barney Frank whose oversight Committee includes the FED has been frustrated in his efforts to revamp how FED regional governors are elected to reduce the influence of the plutonony on FED policy

    http://washingtonindependent.com/111688/barney-frank-some-federal-reserve-leaders-selected-with-no-public-scrutiny-or-confirmation

    And here is Bernanke's position on why the Fed must be above politics and above public scrutiny

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/bernanke20100525a.htm

    "Over the years, a consensus developed among U.S. political leaders that the Federal Reserve's independence in making monetary policy is critical to the nation's prosperity and economic stability. In 1978, the Congress formally recognized this principle by approving a provision that exempts monetary policy, discount window operations, and the Fed's interactions with other central banks from Government Accountability Office policy reviews. In 1979, President Carter appointed Paul Volcker chairman of the Federal Reserve with the expectation that Volcker would strengthen the central bank's inflation-fighting credibility, even though those steps would likely involve short-term economic and political costs. Subsequently, President Reagan's support for Volcker's politically unpopular disinflationary policies and for the principle of Federal Reserve independence proved crucial to the ultimate victory over inflation, a victory that set the stage for sustained growth.11 Presidents and other U.S. political leaders have since then regularly testified to the benefits of an independent Federal Reserve. For instance, President Clinton said in 2000, "[O]ne of the hallmarks of our economic strategy has been a respect for the independence and the integrity of the Federal Reserve."( from above cited article)
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    Sep 17 2011: Here is a link to an article tat appeared today about the Federal Reserve ( America's Central Bank) attempt to duck any possibiity of an audit or scrutiny by Congress.

    http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/reserve_under_attack_181.html

    The Fed has hired a PR firm that specializes in financial instiutions and their regulators hoping to escape the s scrutiny a bill now active in the legsilature would bring them under. The FED, as is standard for all bank regulatory agencies is suggesting that an audit of its lendings to banks could undermine public confidence and cause panic in financial markets including possible runs on banks which ocurred in the depression. In other words the FED, our Central Bank in the US isn;t exactly saying its above the law, it's saying tha tthe operation of law, as envisioned by a bill in congfess requiring an audit of te FED, woud be detrimental to the public interest.

    President Obama has strong armed NY Attorney General to drop his criminal investigations in favor of a settlement which woukd prvide restitution to consumers and grant banks immunity from any criminal liability.

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/obama-administration-pressring-new-york-attorney-general-to-drop-mortgage-fraud-investigations/
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    Sep 16 2011: Lindsay --

    No human or human group can claim moral authority. And any who claim moral authority violate it.

    No citizen, group or institution of civilized societies governed by civilized law is above it.

    Institutions which claim to defend civilized law or moral ideals, but avoid addressing injustices due to political inexpediency are complicit in undermining civilization.

    Andrea
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      Sep 16 2011: Thanks Andrea..Agreed..maybe I should reword my question but federal financial regulators discouraging fraud prosecutions on the part of State Attorney's General does seem to put banks, market managers and government officials above the law..and the vatican apparently actually is above the law..or accountable to no law other than itself. (although individual priests and lower units withon the catholic structure have been sucessfully sued. The human rights watch has complained that heads of state and senior goverment officials are rarely brought to justice placing themselves above the law.

      I agree with you that when anyone in authority places themselves above the law they are complicit in undermining civilization.

      My question is also in part whether prosecution is always the most effective remedy .
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        Sep 17 2011: Lindsay --

        Such an important distinction your Q regards whether prosecution is always the most effective remedy. My answer is: Not by a long shot!

        I think adjudication in public realms rewards the process of adjudication more than resolution, restitution and more reasonable attempts at true transformation. The rewards for the offended amount to little more than affirmation of whatever relative righteousness they possess.

        Punishment, I realize, can be a deterrent. And perhaps a way to build protective boundaries into the equation. But there is little evidence that it is effective in long-term change.

        There are many remedies that are less reductive and more rehabilitative. Mandela certainly exemplifies some of the most powerful of these.

        His models engaged cultural cooperation with the cultures beyond the criminals, so to speak. In doing so, these cultures identified less with the power and self-oppression of their more nefarious impulses and more with the power of their capacities for humanity.

        Andrea
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          Sep 17 2011: Andrea,Well said...yes that is goal when a great injustice has ocurred..to reconnect the culture with humanity by reconnecting each member in it with their own capacity for humanity. Beautiful!!!

          I think the Mandela model is what is needed, not prosecution, when there are systemic failures as in the case of the banks ,money markets and bank regulatory agencies as long as it also includes a complete rebuiuilding of the system and restitution to the defruaded consumers including possibly holders of devalued IRA''s etc.( I am not sure the plan Obama is pushing has all the elements of healing & transformation that were in the Mandela model. though)

          While I believe that central banks do need independence from political considerations ( which includes accountabilty to us..the public there does to to be a recasting of the statutory authroity for the central bank and adequate transparency and oversight .

          Same with the Catholic church's accountability to children and families..Church's have no immunity now under law. I am not sure that prosecution of the Pope in International Criminal Court for the priest child abuse scandal would serve the world as well as a vatican lead rethinking of its policies on priests engaged in any illegal activity.Forgiveness does not require continuing these people in service as representatives of the church.It is transformation of our failed banking and monetary systems that will best serve the public interest..best serve our culture not prosecutions.

          Perhaps that is also the answer to your question in the coveversation on Facts. Maybe the cure is universal engagement in the process of transformation, of rebuilding our entire system to take it back from the plutonomy and make it it serve the common good.

          Mandela's Truth and Reconcilitaion model may be exactly what we need

          .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_reconciliation_commission
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      Sep 17 2011: But what do people mean when they use the term 'moral authority'? Many people seem to think that it means the right to weigh in on discussions involving what to do about some tough issue. Other uses suggest that it is a measure of virtue; those who live exemplary lives have moral authority. Or, that one can gain moral authority by having been put through a trial: the John McCain effect. One simple definition is that moral authority is the capacity to convince others of how the world should be. This distinguishes it from expert or epistemic authority, which could be defined as the capacity to convince others of how the world is.

      So, I think that NO ONE should be above the law but I absolutely agree that the laws to ensure that can be made to serve us all better. Punishment is archaic in many ways. That does not mean that there are not smarter ways to bring 'justice' and justice should be our target. Let's never forget that ongoing injustice will kill the entire institution or body eventually as it appears to be mortally wounding the Catholic church.

      These better approaches to justice have already been partially articulated here by both Lindsay and Andrea. It is a pleasure to read them.

      Lindsay: kudos for a great topic. A TED question arose while you were away about which TED conversation members we would like to hear speak and I nominated you on the topic of banking. I always marvel at the insight you bring on anything to do with your past employment.
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        Sep 18 2011: Hello Debra,

        Your questions and thoughts, what you ask us to consider about moral authority are very central to my own wrestling with all involved in these two issues .

        Moral authority to me means those we trust to guide us to help us within ourselves come to the truth about something. What these trussted individuals say carries a weight with us that is more highly valued and trusted than what our fiends and neighbors say.The church throughout its existence has put itself forward as an institution on which mllions and millions throughout the world rely for moral guidance. Indeed, what the Pope says, historically, even supecedes and over rides the moral values held by a cultue or society. It is THE authoritative reference for many millions nad therefore affects the fabric of society in very different communities and nations all around the world.

        .How we as a world community, and within our own nations, seek to hold this vast institution accountable to the laws of our nations and our local communities matters to all of us I think ( we visited this a bit in my earlier conversation on the limits of freedom of religion). As communities, as nations, we need to know that the church will foster in its own culture a respect and awareness of law and insure that it operations are accountable to law.

        At the same time how we the people of the world get the church to confess its crimes, address the victims and all those who have suffered deep emotional and psychological trauma in collateral damage is importan tto the larger fabric of socuety it seems to me. It's not just "their problem", "their fault". The reality of what happened affects us all; how these truths are finally confessed and addressed matters to all of us

        .Your question on journalism in a way also points to our need to have persons of moral authrity we can trust and know to be reliable. These people are the light bearers. We need them.
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    Sep 16 2011: Hi Lindsay , happy to see you again after so many days.

    None should be above law.
    Reality is different sadly though.

    Please check below ,some relevant thoughts are there as well......
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/4875/is_it_moral_for_a_smart_lawyer.html
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      Sep 16 2011: Hi Salim..Nice to see you again too..I am just returned from 6 weeks my sumer studio on the harbor where I have no internet and no phone..so I missed your conversation on the frustrations of our legal system. Some nice thought there...

      I am really torn about the role of courts and prosecution under the law when an entire system in which we must have confidence is completely broken and everyone in it had a role in creating the horrific outcome which in the case of the mortgage scandal hurt the poorest and most vulnerable the most.

      My thinking is leaning in the direction that when an entire system, on which we literally depend for our well being, for the futures of our children, is broken, prosecutions are not the best course of action. I am leaning in the direction that prosecutions work when the prosecuted are exceptions to a system that otherwise works well and is trustworthy..eg. when executives of a single bank do something outrageously in violation of principles that every one else is honoring..where the system as a whole is sound and working well in the public interest.

      When the whole system has gone awry, as seems to be the case with the housing bubble scandal, I don't think we can prosecute our way back to a healthy normal viable system. Of course that idea means forgoing justice, in the form of trial and punishment for many who are otherwise culpable at law .

      I would not get much satisfaction out of seeing a pope, a person held in regard as representing something superior to human law, be treated as a criminal in the international Criminal Court, but I would like to know that the vatican is both morally and legally accountable to "we the people" when they fail to act to protect the inncocent. I am troubled by the fact the vatican seems to be above the law.

      I do want to know that systems we place our trust in are on the whole worthy of our trust.
  • Sep 16 2011: "Is Anyone Above the Law? Are There Instiutions of Moral and Public Auhtority In which Public Confidence Must Maintained at Any Cost?"

    NO!!
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      Sep 16 2011: Thanks, Jason. So you think that the public interest is always served through prosecution? I must say for most of my life, as a consumer advocate, I have always sought and believed in the force of prosecution to force corrections in failed systems.

      I have been mulling over what public interest is served by the FED discouraging States Attorney' general from pursuing fraud investigations that left innocent consumers holding the bag on fraudulently originated loans. As far as I know no relief has been offered to these consumers ( ie in recasting loans without further fees to consumers) and nothing has been done to prevent future abuses or afford greater protections. I have to wonder whether any public interest is served by discouraging these prosecutions and whether the intent isn't to protect against a reinstitution of the closer oversight and higher standards to which bank and exchanges were held prior to 2000.

      Although Pope Benedict will likely not be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court ( for legal reasons to do with the Courts authority) the decades of sexual exploitation cases, do raise questions about the accountability of the Vatican and its leadership to "we the people of the world"

      Would we be glad to see President Bush and/or Cheney proescuted for falsifying information to jsutify invasion of Iraq?

      I am not advocating a head in the sand strategy but when an injustice is sytemic, as for example apartheid in SouthAfrica, I do see wisdom and hope for change in the appriach Nelson Mandela used..I see that as more fruitful, more healing, giving more hand holds to a better future than prosecutions ever could have been. same in our own civil rights issues. We didn't bring baout chnage through prosecution but through the courts, through upholding our constitution.

      In principal I don't of course believe anyone is above the law but I am questioning how useful prosecution is in bringing justice and change.
      • Sep 16 2011: Lindsay,

        I believe in checks and balances to ensure the scales of justice don't tip. I believe in a court of public opinion being subjective and a court of law being objective, but I feel the absolute need to ensure that no man or entity is above either. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."-- This quote rings true with me. I strongly believe it would not be so true if not for the promise of immunity from prosecution for crimes committed.

        Did Bush and Cheney falsify information which led to an unjust war? It appears that the court of public opinion has committed them and therefore they should stand trial if there is indeed enough evidence to build a case. I feel that it is very possible that through a proper trial, it would be found that they did not do so and should be acquitted. I personally think it is more probable that lies were told and crimes committed, but the truth is that I, along with the rest of the world, will never know without a proper trial. This sure does make it easier for someone else to weigh the risk vs reward of such a campaign in the future and decide to choose bravery (meaning showing no fear, not the noble meaning) over prudence in committing like offenses.

        The Catholic Church, in my opinion is shamed for eternity for crimes against humanity stretching over 1000's of years. The list of offenses is too long to mention now...But on the topic of the rape and torture of orphans and children by Catholic institutions in almost every country of the world and the subsequent denial and cover up these offenses and protection of known offenders, my answer is yes, the Pope should be put on trial in an international court of law or at least by an American court as soon as he sets foot on American soil. I also feel that global sanctions against the Vatican should be put in place until this happens, as the Pope is the head of state as well. Does religion get a free pass to rape?
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          Sep 16 2011: Thanks again Jason..what you say is true..the process of law brings out facts and truths in a context of law..of what was required..the information that comes forth in a legal action does give us a level of assurance in its accuracy and completeness.