Difficult to believe that depressed residential housing prices in California, Florida and Nevada could lead to a global downward spiral in the financial markets. Either the free world's financial system is all too fragile or massive greed and hubris has crushed our financial system. The latter seems more likely.

The pirates who ran Wall Street could not have breached their social responsibilities without the enabling support of three distinct groups. The first group is the board of directors of these publicly traded corporations, the second group are politicians who oversee relevant regulatory agencies and finally, the regulatory agencies who have all but abrogated their responsibilities.

Corporate boards of directors are frequently loaded up with the cronies of the chief executive officer. These board members, who are entrusted to protect the common shareholder's interests, are frequently mere figure heads. They do not act independently and are frequently dictated to should they express a personal interest. Whereas it is unlikely that a board member could be held criminally responsible for their inactions, they can be held civilly liable by the shareholders. Shareholders should be encouraged to seek redress.

Next, our elected political leaders are caught in an obvious conflict of interest when attempting to legislate controls on companies from which they derive a great deal of their political capital - political bad actors such as Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts, Sen. Christopher Dodd, Connecticut, Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York; Senator Harry Reid, Nevada, and a cast of dozens. Throw these (people) out.

Then come the do-nothing regulators - the House and Senate Banking Committees, the Security and Exchange Commission, and FINRA (formerly National Association of Security Dealers). These regulatory agencies and especially the self-regulatory agencies merely give lip service to controlling the deficiencies, which has led to our current financial meltdown. It's not the first time. Turning a blind eye to these problems is hardly benign neglect.

These regulatory agencies are either politically motivated or monetarily motivated to act in this manner. There exists a huge revolving door between regulators, politicians and private industry. Corruption has broken the system. Pity the poor taxpayer whose lot it is to bail out the man.

Noel R. Wolfe is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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