I'm not arguing that the SEC should not have brought this case or that there is no one in Washington trying to protect the interests of the 99%. Rather, I'm saying is that the existing tools of government machinery make it difficult for anyone to actually be protected unless they have money—and lots of it.
Millions of dollars will be spent defending the suit. This is yet another example of how the government is working to stimulate the economy. (I have long held the belief that—contrary to the opinions espoused John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the Party of Tea—government agencies, whatever they may cost, actually do create far greater benefit to the economy in terms of private sector jobs and economic activity). Just think about how many lawyers, accountants and other professionals make serious bank by sidestepping government rules or defending against their enforcement. I have no idea what the numbers are, but I'll bet you $10,000 (thanks Mitt!) literally millions of people owe their livelihood to the idiocy and complexity of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
When you step back and take a look at it all, the forest can look very different from the trees. I think that the SEC suit against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives represents a kind of stress release, in a very different form than, say, Occupy Wall Street. Americans are seething over the fact that despite the near collapse of the entire financial system, the guys who ran the game and profited immensely from it, and continue to profit immensely from it, remain largely unscathed by its results.
The government that oversaw the morass and certainly had at least some hand in creating it still can't manage to appoint a director of the CFPB, or even extend a payroll tax holiday that means an awful lot to a whole lot of people, especially at this time of year. No doubt, the fine folks in Washington are trying to do something, and that something is typified by the complaint against Fannie and Freddie—full of sound and fury and good intentions, but signifying very little.
The very sad truth is that in addition to all of the other schisms about which you can read daily—income inequality, extremists controlling Congress, etc. etc.—the largest gap exists between what government does and what government should do. The people who argue that there is too much regulation are right, principally because so much of it is ill-conceived and counterproductive. The people that argue that there is too little regulation are also right, principally because most government action, both good and bad, ignores the 99%. Only one thing is certain: good people both in and out of government are trying to do something, by calling out snake oil salesmen on the Hill, or by occupying parks around the country. Those expressions of frustration will keep building until something happens—but I'm not sure what or when.
No wonder so many people feel that America has lost its way. Perhaps couches should be installed in voting booths…
Adam Levin is Chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.