Matt Taibbi's article in the Rolling Stone demonstrates the extent our system has been captured by the financiers.
Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?
It's all there: investigations being quashed, records being destroyed, SEC officers leaving their jobs to take cushy positions at the banks they were investigating days earlier. And it's all illegal, but the few people who pointed it out over the years were demoted or fired. In some cases the SEC turned over their investigation to lawyers hired by the banks under investigation.
We will never know to what extent the most recent financial collapse was due to pure fraud and corruption, because the people keeping the records destroyed them. They don't want us to know. Frankly, I think that tells us everything we need to know.
What is amazing to me is that the current crop of Republican politicians is busy blaming poor people for the bad economy, and asserting that poor people should pay to fix it. And yet ordinary people - that is, non-hedge fund managers - still call themselves Republicans. Future historians will look back on this period the way we look back on the Robber Barons, and marvel that such blatant plutocracy was so unrelentingly popular with the people being robbed.