This is written from the perspective of 40 years in bank fiduciary activities, the last 13 years of which were occupied by compliance and fiduciary risk management functions. The editorial of May 17 (Another View, “JPMorgan Chase losses a timely reminder”) is on point up to a point.

The activities and losses sustained by Chase’s securities trading activities clearly fly in the face of the reforms sought after the debacle in 2008, brought about by the risky securitized mortgage obligations and the onset of the Great Recession.

However, the root causes of current deplorable affairs go back to the dismantling of the separation of powers of banks and securities firms, originally enacted under the Glass-Steagall Bank Act of 1933, when the provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act were enacted in 1999.

Banks have never had any business being involved in real estate, insurance or, most of all, non-fiduciary investment activities.

Ambitious and overpaid CEOs are really to blame for obviating Glass-Steagall, beginning with Citigroup’s acquisition of Salomon Smith Barney in 1998, and to a lesser extent later, acquiring Travelers Insurance.

Before those portentous occurrences, banks had pretty much stayed out of trouble for more than 60 years and were considered stalwart institutions for safe funds deposit and financial transactions. They had been obliged by Glass-Steagall to keep to the business they knew and not seek to aggrandize more power and assumed prestige for CEOs and shareholders.

Since meaningful regulatory reform seems as impossible to create as universal health insurance, perhaps the provisions of Glass-Steagall that controlled bank activities and kept them acting as banks – i.e., lending money in a risk-based manner – should be re-enacted.

Banks should no longer be permitted to get immersed in the risky hedge and derivative investments with which they have created such havoc through their securities divisions.

Warner Price

Harpswell

Dechaine conviction upheld in ‘tough on crime’ spirit

A study has revealed that more than 2,000 persons found guilty of serious crimes in the United States over the past 23 years have been exonerated (“In 23 years, 2,000 exonerations,” May 21).

Surely many other wrongfully convicted persons have not been exonerated – the authors note heavily populated Texas and California counties that have seen no exonerations.

They might also have noted the state of Maine, where Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes was quoted as saying that wrongful convictions do not occur.

Many recent exonerations involved crimes dating from 1988 into the early 1990s, and it may be no coincidence that the Republican mantra that Democrats were “soft on crime,” citing the Willie Horton debacle, began in June 1988 with the presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush.

The horrendous murder of Sarah Cherry occurred that July. It may be no coincidence that Dennis Dechaine’s trial in 1989 could not be considered fair under any reasonable standard, nor that Maine’s then-attorney general, James Tierney, a liberal Democrat, had higher political aspirations.

From Tierney to Janet Mills, every Maine attorney general was a liberal Democrat who would not have wished to be labeled as being “soft on crime.” And thus it may be no coincidence that Dennis Dechaine remains imprisoned today, despite the mountain of exculpatory evidence uncovered since his conviction.

William Bunting

Whitefield 

Retirees unjustly losing out on earned health benefits

May is Older Americans Month, and we urge fellow Americans to join us to protect our earned health care benefits.

Sadly, more than 22 million retirees across America have had their earned health care benefits canceled by former employers, and another 14.3 million are on the verge of losing their benefits.

Millions of us are in the same sinking health insurance boat. Our generation was told that if we stayed our entire career with the same company, we would receive employer-sponsored health benefits throughout our entire retirement in return.

2012 is a congressional and presidential election year. Retirees need to stand up and be counted because many of our former employers have sought ways to rid themselves of health care contracts with American retirees.

ProtectSeniors.org is leading the fight to protect earned retiree health care benefits. I encourage all retirees and our neighbors to get involved. Join ProtectSeniors.org and show Congress and the presidential candidates we mean business, and demand a law to protect our benefits.

Caroline Archambeau

Portland

 

Pro-gay marriage groups intolerant of other views

 

What’s with all this anti-Christian sentiment being propagated by the gay community in Maine?

First they attack Michael Heath for being “un-Christian,” referring to him as a “gay-hater,” then they attack all Christians because they believe God meant what he said, specifying (repeatedly), that a marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman.

For any community that prides itself on “tolerance,” it seems pretty duplicitous to be on the attack mode against anyone who has an opposite opinion.

Accusing everyone who disagrees with them of being “in favor of discrimination” is an effective tool which works with some, but misses the point. Intolerance and discrimination have nothing to do with this issue. It’s about obedience: something we all fall short of.

The gay community wants what it can’t have: They want their behavior to be accepted from a social, cultural and Christian standpoint. This childlike whining about being “victimized” while attempting to drag others into a shouting match only serves to cloud the issue altogether, although it’s probably by design.

I guess speaking the truth in love isn’t always as easy as it should be, especially if the one(s) you’re speaking to don’t want to hear it.

David Del Camp

Portland