Between 1909, when it was first established in American law that corporations could in fact be held to account for the actions of its employees, and the present day, several hundred thousand rules have been implemented in this country, each of which carries some form of criminal liability if violated. And of course, some things should be punished; a company that pushes poison while touting the health benefits of its product, for example, desperately needs to be hurt.
The problem is that, as with most things in life, there is such a concept as "too much of a good thing".
WHO runs the world’s most lucrative shakedown operation? The Sicilian mafia? The People’s Liberation Army in China? The kleptocracy in the Kremlin? If you are a big business, all these are less grasping than America’s regulatory system. The formula is simple: find a large company that may (or may not) have done something wrong; threaten its managers with commercial ruin, preferably with criminal charges; force them to use their shareholders’ money to pay an enormous fine to drop the charges in a secret settlement (so nobody can check the details). Then repeat with another large company.
This trend - and it is very much a trend in America today - undermines not only the rule of law, but the very credibility of the agencies that profess to serve it. Far from serving as the virtual town marshal, they've stooped to becoming common bounty-hunters or, worse, simple extortionists. At the rate some agencies are going, it won't be long before their agents are installing the new micro-skimmers into your local ATM. Why bother hitting up corporations when they can lift cash straight out of your account?
And make no mistake; that's exactly what they're doing in their roundabout way if you happen to have a pension plan or a 401(k) or an IRA: you're an investor, and these agencies are not ripping into the corporations they pursue; ultimately, they're ripping into your wallet.