Sunday, April 18, 2010

Baggers need clue...

Let's get real about financial reform. The major banking and financial behemoths have functioned with near impunity since causing a world-wide financial meltdown, and have continued to enjoy unfettered profits from the financial fictions they've been allowed to operate under. And while the profits are private, enjoyed by a handful of the wealthiest, the risks have been socialized - we've all been forced to assume them.
So where's the outcry of "socialism" from the tea-bagging set and their ilk? After all, that seemed to be their favorite big-person vocabulary word when it came to the issue of reforming the medical insurance industry. The idea of a country paying for healthcare for its citizens sends the bag-nuts into a frothing frenzy, but it seems to be a-okay with them if we all subsidize the richest of the rich.
Does it dawn on the tea-baggers that there's a huge disconnect between how Wall Street is doing, and how the average American citizen is faring? Have they noticed that while "large corporate America is in very, very, very, very good shape" (JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon), the rest of the country is circling the drain financially? That would be a no, apparently.
Here's part of what Bill Moyers had to say the the subject recently:

"...Look at Eric Lichtblau's report this week, also in The New York Times, under the headline. "Lawmakers Regulate Banks, Then Flock to Them." The financial services industry has hired more than 125 former members of Congress and congressional staffers from both parties to help them fight off accountability.

No wonder, too, that this headline appeared in the Times this week: "GOP Takes Aim at Plans to Curb Finance Industry." That's not surprising. Earlier this year Republican politicians told Wall Street: Give us the scratch and we'll scrap reform.

The GOP's SWAT team -- also known as the United States Chamber of Commerce -- has already spent three million dollars to try to kill or cripple a key part of reform -- the proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. With the Chamber as their front, corporations have bankrolled ads that make it seem like the Red Army is at our doorsteps.

Advocates for reform have countered with ads of their own, but Democrats are deeply in hock to Wall Street, too. Remember the hedge fund Magnetar that bet against its own products? The owners covered their bets with ample campaign contributions to Rahm Emanuel. Yep, the same -- President Obama's White House chief of staff. At the time he was an Illinois congressman and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which collected millions of dollars from the financial services industry.

In fact, the website Politico.com reports that "the nation's ten richest hedge fund managers have dumped nearly one million dollars into campaign accounts over the past several years… consumer advocates and critics from other financial sectors say hedge funds would get off pretty easily" under the Senate reform bill.

Bottom line: "The Wall Street banks are the new American oligarchy - a group that gains political power because of its economic power, and then uses that political power for its own benefit." So write Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund; and James Kwak, former management consultant and software entrepreneur, in their important new book, "13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown."

Their words of warning and the past year and a half make you realize that as usual, Thomas Jefferson, whose birthday we celebrate this week, had it right. Back in 1816, he wrote, "I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." Read entire article on Alternet here.

Bill Moyers is the host of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

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