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Friday, July 10, 2009

When the kids ask how America could fall so far so fast

The answer is easy: "Because we became obscenely greedy, and incapable of learning from our mistakes -- even recent ones."

Comments (8)

The part of the derivatives scam that nobody went near is the fraud. If you are giving something an AAA rating when it's made out of crap that has to be a crime - especially when you realize the banks control the people who are giving out the ratings.

Justice and the rule of law suffered greatly under the Bush administration but President Obama is doing nothing to return us to the right path.

Bush officials roam the countryside bragging about their war crimes. Goldman Sachs executives who helped perpetrate the biggest fraud in world history shuffle off to Washington to direct billions more back to their gangs.

Bernie Madoff didn't come close to these guys as far as damage, yet none of them face prosecution. Instead they are back in business as repeat offenders.

I was counting on President Obama to be that voice of integrity and justice, but it is not happening. He seems caught up in the fun of being President while Wall Street crooks continue to suck the life blood from this country.

I knew such mediocre clowns as Sam Adams and Randy Leonard wouldn't have the spine or brains to figure it out locally with this Paulson deal. That's no surprise. But I am a little surprised at President Obama's willingness to let the status quo continue on Wall Street.

We are seriously running out of chances to correct these problems. We've bought a little time for a sick patient but the economy is heading right for the morgue.

I'd call it a values problem. When we routinely punish the producers and reward the problems we get more problems and less product.

Some would argue that there was a time when hard work, thrift, education, skills and self discipline were to be honored and rewarded.

When we see college dropouts and overall losers routinely being awarded high-paying-high status jobs maybe we had better re-examine our values.

It's really too late to fix all this. Get yours while you still can.


Your dismay with Obama and the way he is handling this situation is shared by many in the progressive community, including myself. At the outset he was confronted with a huge financial crisis that was at full tilt the moment he was elected, and naturally he looked to the "experts" for a solution. The "experts" are people he is comfortable with, and they are Ivy League educated economist types who have been in bed with the ruling Wall Street oligarchy since the day they were hatched. The people who advise him are invested in returning things to the status qou, which includes allowing things like junk bonds, hedge funds and derivatives to run unabated in a so-called loosely regulated capitalist free market. A major tenant of capitalism is that if you take risks and lose your lose your ass. The problem here is that these guys lost their asses and then got a huge bailout. When people get burned they tend to alter their behavior so they don't get burned again. In the case of these massive bailouts, they have learned that there is plenty of OPM (Other People's Money) to tap into if their bets go wrong. Apparently the latest round of bonuses on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs and the like are the largest on record. So the bottom line is that there will be a continuation of the bad behavior that got us into this mess to begin with, and the people who caused it all are walking away smelling like roses when, according to the laws of capitalism, they should be wallowing in a pile of dung.

At this point, I don't see Obama looking to really shake things up in any meaningful way, and the reckless risk taking and associated bonuses will continue as usual. He has surrounded himself with the same old same old, and we are getting the same old same old as a result. If he has any long term plans to meaningfully alter the status qou by forcing the reckless oligarchs to accept their lumps, I see no real hope that this country is going to start heading in a new direction towards the better. In the end, I think that the responsibility to shake things up lays with Obama, and I hope that he has the courage to make the painful changes that need to be made so we can get off this ridiculous merry go round that continues to reward the super rich while dumping on the middle class and the poor.

I have to agree with Bill and Kevin, but what I want to know is, who is going to buy this junk?

I'm sorry? Isn't it a tenet of Progressives that everything should be run by a group of elite "experts" that would dictate how the rest of us should live?

But "elite" and "experts" are not any less susceptible to being co opted than anyone else. The "lobbyists" be they representatives of business, governments or "non-profits" will find their weaknesses and exploit them for their own gain.

That's why it is important to have authority as decentralized as possible. If everything is more local there are too many people to effectively co opt without being exposed.

It's less efficient, but government has never been about efficiency, it's about power.

Better a lot of big fishes in small ponds that one big fish in one giant pond.

Usual Kevin and Bill McDonald: Your disappointment with Pres. B. Obama is touching, but you've been duped. Anyone who paid attention to campaign contributions knows that the Obama campaign received *major* contributions from all the Wall Street guys,as well as Big Money people from Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the inestimable genius Warren Buffett, and, of course, Chicago millionaires. So, it's not just that the Wall Street guys went to Ivy League schools as Obama did, it's the old "money talks" meme.

John Dunshee: Exactly right!

In response to the above:

I've always thought that progressives believe that the natural order of things can be changed through a process of reason and effort. Conservatives see the world as immutable and ruled by an invisible hand of some sort, be it God or whatever. Conservatives object when progressives attempt to make life better through government action because they see no point in altering a pre-ordained order of things, and they think that the less government there is the better. Of course the above is an over simplified summary of both points of view because in the real world both sides tend to adopt some of the views of the other in the practical implementation of governmental action on a day to day basis. John Dunshee you are clearly a conservative, but I think you have a valid point about moving away from centralization.

On a personal level I don't think anyone could logically conclude that gathering a bunch of "experts" who have degrees from "elite" institutions will necessarily promote reason when those same experts have been co-opted by the very institutions in need of change. In my book if you are going to rely on an expert for an unbiased opinion they had better have absolutely no stake in the outcome of the opinion provided. In the case of opinions on the economy, etc. it is hard, if not impossible, to find advisers who are not at least in part tainted by the ruling oligarchy.

Am I disappointed in Obama's apparent lack of courage in taking Wall Street to task for the mess they created? Yes, I think I already said that. Should more people be under indictment for the massive fraud they have perpetrated on their shareholders and the American public? Yes. Focusing on the Bernie Madoffs of the world, however, is mentally lazy. The jack asses who created the real mess, not the guy who stole from a handful of rich people, are the ones who should be hanging from the proverbial rafters, and the full force of the U.S. Govt. needs to be brought to bear on those who caused the problems.

Was I "duped" because I voted for Obama? Not really. He was clearly the better choice over the McCain/Palin ticket. I continue to believe that he will make important changes that will move this country forward. He has pushed for legislation and helped pass legislation that limits the credit card industry. He has done more in terms of international relations in six months than Bush did in eight years. He is pushing for major changes in health care. Will he effectively deal with Wall Street? I hope so.

Is more local control the answer? I don't know, but I think it would help maintain more accountability over those who lead us. People have to care and they have to get involved. All in all self reliance and community involvement go hand in hand in creating a society that provides a meaningful existence to its citizenry.

In the end I think that Obama needs to hear from and listen to the everyday people who elected him and donated to his campaign. He needs to understand that the Gordon Gecko types ("greed is good") who are running the show are bad news, and we need to put them in jail...not bail them out. Jobs are good, but at what price? Jobs as they exist are here today and gone tomorrow according to the whims of the oligarchs who will ship them overseas in a heartbeat to make big bonuses for the executives?

The answers aren't easy. Starting at square one and getting to the bottom of things helps. Stringing things along by bailing out the oligarchs who created the mess is clearly not the answer.

Wow, I guess I'm chatty tonight. If you read all of the above thanks for hanging in there.


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