Sunday, August 28, 2011

Error 404 - Democracy Not Found

While President Obama's and Congress's public approval poll ratings are dropping faster than the value of my under water home (and believe me, that's pretty darn fast, still, in 2011), I don't think Washington, nor most state capitals, really get it.  They think people are all mad about "jobs!!!!" .. and yes.. some people ARE Very mad about jobs.  But this malaise the country is in economically on all fronts is broad based with the  with the exception of one small privileged group, has got most people feeling very left out of their democracy.  That one exception - Wall Street and those who are rich because of Wall Street (psst:  we're supposed to call them "Job Creators" now, and not "the rich" anymore).

Other than Ponzi grogan and popular prison girlfriend Berni Madoff, no one has gone to jail, or paid for their corruption, their back room bribery, their hand in the kleptocracy that used to be an American democracy.  Year after year since the 2008 housing bubble bursting, the richest F'tards on Wall Street, the Bankers who invented imaginary and worthless paper that bamboozled simple single family home buyers like me, and then sold those worthless imaginary amalgamations of merde to get the risks of default off their books, are getting richer and richer, being paid higher and higher bonuses, living the extremely good life, while dumb schmucks like DDF and I who trusted in the system of regulators and reputable ratings agencies continue to see our net financial worth diminish.  It's nothing we did, other than trust the system.   We did not speculate.  We did not over-extend, in fact, we bought a home that was 2/3rds of what we COULD HAVE afforded on both our salaries, because we didn't want to be "mortgage poor".

I have a theory, that IF one or two Wall Street investment banks has actually been investigated, and found to have defrauded investors / violated Glass-Steagal / been found guilty of gross mis-management, or of paying off regulators or ratings agencies, that it would have scared the other W.S. banks into better behaviour.  Nothing like taking one or two COEs and CFOs in hand cuffs to prison to make the others fly straight.  But instead, they speed dialed the Secretary of the Treasuries under both Bush and Obama.  They watered down any banking regulation that would have had ANY teeth in it, and they paid themselves GIANT (and well publicized) bonuses, sticking a dirty finger in the American public's eye the entire time, and laughing about it.

This continues to drive the lack of buying power that constitutes 60% of American GDP.  It perpetuates the lack of trust of all Americans (living & breathing, as well as 'corporations are people' citizens), and it leaves us in the malaise, seeing that we're not millionaires or billionaires, we can't lobby to re-write legislation and water down regulations, we're pretty much powerless.  Not even the 'power of the ballot box' matters much anymore, when unregulated (read "infinite") finance can be poured into campaigns to get the (mostly) ignorant voters to believe anything that the sly campaign spin doctors want them to believe.

My plan to get America out of this malaise is simple:  Reverse the "Citizens United" decision on "Corporations are people" and prosecute 2 (one would look like a sloppy anomaly) major investment banks for the shenanigans they pulled in the housing collapse, and the American economy, and the world economy, will come back ROARING. 

But of course, that would take morals, and political will to do the right thing for the greater good; neither of which the United States apparently has any longer.


  1. Dunno, Joe...I think we've *been* powerless for a generation (since 1981, to be exact), but now that the pain has become so acute we're just starting to notice that we're powerless. Some people join the Teabaggers and vent their frustrations by advancing the agenda of their plutocrat masters. Others just suffer quietly.

    That said, I'm not sure criminal law is an effective tool in the fight against corporate malfeasance. The burden of proof is far too high, and the penalties are tiny compared to the size of some companies' profits and some individuals' (often lightly-taxed) incomes. Ask any CEO what he fears most, and he'll likely say 1) Lawsuits, then 2) Regulation, then 3) Unions.

    I say we unwind the plethora of roadblocks corporate America has placed on our right to petition for redress of grievances, than unleash an army of class action lawyers on the private jet class.

  2. Joe M, I concur that RIGHT NOW CEOs don't fear jail, because they've de-toothed their regulators, and figure they can always find a scape goat to blame it on, some lackey below them.

    I don't disagree with your time line, but it has been in the last 10 years that the GAP between rich and poor, with the rapidly shrinking middle class, has become so accentuated, so clearly emphasized.

    I think the quiet sufferers are gathering their pitch forks, and we're heading towards a Brazil model, where the rich will have armoured cars and security details, while the rest of everyone else (degreed professionals, the merchant class, those who don't watch reality shows as if it's their only hope of enjoying existence ... and then Everyone else) boils just beneath the plutocrats.

    We shall see.

  3. Ah, but the end of a hockey stick curve is the result of momentum built before the uptick. And they never feared the regulators and criminal law even before they were de-toothed. They just managed them. Civil law is the unmanageable for them, which is why they've been trying to limit our right to sue for years.

    Interesting comparison to Brazil. Then again, Brazil elected a president 10 years ago who was committed to making sure that *everyone* shared in any newly-found prosperity. They aren't there yet, but they're making moves in the right direction, forming a stronger middle class, etc.


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