What's happening on Wall Street and what's about to happen to all of us taxpayers is more than the latest dramatic failure of our government to carry out its proper responsibilities. The extent of the negligence dwarfs even the before and after of Hurricane Katrina, which is really saying something. But this is more than another case of people in high places sleeping at the switch.
The turmoil in U.S. financial markets is more than an indictment of the criminal theology of deregulation and more deregulation. Yes, we have the economic anarchists to thank for all the collapsing financial institutions and the growing panic in the stock market. Who is more to blame, the majority in our society who bought unbridled greed as a governing philosophy, or those who made the sale? Does it really matter? There's been plenty of stupidity to go around.
And the reservoir is far from dry. The very people who peddled the snake oil now want a government bailout. The no-government-is-good-government crowd is allergic to paying taxes, but expects the taxpayer to rush to the rescue when things fall apart. Privatized profits and socialized losses. Sweet deal. What blows the mind is how quickly and easily such deals are consummated in Washington.
It is here the root of the crisis is found. What we have is not just an excess of greed or a lack of oversight. We have an absence of democracy.
The reason Wall Street was never reined in and now will be bailed out is that the officials who decide things in Washington are owned by those they are supposed to regulate. Need persuading? Follow the money.
The finance, insurance and real estate industries that are at the heart of the scandal have given nearly $340 million in campaign contributions at the national level in the 2008 election cycle alone. Half of it to Democrats and half to Republicans.
Washington insiders are fond of saying insurance giant AIG is "too big to fail" when justifying the company's bailout. Actually, its campaign donations are too large to ignore.
Look at the list of top all-time donors to federal campaigns. Weighing in at number four is none other than Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street's most prestigious investment banks. Look at the so-called "bundlers" who raise the really big money for both presidential campaigns. The lists for both major party candidates are littered with investment bankers and bigwigs from the insurance and real estate industries.
And don't forget Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They've got millions invested in Washington's elite.
So this is what is meant when we're told they're building an "ownership society."