Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who Owns Whom In The Ownership Society

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."


Daniel from Milwaukee said...

I absolutely agree with you, Mike. I think we're very fortunate that Barack Obama is a supporter of getting money out of politics, and has even co-signed the Fair Elections Now Act for full public financing of Congressional elections. I'd like to see our Governor Doyle get more vocal about our need for reform here in Wisconsin.

Conrad from Chicago said...

I would not sing Obama's praises just yet. If you look at his and McCain's histories, you'll find a plethora of donations being made from employees of Bank of America ($263k to Obama, $177k to McCain), Merrill Lynch ($395k to McCain, $229k to Obama), Lehman Brothers ($396k to Obama, don't know how much to McCain), etc. source. You get the picture. My conclusion lately has been that neither one of these guys is a winner for working folks. You have to pick the lesser of two evils again this election round again.

By the way, Obama was one of the proponents for getting low-income families homes/loans which was one of the root causes of the financial crisis: give loans to people who can't pay them. Right thought, wrong action. The link is pro-McCain, but take it with a grain of salt.

Keep researching!

Anonymous said...


I agree with you Clyde 100%.
Mcain should have been given a prison term for his part in the savings,and loan scandal along side his buddy Keating,plus a couple hundred other crooks.Maybe they would think twice,before doing something sleezy.
I believe the rich do this on purpose to drive the middle class out of the market,then they buy the stock for a penny on the dollar,and add to their wealth.
After the market comes back they persuade the middle class to buy into the market dream again,and the cheating goes on.