Concentrating The Wealth
By Terrance Heath
A funny thing happened on the way to the bailout. A number of the members of the bucket brigade — that's us, taxpayers — realized that for all the billions of dollars worth of bailing we're doing, we still appear to be sinking. Our task seems to be keeping things afloat long enough for first class passengers to fill the lifeboats. And as the water rises, more of us are less content with apparent the "brokers and bankers first" rule.
And let there be no doubt, as the U.S. economy looks like it's going down for the first time, "brokers and bankers first" is the rule.
In the waning days of, well, everything from the George W. Bush era, to the Reagan era and 30 years of conservative rule — as is often the case in a disaster — men's true characters reveal themselves, and they reveal their intentions when they have little left to lose.
It's heard in back channels, on conference calls when they believe no one from steerage class can hear them.
How do you know that the Wall Street types were trying to steal from us, other than the fact that they said that the refusal to hand over money was akin to a terrorist act? Treasury officials had a secret conference call with Wall Street executives. Unfortunately for them, some bloggers were on the call. The 'Treasury boys' on the call made it clear that "the tranching is a mere formality, and the Treasury boys as much as said so. They could take the $700 billion max as soon as the bill has passed." That was always obvious.
And they admitted that "the exec comp provisions sound like a joke, They DO NOT affect existing contracts, they affect only contracts entered into during the two years of the authority of this program and then affect only golden parachutes." Both of these provisions were 'concessions' sought by Democrats. Of course, no one could have predicted this bill's 'concessions' to Democrats were farcical. No one at all.
And it can be heard in committee meetings, where there's strangely little concern that the news will drift down to steerage, when they essentially ask "How much do you think the take will be?"
In the final days of the election many Republicans seem to have given up the fight for power. But don't be fooled: that doesn't mean they are relaxing. If you want to see real Republican elbow grease, check out the energy going into chucking great chunks of the $700bn bail-out out the door. At a recent Senate banking committee hearing, the Republican Bob Corker was fixated on this task, and with a clear deadline in mind: inauguration. "How much of it do you think may be actually spent by January 20 or so?" Corker asked Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former banker in charge of the bail-out.
When European colonialists realized that they had no choice but to hand over power to the indigenous citizens, they would often turn their attention to stripping the local treasury of its gold and grabbing valuable livestock. If they were really nasty, like the Portuguese in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, they poured concrete down the elevator shafts.
Nothing so barbaric for the Bush gang. Rather than open plunder, it prefers bureaucratic instruments, such as "distressed asset" auctions and the "equity purchase program". But make no mistake: the goal is the same as it was for the defeated Portuguese - a final, frantic looting of the public wealth before they hand over the keys to the safe.
Whether most of us heard the message in such explicit terms, we got the message. The public anger over the bailout, that in the end did nothing to stop it and little to change it, was probably rooted in what was unsaid in how the bailout was sold: it was never about helping everyday Americans. Certainly, we were told that the bailout was necessary to prevent financial disaster that would devastate Main Street. That much would trickle down. But the rescue, to date, has not.
There is so much information in this article, I encourage you to read the entire thing. This is another statement in this article that just really struck me:
t's hard not to wonder about the pure contrarian inanity of the current conservative position. Our military is by far the strongest in the world, while our trains are among the slowest and our sewers are collapsing. So they propose raising spending on the military and cutting domestic investment. We suffer Gilded Age inequality, with the wealthiest 15,000 families — one-one hundredth of one percent of the population — capturing fully one-fourth of the entire income growth from 2000 to 2006. Their average income rose from $15.2 million per year to $29.7 million per year. Meanwhile, the rest of us — 133 million households that make up 90 percent of the country - divided up 4% of the nation's income, adding about $305 to our average $30,354 income. So conservatives push for more tax cuts for the wealthy, while proposing to tax employer based health benefits. Corporate profits (prior to the recession) have catapulted to what is by far the highest percentage of national income in the past half century. So they want to cut corporate taxes, inevitably increasing the burden on labor. The economic future looks dim because consumers, drowning in debt, are cutting back. So they suggest cutting taxes on corporate investments will generate new investments and growth — as if companies don't need someone to buy the products they make.