On this, the 5th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Americans should take time to pause and remember this as yet another heinous crime of historic proportions perpetrated on Americans on a day in September.
It wasn’t terrorists and it wasn’t Main Street who killed our economy. No, this crime was perpetrated on us by a conspiracy forged between Big Money on Wall Street and Small (not Big!) Government politicians who carry their water and actually pass rules and laws that make the crime legal.
That means we’re also to blame. Actually, it’s not all of us who must share the blame.
There’s no other way to say this. It’s Americans who vote for politicians who want to further deregulate all kinds of industries, including the financial services industry, who share in the blame. By electing people who work to shrink government and deregulate industries, we’re actually creating a “Socialism of Wall Street” where the gains of capitalism are privatized to an infinitesimally small number of people while all the losses are socialized to all the rest of America.
How much more proof is needed that deregulation, coupled with greed and power, leads to terrible outcomes for everyone except those with wealth and power? I consider myself to be a capitalist, but I also know from experience that corporations have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves alone.
For an excellent accounting and timeline of events that led up to the crash of ’08, I recommend reading this 2011 Forbes piece, Lest We Forget: Why We Had a Financial Crisis.
In it, Steve Denning writes:
Many actors obviously played a role in this story. Some of the actors were in the public sector and some of them were in the private sector. But the public sector agencies were acting at behest of the private sector. It’s not as though Congress woke up one morning and thought to itself, “Let’s abolish the Glass-Steagall Act!” Or the SEC spontaneously happened to have the bright idea of relaxing capital requirements on the investment banks. Or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of its own accord abruptly had the idea of preempting state laws protecting borrowers. These agencies of government were being strenuously lobbied to do the very things that would benefit the financial sector and their managers and traders. And behind it all, was the drive for short-term profits. <emphasis added>
I think “…being strenuously lobbied…” is too polite a euphemism.
It was the Big Money One-Percenters exercising their control over politicians who got agencies to do their bidding. 2008 was the result of the lies Reagan told America about trickle-down economics and the size of government, and the perpetuation of those lies coming from Republicans, extreme neo-cons, and the One Percent ever since. They are the ones who killed our economy in 2008, and they will do it again unless we do something to stop them.
Need more evidence?
Here are some facts about the 2008 bailout, courtesy of Public Citizen.
- Amount the crash cost the U.S. economy: $22 trillion
- How much everyone would get if that $22 trillion were divided equally among the U.S. populace: $69,478.88
- Assets of the four biggest banks in America — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wachovia/Wells Fargo — when they were “too big to fail” in 2008: $6.4 trillion
- Assets of those four banks today: $7.8 trillion
- Of the 63 former Lehman Brothers employees identified by a bankruptcy examiner as being aware of an accounting scheme Lehman used to mask its true finances, number who are employed in senior financial services positions today: 47
- Number of the 25 banks responsible for the bulk of risky subprime loans leading up to the crash that are back in the mortgage business: 25
- Chances that an American voter thinks that regulating financial products and services is “important” or “very important”: 9 in 10
- Chances that an American knows the Earth orbits the sun: 8 in 10
- Amount spent in 2012 by Wall Street and other finance industry behemoths on lobbying to roll back, water down and weasel out of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: $487 million
- Number of registered financial industry lobbyists in 2012: 2,429
- Number of lawsuits filed as of April of this year by Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to hold up implementation of Dodd-Frank rules on legal technicalities: 7
- Rank of finance industry among all corporate election spending by sector in 2011 and 2012: 1
- Amount the industry gave to political candidates in 2011 and 2012: $664 million
- In 2012, rate at which revenues of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., matched Public Citizen’s operating expenses for the entire year: Every 80 minutes
To my friends on the right, isn’t it time to wake up to the reality that trickle-down economics is a lie? The One Percent don’t care about you, and you are extremely unlikely to ever become one of them.
Isn’t it time to join forces as average, middle class Americans to make our voices heard about getting big money and it’s corrupting influence out of politics, and to get our democracy turned back over to us ordinary citizens?
You can start by joining and supporting CoffeePartyUSA and by becoming a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act.