Voters should #NeverForget915, and they should never believe people like Scott J. Freidheim

Republican politicians have been selling the lies of trickle down economics and deregulation on behalf of their Big Money and Wall Street masters for decades.

Now the very people at the heart of the financial market collapse of 10 years ago – people like Scott J. Freidheim – are trying to explain how it could have been avoided by making their lives easier.

Anyone paying even the slightest attention to economic reality since Reagan and certainly in the years leading up to the collapse of 2007/8 will know better.

NeverForget915

Everything old is new again

As someone who just made it under the wire of Baby Boomer, I’ve watched for decades as low information conservative voters have been able to be counted on by generations of Republican politicians as people who are very easily duped into buying Republican lies.

These days I find myself asking whether Americans who think of themselves as Republicans and who vote for Republican politicians have either the will or the desire to ever actually understand how voting for a Republican at any level of government – from school board to town mayor to president – is truly a vote for a Party with an ideology designed explicitly to hurt them, their progeny, and everyone else outside the One Percent?

Republican orthodoxy on full display

The answer seems to be that some Americans continue to be willingly duped by people like Scott J. Freidheim.

Lehman insider Scott Freidheim

In “The Lehman Brothers Collapse, 10 Years Later,” full-blown One Percenter and former senior Lehman executive, Scott Freidheim, is peddling the right-wing lie that says everything is the government’s fault if the government doesn’t do what Big Money wants.

In other words, pure Republican orthodoxy.

Mr. Freidheim has the temerity to claim that Lehman’s collapse was the government’s fault for not allowing Lehman to reorganize in ways that would have given them better federal protections.

Think about that as you then consider this.

In what I suspect was an unintended and fleeting moment of honesty, he admits in the interview that his industry didn’t “take it far enough” in evaluating the risks they had created for themselves and for the world economy.

So, which is it?

Too much regulation or too little?

By his own admission, Wall Street paid too little attention to risk. Why? Was it because they expected to be bailed out, thereby continuing to socialize all the risk while privatizing all the gains?

And, when the help didn’t come to him and Lehman Brothers?

Freidheim wants us to agree with him and blame Lehman’s collapse on the federal government.

Seriously, and on behalf of all Americans outside the 1/10th of 1% where you live, Mr. Freidheim, fuck you and all of your fellow Wall Streeters.

You all belong in jail.

Republican voters; stop ignoring reality

Voters across the spectrum who are outside the One Percent – but especially Republican voters – need to stop and understand what Freidheim and people like him are saying.

You Republican voters more than anyone need to understand what Republicans, bankers, ALEC, and all the Big Money power brokers are doing to this country because YOU’RE THE ONES VOTING FOR politicians who want LESS regulation of greedy, power-hungry, and soulless people like Dick Fuld, James “Jimmy” Cayne, Jamie Dimon, and now lesser-known cretins like Scott Freidheim.

You Republican voters more than anyone need to understand why Freidheim and his ilk want LESS REGULATION. Less regulation means they have more opportunities to take unwarranted risks knowing that they will keep all of their gains and that we’ll have to bail them out on their losses as the only way to “save the financial services industry” when next their greed and stupidity causes the next collapse thanks to people like Freidheim and his kind.

And most of all, you Republican voters more than anyone need to understand that you are not at all even a part of the concern of Republican politicians.

And, that absolutely includes the current leader of what is now the cult that is the Trumpublican Party.

Trump is not a Republican, neither are you, and none of them give a shit about you

Here’s a prime example of how Republicans hurt everyone.

Thanks to you Republican voters, The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S.2155) was signed into law by Trump. It de-fangs what was already not a strong enough post-collapse attempt to rein in the banks, Dodd-Frank.

As someone duped into believing you’re a Republican, you apparently bought the lie that undoing Dodd-Frank was a good move.

You were wrong. Again.

You Americans who think you’re a Republican were wrong in the 2016 election for believing you were voting for someone in Trump who was going to work for you and not the bankers. Honestly, you Republican voters should be ashamed of yourselves for being so gullible.

Not to worry, though.

November 2018 is your next chance to prove you aren’t the useful idiots of Republican politicians and Wall Streeters you act like by voting for them. All you have to do is to stop being your own worst enemy, and stop voting for the Party who has fucked you over your whole life.

Lefties, you’re responsible, too.

As for you self-proclaimed liberals and progressives who can’t seem to hate enough on the so-called “corporate” and “Wall Street” Democratic Party; here’s my advice to you.

Grow the fuck up.

You need to stop acting like some perverse combination of spoiled brat, self-righteous egomaniac, and puritanical zealot, and understand the difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies.

Yes, Democrats are imperfect. So are you.

Yes, some purple state Democrats in the House and Senate “disappointed” you again by voting for S.2155.

But understand this:

One, just ONE House Republican, voted against the bill.

Not a single Republican Senator cast a No vote. Not. One.

So, to my fellow social democrats, liberals, progressives, and everyone else on the left who is self-righteously banging your fists or holding your breath or acting like whatever spoiled and privileged lefty that you want to be, stop that shit right now.

Pull your heads out of your asses, and support any and every Democrat on every ballot.

Most of all, act like an informed and intelligent citizen, and vote in November for whomever has the ‘D’ next to their name…….unless, of course, you’re happy helping Republicans to keep control of local, state, and federal government.

No, Democrats aren’t perfect, but this is where you need to grow up. What they aren’t are Republicans.

If that’s not enough for you……I’m tempted to suggest an impossible solo sex act, but instead, know this.

You are looked at now and you will be considered by history when it’s written as just as much the source of our social, political, and economic problems as the duped 99-percenters who are voting for Republicans because you refuse to do what is required to end Republican rule.

 

Let’s #NeverForget915 and the Lies of Trickle-Down Economics

NeverForget915On 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.

UPDATE 9/16/2016:

I am no longer a supporter of any kind of Coffee Party USA. To understand why, click here.

http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

“Bankers Are Balking at a Proposed Rule on Capital” Gretchen Morgenson – The New York Times

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

“Over the next two months, the regulators proposing this rule will no doubt encounter a lobbying buzz saw. Mr. Hoenig (vice chairman of the F.D.I.C.) said he and his colleagues were bracing for that. Bankers, after all, prefer things just the way they are. They can load up on leverage to take risks and reap the rewards. But when losses abound? Well, they’re the taxpayers’ problem.” – Gretchen Morgenson, assistant business and financial editor and a columnist at the New York Times.

Greg Russak‘s insight:

Letting banks regulate themselves with what is called ‘risk-weighting’ didn’t work out so well in the past.

“This so-called risk-weighting approach was an abject failure. For example, the assumptions characterized the sovereign debt of Greece as risk-free, requiring that banks set aside no capital against those holdings for possible losses. The risk-weight system also determined, incorrectly, that highly rated mortgage securities fell low on the risk scale.”

Why shouldn’t banks be regulated up to their eye-balls? How can we think bankers can be trusted now?

Either they are horrible at analyzing risk and need lots and lots of oversight or, more likely, they know that in an under-regulated environment they can privatize any gains and socialize all their losses back to us through future federal bailouts.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/business/bankers-are-balking-at-a-proposed-rule-on-capital.html?ref=gretchenmorgenson&_r=0

Wall Street’s Socialists

Take a good look.

Exchange floor

These are the real Socialists in America today(1).

No, not Socialism in the text-book definition of the word. I mean something more heinous:  a dystopian form of capitalism in which all the gains are privatized and all the losses are socialized.

The New York Times reported that when Bernanke said, “…the economy could soon be strong enough to live with less of its stimulus, the markets threw their version of a tantrum.”

Why is that? Why do the all-knowing and all-powerful “invisible hands” on Wall Street who control the world’s finances and our so-called free market start wringing those hands and selling off stock at the thought of fewer stimulus dollars?

Shouldn’t they be overjoyed? What happened to all the confidence they profess to have that capitalists and corporations would thrive if they were simply left to their own devices?

And, where are the cheers from the GOP, tea partiers, and Randians on the right for Bernanke’s announcement?

Why are “investors” (and let’s be clear, they don’t mean us) selling stocks when corporate profits are generally at historic highs?

I know. Buy low, sell high. So, has the high been reached? Could it be that those highs have been achieved at least in part because there was federal stimulus being pumped into the economy?

Could it be that Wall Street is having their tantrum now because they know the truth: that tapering back now is a bad idea? After all, some really smart people who have won Nobel Prizes for how much they know about economics have been telling us that the recovery hasn’t been all that great – except on some paper and in reality for an infinitesimally small number of people – precisely because there has been too little stimulus.

Wall Streeters and banksters are a lot of things. One thing they are not is stupid. They know that corporations won’t do so well once the Federal Reserve tapers back.

They have to know what many of us know:  that on some very disturbing levels austerity has proven to be a complete failure. Austerity does not lead to growth. If the Feds curtail stimulus now without a healthy, prosperous, and confident middle class, the whole charade of corporate profitability will be revealed and proven to be unsustainable.

Can’t you just see Wall Street coming back to the federal government again to be bailed out?

Let’s hope that this sell-off wakes up our elected leaders. Wall Street needs much more and much tougher regulation, and they need it now. The big banks created out of the fiasco that was the GOP and W administration – yes, it’s still his and their fault and always will be despite all the attempts to rewrite or ignore history – need to be broken up, and they need to be regulated under new Glass-Steagall-like regulations on steroids.

Our only hope as citizens will be to vote for politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown who also believe that our society requires a stronger government that protects us from the unfettered greed of people running banks and big corporations. It is their big and dark money, and the influence it has over our politicians, that represents the real threat to our society.

(1) I’m not claiming that the gentlemen specifically pictured above are socialists. I don’t know them or their politics. This is merely symbolic metaphor.

Sources:

A Fit of Pique on Wall Street, New York Times, June 21, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/business/economy/a-fit-of-pique-on-wall-street.html

‘Whale-sized’ Proof That Wall Street Can’t Be Trusted

Image
Michael /Cavanagh and Douglas Braunstein swear into a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 15th, 2013. -Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wall Street is proving once again that they simply cannot be trusted. What is required is even greater and stronger regulation, not less. We also need laws that expeditiously put bankers in jail for the kinds of willfully unethical actions undertaken by JP Morgan senior managers in the London Whale escapade.

Few of us are likely to read a 307-page Senate report. Instead, read Gretchen Morgenson’s New York Times article, “JP Morgan’s Follies, for All to See” from March 16.

Wall Street remains out of control. In fact, they are now a greater threat to stability in the global economy than before the crash they caused just five short years ago.

It’s also important to understand and admit that Dodd-Frank is not strong enough despite any accusations over its supposedly onerous overreach.

What other conclusions can anyone come to when the government seems powerless to foresee and forestall the world’s largest derivatives trader, a firm described as “the bank that enjoys the best reputation among its peers,” from acting with this kind of hubris, impunity, and disregard for ethical conduct?

The Senate report disproves this premise <that Dodd-Frank would make the banking system safer> with vigor.

Its pages of e-mails, testimony, telephone transcripts and analysis show that traders in the bank’s chief investment office hid money-losing derivatives positions, if only temporarily; that risk limits created by the bank to protect itself were exceeded routinely; that risk models were changed to minimize losses; that bank executives misled investors and the public; and that regulations are only as good as the regulators enforcing them.

What can we do about it? For starters, we can make our voices heard.

The people in DC are supposed to work for us. A few like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are demonstrating through word and deed that they do represent citizens first.

What’s corrupting the vast majority of politicians and our government is money. Big Money. Money that was, to be sure, always there, but money that is now exponentially larger and more dangerous because of the sheer amounts, the lack of transparency about its sources, and the influence it is having on lawmakers as a result of the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court.

As citizens, we are well within our rights – in fact, we have a duty – to call or write to your elected leaders to ask – and to demand, if we must – to know what their positions are on Citizens United. You can find your Senator here and your Representative here.

Here’s an even easier way.

Get involved in the movement to overturn Citizens United.

Help spread the word and throw your support behind groups of like-minded citizens like BeTheWave, Represent.Us, MAYDAY.US, Wolf-PAC.com, and Coffee Party USA.  Join forces and pressure our elected officials to take a stand on Citizens United one way or the other. Every Senator and every Representative needs to be on record so voters will know if the candidate represents our concerns as citizens or the concerns of Big Money.

We need to vote for and support Senators and Representatives who want to break up the banks, not defend and deregulate them further. We can see where that leads. What we need are elected officials who will build up and build upon Dodd-Frank so that we have some sort of 21st century version of Glass-Steagall.

History really does repeat itself, doesn’t it? It happens exclusively because we refuse to study it and learn from it. Among the many excellent posts by John Cashon, the one titled “Franklin Roosevelt, an advocate for the people” is highly recommended as one that will help the reader to understand the similarities between the early 20th century and the early 21st century.

Unless and until our laws change, the people most responsible for tanking our economy five years ago and who are putting our economy at risk again are not going to change their behavior. And so long as politicians care more about raising incredible amounts of money – and feathering their nests for a post-electorate career in the private sector – than they do about representing us, the necessary laws have only a small chance of getting sponsored and passed.

Still, we cannot and should not give up or stay silent. As citizens, we must demand that government take a stronger and more active stance to protect us from a financial system whereby gains are privatized and losses are socialized.

Image
Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936. – from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression

The concerns about today’s financial services sector are not hyperbole conjured out of thin air. Wall Street and the free market have proven once again that they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. The “invisible hand” really does require a strong and very visible counter-balancing force that comes only from government and only through regulation, oversight, legislation, and when necessary, significant punishment under the law.

The unregulated and unfettered capitalists who caused the financial collapse of 80 years ago knew no limits to their hubris. Their progeny seems not to have any today.

In borrowing the words of FDR, we should welcome their hatred for our desire to want to stop them from wrecking the economy over and over and over again. We should throw our full support behind those candidates who would equally embrace the “hatred” of Wall Street while they work to increase regulation and overturn Citizens United.

(Updated 9/12/2015)