Saturday, February 19, 2011

Them That Don't, Shall Lose

God Bless The Child

[Q]uestions of basic economic justice, and war and peace... [have] moved so far right that we have a political discourse which would have been largely unrecognizable a generation ago. The first step toward changing that situation is recognizing it for what it is.
-- Paul Campos, 'Single-Wing Politics', (Via Whiskeyfire)
Lawyers, Guns and Money; February 12, 2011
"Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story ... Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that."
-- Matt Tabibi, 'Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?'
Rolling Stone, March 3, 2011 Issue

The collapse of America's financial structure between 2007 and the present (because it isn't over; did you think it was?) has been the result of unregulated greed and arrogance -- personal, and corporate.

It was allowed by a political structure deeply corrupted by an addiction to power and personal wealth. Their complicity was purchased by the financial industry -- and with relatively minuscule amounts of money, compared with the profits made by corporate banks; financial trading houses; insurance, real estate, construction, and mortgage companies -- all as deeply corrupted and addicted to wealth, acquisition and power as their political hirelings.

However, even though the causes and effects of this disaster are clear, and those responsible can be identified ... the government has chosen not to hold them accountable -- but to reward them, by giving them essentially free loans to protect their businesses. They took the money, did little the government wanted them to do, and have continued behaving very much as before.

But of The Masters Of The Universe who run America's financial empire, no one was indicted, no one has been tried, and no one will go to prison.

Banks Too Big To Fail;
Justice Too Insignificant To Win

Bernard Madoff goes to prison. A trader here and there who breaks the rules about insider information will go to prison. One hundred-plus Physicians and Nurses will be prosecuted for Medicare fraud. But the players who have effectively destabilized the global economy, while making themselves and their friends into multi-Billionaires -- will never be held accountable. They simply continue to become more wealthy, protected, and coddled.

This is the truth: They Got Away With It. It's at variance with public messages of America as a nation of laws, where the rights of all persons except enemies of the State, the disenfranchised, the poor, or those without connections are respected, and where every person and every institution who can afford to purchase justice are equal before those laws.

This is at variance with what most people have been taught as children about the difference between Right and Wrong. It's a breach of commonly-held societal ethics, the cooperative, shared fabric most people inhabit in order to get through their day. It doesn't correlate with the messages in film and teevee and novels: You break the law; you're caught; in some way, you're punished.

That the Masters Of The Universe have not been held accountable is a message to everyone: If the crime is big enough enough, brazen enough, you will face no penalty; and you may be rewarded. Because things aren't fair, and the world really is arranged to favor the strong over the weak, the rich over the poor: I Got Mine, Baby; And Screw Everyone But Me And Thee... And Maybe You, Too.

Sacrifice Your Children To The Jaguar God

America finally realizes it has a massive National Debt -- created primarily by fiscal and foreign policies of the Right since 1981, which lowered corporate taxes, protected the wealthy and (covertly or overtly) waged endless war. If America doesn't reduce that Debt, our economy will implode; so, government spending and national priorities will have to be reallocated.

And, rather than raise taxes, our political class claims the only true way to reduce the Debt is by curtailing or even destroying the social safety nets developed to protect the weakest and most vulnerable of our population. It's as if the monster those same politicians assisted in creating now has to be fed, almost literally, with human sacrifices.

High unemployment, lowered standards of living for the majority of the population; fiscal policies which widen the gulf between the wealthy and everyone else -- these are already becoming the 'New Normal', and if the political Right forces enactment of a New Austerity in the Federal Budget, it will be graven in stone as national policy -- and the Right will claim credit as a 'wise, bipartisan compromise' to end the 'fiscal irresponsibility' of a loony, Socialist Left, whom they allege is running the country.

It won't matter that this is a lie. The wealthiest of our population will continue to be catered to. Likewise, our corporations. Our political class will see to it that the effects of the financial disaster will be paid for by everyone else -- Them that has, Gets; Them that don't, shall Lose. The weak culls will fall by the wayside as nature intended. It's natural law.

The Budget: Which Vision Of Government Wins?

Rightist social Darwinism was the reasoning behind putting Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and later Medicare and Medicaid, in place. FDR and the Democrats recognized that Capital's Boom-and-Bust business cycles were systemic, and only by creating some minimal, safe harbor could a government ensure that the elderly didn't starve in the streets, and the poor wouldn't die from disease.

And it seemed proper that taxation -- for business, for individuals -- would contribute to a collective solution for a repeating issue: Excess Risk in the business sector, periodically placing the country's economy (and the stability of most of the population) in jeopardy.

Even with the obvious social benefits to the American population, the fight to pass these ideas into law were symbolic of the Right, and Left's, vision of what the national government's relationship with it's people were about.

Social Security, Unemployment, and Medicare-Medicaid were compacts between a national government and its citizens: You, the individual, matter. Your health, welfare and security are your government's first concerns -- and your income, social status, race, religion, gender, or political beliefs are irrelevant. You're all important as human beings and citizens of America; we won't let you suffer. We'll be there to help you.

It's been taught that this philosophy of government is a natural extension of America's uniqueness, that it reflects our all-embracing equality. We've been told this perspective of the national government viz. The People sets our nation apart -- makes us better than Venezuelan Banana Republics, the Russias or Italys run by Oligarchs like private clubs; and the Zimbabwean, African strong-man-style dictatorships. We're Americans; we're better than that.

Government Is For Losers

But for our Owner Class, and the political Right, that's not what government is for. Their worldview favors the individual, not the collective, good. It benefits those who Have, and those who don't are free to show some guts and claw their way up: Nature, Competition; red in tooth and claw, is how the world works -- god's way of winnowing the Elect from the rest of us, who (in the best Puritan, Calvinist tradition) are just bound for hellfire anyway.

The Right's politicians, the Villagers in D.C., America's corporate noveau riche and the old-money wealthy only want the Gravy Train to continue. The wealthy want to live quiet, rich, full lives in secluded splendor, as generations before them have done. They don't care what goes on, outside.

Corporations want the ability to operate their enterprises as they see fit, with any regulation essentially for show: They could care less if the future has the pernicious smell of a Love Canal, the strange, bad taste of Wright County Eggs, or all the safety of a Toyota Camry; it's about Free Enterprise, Baby! They feel their Federal and State taxes are far too high. They want the FDA, FTSB, EPA and SEC off their backs, and they want consumers to pay higher prices. Because.

National government, in the opinion of these people, should return to what it was immediately after 1865 -- unobtrusive, largely unseen. Social programs and restrictive legislation are wasteful. They benefit people whose contributions to the world are minimal at best. And it restricts free enterprise through unfair taxation and science no one cares about; it harms the ability to amass wealth and pass it down intact to one's heirs: It's a family thing.

America, they will tell you, was created by strong individuals with vision, who directed our workers national energies by paying pittance wages and offering no benefits for generations until forced to do so toward a bright future. They've dreamed of killing the "Socialism" of FDR and the New Deal, the Kennedys, and LBJ having the clock rolled back for almost eighty years. Now (and please God, I hope not), they might get their wish.

Remember To Bow As They Pass

If and when the country subsides into a dark cycle of poverty and ignorance for everyone except those who can afford to avoid it, and if their comfort is built on a mountain of suffering, the virtual indentured servitude of others... Does anyone believe they'll care? Do they show that they care now?

The rest of us will have to be satisfied with lower expectations for clean water and air, housing; safe food; good basic education; safe neighborhoods or public places, and medical care beyond aspirins, bandaids and Mercurochrome. And, that the highest aspirations of our children may be to one day rise high enough to serve and personally kiss the asses of The Masters Of The Universe.

Not that all this is any great surprise, you understand.

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