Monday, March 23, 2009

Arrogance, Incompetent Congressmen, and Greedy Financiers

I am confused, peeved, decimated, and I am not going to take it anymore. If the Robber Barons were despicable by their reputations as documented in our early history, Wall Street and Corporate America are the Global Pirates of the twenty-first century. It takes a unique individual to systematically fleece America's financial services to the point of total annihilation of the system – my thoughts are that the closest comparison is a ‘pimp and his whore’. Graft in the form of campaign donations to Congress has been the other contributing factor that becomes more apparent as we uncover more of what Congress has done with the cognizance of the last two presidents, and finally; it could not have been accomplished without the exclusive participation of Wall Street’s financiers.

Initially, I was confused. It was apparent to me that Real Estate investments were the hottest thing in the late nineties; our point of contact at our banking company was so caught up in mix that he moved money from our banking accounts into a real estate mutual fund without consulting us. What I didn’t understand at the time is how deep the financial center of our universe was involved; how the safeguards that were normally in place had been circumvented, and how the resultant would affect me.

Congress has not been involved with protecting the interest of the American public. The most significant factor was Clinton’s signing of legislation that sowed the seeds of deregulation with the Commodities Market Futures Act - thanks to Mr. Phil Gramm. The next president seemed to not want to care or show any interest in what Wall Street was doing. We all remember... "Wall Street got drunk". For Bush, the main indicator for the inference that the economy was ‘fundamentally sound’ – the level of the DOW Index – was all that he needed to see on a daily basis. Those that understood what the Federal Reserve was doing, in the form of rate adjustments to keep the real estate market cooking, simply said nothing. It became apparent to me that we were about to see behind the curtain when Mr. Greenspan decided abruptly to retire. I whispered to my wife… well, the other shoe is about to drop.

Wall Street, the other piece of the pie, is being forced to take money from government officials in hopes that the banking system will dutifully apply these resources in the best interest of the banking system and our financial institutions. Bad mistake! Greed from within the banking system is the root cause of our predicament. Corporate greed, to be more specific, is so irresponsible that it borders on the bizarre. Ten years ago I worked for a major telecommunications company as a cable splicer – a top pay job within the hierarchy of that major telecommunications company. The CEO of that major telecommunications company was making twenty-two hundred times my base pay of one thousand fifty dollars per week, or two million, three hundred ten thousand dollars annually. The inequity of that example can be applied throughout Corporate America when you consider that was just his base pay; we are not counting his stock options and other compensations – this was a yearly thing!

The middle-class, those making between fifty to seventy thousand dollars annually – union protected jobs – were systematically destroyed by the Republican Party. Reagan’s example with the Air Controllers was the blueprint used by first Newt Gingrich, and then Carl Rove and company to rip the heart out of collective bargaining and the American way. Considering that cash flow within the financial system is imperative to the growth of jobs, middle-class wage-earners were the fuel in the economic equation that kept this country going during the last eight years. When it became apparent that out-sourcing and union busting had taken their toll, Greenspan saw the handwriting on the wall and exited stage left.

The efforts of Congress, the Treasury Department, and Wall Street have thus far been less than adequate in solving this problem. Congress needs to legislate (regulate) the financial centers of America – Banking institutions, Credit Cards institutions, and Mortgage Bankers need to be reined in with force. The Treasury Department has to step up to the plate and hit nothing less than a homerun in solving the critical situation regarding the ‘toxic assets’. Wall Street has to demonstrate accountability by realizing that without truthfulness there is no bottom to the market as currently configured.

Finally, it should be understood that one of the good things about the two party system of America is the possibility of presenting an alternative point of view for consideration. This has not been the case in the days since Obama became President. I would urge the GOP to get with the program and earn their keep, less they be associated with the likes of Hooverism in this day and age. You simply can't just say 'no' and be considered a thinking person. For sure, the current actions, or should I say inactions by the GOP simply doesn't bring credit to that party.

In a democracy, silence is not golden; it is condonance in the face of injustices; it is fear, where the thought of reprisal fosters control.

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