You may have noticed falling wages, job layoffs, costly foreign wars, the mortgage crisis and bank bailout, ever–rising prices. But have you seen the connection? Chances are, you don’t know a tenth of what is going on. In this piece, I will provide a number of insights and links to further readings. You may want to fasten your seatbelt.
You may remember the innocent days when bank robbers hit banks with tommy guns. Well, today, the robbers are dressed in suits and ties, work FOR the banks, and are coming for you and me. At the tip of the visible iceberg, we find our U.S. presidents.
Things started going downhill under the still much–beloved Ronald Reagan. By backstabbing the unions and deregulating business all over our country, he pulled out some very important stops, all under the misguided notion that this would rev up the economy by aiding businesses. However, government regulation is what keeps the players in big business honest. So this was the wrong way to help businesses. This is something which small-government proponents tend to overlook. Government (when it’s not corrupt) is a kind of citizen’s militia keeping us safe from unscrupulous business tycoons. So are the unions, or rather were, when they still had real power as institutions who could give pushback to irresponsible CEOs and lobby our political representatives — before those politicians switched to represent the much more money-rich big banks and corporations instead of the American people after, in 1978, the predecessor of Citizens United redefined corporate bribes of our politicians as “free speech”.
King Bush I was an oil baron who baited Saddam Hussein into the invasion of Kuwait, so he could then abuse our armed forces to try to make an oil field grab in oil-rich Iraq (the first Gulf War), a move certainly in line with the oil industry’s war profiteer, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. One of Bush’s sons, Little George W., was never satisfied with the outcome, so he would later arrange for a rematch. Who pays the bills for such wars? Do you know that half of our government’s discretionary spending goes into our military expenses? And who pays the government? Find out on April 15th.
Bill Clinton then pulled out another big stop with NAFTA, the free trade agreement that would destroy countless Mexican agricultural jobs, sending many of the desperate unemployed hordes of Mexicans across the border to us, at the same time that NAFTA moved many of our industrial jobs to Mexico, a template for future trade agreements which moved many more American jobs to Asia. Faithful Bill also buried the Glass-Steagall Act, which, since the Great Depression caused by gambling banksters, had stopped the big banks from gambling with our savings. So, as soon as the dot-com bubble burst (incidentally ruining my most rewarding career through no fault of my own), the banksters moved on to mortgage speculation and selling bad mortgages fraudulently as reliable securities to investors, a crime which would later give us the Great Recession of 2008. Thanks, Bill!
Then came King Bush II, yes little G.W. who was never really elected into office, and his “mentor”, the oh–so–honest war profiteer Dick Cheney. Yes, Honest Dick was back from his kick-backs collection at Halliburton and ready, with little G.W., to engage in Gulf War 2.0, which has cost countless lives (including thousands of American soldiers) and cost us an arm and a leg in tax money, which has been going to the military industrial complex. A big beneficiary of this, naturally, was Cheney’s long-time partner and government contractor, Halliburton. I hope you are not holding on to the story that this was all about weapons of mass destruction, are you?
The next president, Obama, went right ahead and expanded our foreign wars in a low-key kind of way. But, Obama was Bank-Barack, big banks having been his major donors. So, it was time for big favors to the banks, again. The bank bailout, which his predecessor had gotten started, went right through with President Obankster. He went right along with bailing out the big banks (rather than the people) after they tanked the world’s economy. The bailout used our (the people’s!) hard-earned tax dollars to keep the banksters afloat after their bad mortgages blew up, while doing next–to–nothing for the many of us who lost our homes, jobs, pensions, and careers. And that wasn’t all! Unlike in prior bubble bursts, none of the culprits went to jail. Obama’s administration saw to that! Indictments were not even attempted! Obama, who had received massive campaign contributions from the banksters in 2008 as the banking crisis was brewing; who – just like Trump – made many bankster appointments; and who gave Goldman Sachs a $20 billion tax dollar gift (a handsome return on their 2008 campaign investment of $994,795 wouldn’t you say?); was a straw man of the big banks in the Oval Office, just like Trump is now.
Last in line, then, comes The Donald with a growing count of Goldman Sachs appointees. Goldman Sachs, if you don’t know, is probably the most criminal of all investment banks. It’s Wikipedia entry looks like an FBI rap sheet. And last time I checked, Wikipedia wasn’t a criminal investigator. Trump has also ordered a Dodd-Frank review in effort to roll back the financial regulation, which was supposed to prevent another 2008 debacle. (I don’t think it’s strong enough, but at least it was something.)
The whole thing doesn’t stop with our presidents, though. As I mentioned, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Look at the party opposition, for the moment, the “Democratic” arm of DemPublican party. Did you hear of Tom Perez being selected (don’t call high brass selections elections, please!) as the new DNC chair? Not only did bankster-friendly Obama threw his weight around to shoe him into the contest when it looked like the Sanders-friendly Keith Ellison would get the position, a big No-No for our oligarchy which prefers Clinton-friendly establishment operatives like Perez. The “Democratic” party has obliged our oligarchs for the last three decades, so Obama had to act. Ellerson is also an establishment operative, but he presents himself in a progressive light, and the DNC didn’t so much as throw a bone to progressive voters. Assuring the oligarchs was more important to them. Well, and then there is the cozy relationship with the big banks… His sponsor’s (Obama’s) relationship with the big banks, is a clear link of Perez to the banksters. But there is more. Perez has already an established record of not taking on the banks; both at the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor. An article in The Interceptgoes over Perez’ record and concludes: “Both Perez and Ellison support pro-labor policies. But Ellison shows that he also wants to oppose concentrated financial power. Perez represents the finance-friendly status quo that has relegated Democrats to minority status.”
Why am I going on about politician’s connections and gifts to our big banks? Well, as isn’t all that well known by most, our big banks are a major force in the slaughter of our economy by the vile modern forms of capitalism, not just during the temporary period of time that gave us the Great Recession. You see, not much is left of the traditional capitalism we were raised to see, at least partly, as a positive force: the kind which built industrial production, in the process creating much abundance and even jobs (although unions and politicians had to step in to make sure the jobs were safe and financially rewarding). Today, however, the raiding of our wallets by big business comes in many new forms:
crony capitalism which turns our government (and, thereby, our taxes) into a cash cow for big banks and corporations, including our health insurance, pharmaceutical, and military industries;
predatory capitalism where countless jobs are sold offshore and the remaining domestic jobs’ wages are cut to meet offshore slave labor wages, or – in another variant – new CEOs come in, lay off lots of people to show a profit on the books gained by cuts in wages, and then leave as rich men with a big bonus even as the company may be crumbling from its loss of skilled labor;
casino capitalism where big banksters and other Wall Street thugs gamble with company shares, mortgages, and so forth (including hedge funds) to make profit without actually producing anything (except for the occasional market crash); and
other forms of parasitic capitalism where the big banks not only bleed us dry over mortgages of cars and houses which we (not the banks!) build, but also play the commodities market to artificially raise all our consumer prices until life for more and more of us, already endangered by our stagnating or sinking wages, becomes unaffordable. (There is a short article which illuminates the latter trick. It’s a good entry into the subject of banks’ parasitism to help open people’s eyes: “Parasite Capitalism: The Economic Model of the 21st Century”)
In defense from the banks – and for CEOs to better push for even bigger personal gains (making 300-500 times their average worker’s income now) – companies today play the game of buying back their own stocks, which raises their stocks’ prices, a business statistic which then is used by our smarmy politicians and mass media pundits to tell us that our economy is growing and our lives are wonderful, even as our incomes keep sinking and our living costs rising.
Basically, at all high levels of business and politics, our decline in morals has led to corruption in its most unscrupulous and rapacious form being the new business model. It’s capitalism on steroids, and it’s everywhere.
Is your head spinning, yet? I hope you are realizing that the thieves are coming at us from all possible directions nowadays — and they aren’t just the growing number of identity thieves and credit card hackers in organized crime. No, for the most parts, they are people in business suits, hacking no computers and wielding no guns. They are hacking our economy itself. They are our economic system’s oligarchs and their political class minions situated in both major parties, plutocrats and kleptocrats all of them. Thieves by any other word, and not the thieves from which law enforcement protects us. To the contrary, since they are in the seats of power, they make the laws and command our law enforcement to make it protect them.
It is, therefore, entirely up to us to fight back and clean house. And since the thieves are coming from all possible directions, we must fight in all possible directions, as well. While the traditional way of just voting, for example, no longer accomplishes much with most of our candidates having been selected by our corrupt establishment via private instead of public campaign financing, long before they ever appear on our ballots (there’s a witty and astute TEDx Talk about it), there are, nevertheless, many ways to fight back for our growing number of awakened Americans. Examples are anti-corruption ballot initiatives (although they may fail the first time), efforts to list or put up honest candidates (see also Our Revolution) or create a viable new party out of the wreckage of one arm of our party duopoly, growing the Green Party, or the time-honored tradition of striking fear into those who all-too-easily bend to corruption when they feel safe behind closed doors (specifically our politicians).
I invite you to join the fight against the thieves. Just be careful not to let yourselves be co-opted by false friends in politics. From now on, we must stay alert.