I've been silent the last few days because the news around our financial meltdown and subsequent plans for recovery have blown away all the crap I was going to ruminate on before.
And boy is this a lot of news. We're being told that we need to fork over somewhere near a trillion dollars (that's $1,000,000,000,000.00) Further, we're told that unless we give this money to the treasury (which intends to give it all to Wall Street) without oversight or preconditions, we'll doom the economy and all our savings to certain ruin. Even further, we are not to encumber this gift with any provisions that might soften the blow to those outside Wall Street, like allowing bankruptcy judges to change the rules for those mortgagees who took out unsound loans. No, we are just to take it as written.
There have been a lot of good things written recently about this USA PATRIOT Act for banks, this Authorization of Treasury Force. In the words or one anonymous lawmaker
, it is a "blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers" who have given us the Iraq war, Katrina, and, yes, the current financial collapse. Robert Reich
lays out the kinds of reforms that should be tacked on to any bailout. Krugman
remains a useful skeptic.
And it looks like the Democrats are paying attention. Pelosi may actually have a spine
. That's encouraging, but I think we need to dig a bit deeper.
This failure is not about some handful of mistakes made by a few bankers that somehow lead to catastrophic failure. This is about structural failure, about a systematic destruction of those safeguards meant to defend us from this kind of bullshit, traded for the wealth of a few. If there is anything that should come from this massive scandal, it should be the death of Conservative, Laissez-Faire economic ideology, the final evidence of the moral evil of Thatcherite deregulation. Obama has surprised me with his frontal assault on the Ownership Society lie, and it is now more than at any other time that this kind of challenge to the ideology of unadulterated Capitalism must be given voice. We kill this beast now or we live and die by it for who knows how many more decades.