Friday, July 31, 2009

Note to Congress: GROW SOME BALLS!

My ire level is raised this morning - and if I had ever been able to absorb the color-coded messages of our national security alert system, I'd apply the most stressed-out federal color to my own particular sense of security right now. But in my mind, the colors of our national security alert system remain blended in a melange of beige; thus I'll label my color red.

Not commy red (that's been out of style since The Wall came tumbling down) - not red-state red, though I'm on board, this morning, with their loathing of government.

I'm seeing rage-red today. Flaming hot flickers of red hot rage. Enough to make me want to raise a fling a bunch of verbal pitchforks at people.

My ire level is raised today simply because I made the mistake of perusing the news. Here's a sampling of what I've read:

WaPo's Bonuses beat profits as bank industry imploded. A news story (but didn't we know this already?) informing us that the NY AG has determined that $32.6 billion in bonuses were handed out to bank execs at companies that lost $81 billion.

Remind me again why a bonus is granted to people who lost large amounts of money? And why tax dollars are needed to pay these bonuses?

Another irritation: David Brook's review of David Wessel's new book, In Fed We Trust. Though Wessel recounts a "tale replete with error," apparently, according to Brooks, this book is "not the story of failure. It is the story of effective muddling through."

Muddling through - effectively. Somehow I expect better from our leaders. Why? Good question, given the overwhelming evidence of mediocrity from private and public sector leaders.

And of course my white whale of a whopper - my Moby Dick - the thing I want to harpoon more than anything is Goldman Sachs. The mainstream media seems to accept Goldman's bragging rights as a successful and "profitable" financial institution despite evidence to the contrary (just as it accepted without question that there were WMDs in Iraq.) They seem to believe that the fed's largess to Goldman existed of that measly $10 billion loan that Paulson made them take - and that they paid back (with interest.)

But apparently, that was just a teeny tiny drop in a bottomless bucket of charity they've received from the government. Elliot Spitzer keeps bringing it up - that Goldman had warrants and access to low cost loans and the $29 billion backed by the FDIC's temporary liquidity guarantee program - but no one seems interested in hearing what the disgraced pariah has to say.

And other people write about it too, but we seem intent on ignoring this story in Mother Jones and this story in New York Magazine, both of which paint a picture of Goldman as a rapacious raptor feeding on the carrion kill that was once America.

So if we want to believe that we've turned the corner because our federally subsidized financial system can pay itself outrageous bonuses, that's fine, I guess. It goes with the territory of being American these days. Because we seem to live in a fantasy land these days, a mirage shimmering with deception and lies.

Just as we believed the housing bubble would never burst (just what the hell are they teaching over at Harvard's business school?!), just as we believed loans made to people who couldn't pay them would see fabulous yields forever (and they did bring in fabulous profits - for a time, but when the loans came due and the house of cards tumbled, the people responsible for the disaster got bailed out) - we seem to believe that profit that is the result of a massive federal subsidy - and only the result of a massive federal subsidy - is a sign of good health in the financial sector.

And these fine, upstanding business people who made $3+ billion in the quarter should be allowed without question to set aside $6+ billion in bonuses for that same period.

And I wonder - where the hell are the representatives of the people? Our elected officials? Why don't they make a stand and regulate these institutions in a way that protects the American economy, not destroy it?

I don't have to look to far to find out. Here in Illinois, we've got but one senator, Dick Durbin. Yes, I know Roland Burris will get a pension for life for his lameduck senate term, but he's the modern day equivalent of Ellison's Invisible Man.

So we have one senator in Illinois - the vocal Mr. Durbin and not long ago, he was quoted on a Chicago radio program as saying:

"And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

They frankly own the place, my senator said publicly, without reprisal or even without attempting to take back ownership.

WTF?! DO YOUR F*CKING JOB SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES - which is not to take as much money from lobbyists but to represent the will of the people who elected you. And in Illinois and in most states outside of NY, I'll bet you'll be hard pressed to find a large group of people eager to hand over tax dollars to bonus the G-men.

So my message to all of the members of Congress - to ALL the political leaders who represent the voice of the people - not just the lobbyists who shower them with money - GROW SOME BALLS. Take charge. Halt the sale of the government to the lobbyists.

Or the country you preside over will vanish, like all mirages vanish, replaced by the reality of a desert that was once America.


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