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Heads on Pikes

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If you’ve been outside of a cave in the last few days, chances are that you’ve heard about Lehman Brothers, the latest of the investment firms to fail miserably due to the incredible sham that has been the American housing market. Early news today is showing that foreign markets are starting to fail, and it looks as though AIG may be the next major dropping point.

I’m not sure exactly how low this goes, but my guess is that we’re going to pay for those crooked brokers and investment bankers. Everyone is losing, and losing hard.

There are a few great myths of American culture. One is “house equals security”. In case anyone has been paying attentiont to record foreclosure rates, that’s a crock of crap these days. Another one is “investing is safe and prudent”. That particular turd has been shoved down our throats by the very fuckers who are trying in vain to have us bail them out. Who hasn’t seen commercials filled with happy, young, vibrant Americans, saving for their future by investing with (insert failing investment bank name here)? Of course, we’ve been busy deregulating everything, so it’s not like we shouldn’t have seen this one coming a mile away. That whirring sound you hear is FDR spinning in his grave.

Don’t even get me started on the whole college thing, either. I think I was about 14 the last time I seriously believed any of that was about *learning*. It’s about hedging your bets — I “bet” I can pay off these massive school loans with the job I’ll get from the degree I’m earning. If you can’t, you get to spend the rest of your days working for some large financial institution. You have to pay for it, sooner or later. To quote someone I read recently: “Slavery is slavery no matter how nicely the master treats you.”

“What about heads and pikes”, you may ask… Well, back in the day, there was a very terrible ruler named Vlad the Impaler. When his country was about to be overrun by a Turkish army, Vlad implaled twenty thousand of his own people on pikes. The very sight of this led the Turkish army to avoid Wallachia altogether.

The thing that I’ve been wondering for quite some time is: why isn’t anyone being held accountable? Executives who are suckling enormous quantities of funds into places which they know are bad investments are walking away with hundreds of millions of dollars in “golden parachutes”, some of which are bankrolled by irritated taxpayers like myself. It’s kind of like I walked up to a co-worker, shit on their desk, burned down their house, then walked away with an extra special performance bonus. If any of these people were held accountable for this, perhaps they wouldn’t continue to behave in such an irresponsible way. It would be far too much for me to think that we could ever strip all assets and benefits from executives like that asshole Schwartz, who did nothing other than bomb a company out, to walk away with an enormous sum of money?

Or perhaps an angry mob of investors who have lost their retirements and life savings based on happy-looking television advertisements could tear one of these people to shreds in a parking lot. Not that I’d ever advocate it…. I’m just as surprised as everyone else that it hasn’t happened yet.

UPDATE: If anyone would like to focus some unmitigated anger at someone, try Phil Gramm, the guy who brought you the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Did I forget to mention he’s John McDud’s current economic advisor?

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