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Wall Street, Occupied

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Finally, there’s some sort of populist anger against the bastards who tanked the economy in 2008 to pad their pockets. It’s just too bad that there isn’t a cohesive set of demands to go along with all of that rage.

For too long, media-created “populists” like the teabaggers have railed against liberal policies, diversity, and government in general to attempt to explain the uncontrolled collapse of the United States’ economy. I’ve heard explainations (discredited, of course), ranging from the Community Reinvestment Act to “too much regulation”, but I find it rather difficult to understand why the Occupy Wall Street protesters seem myopically obsessed with the Bush Tax Cuts and the Citizens United decisions — as if they caused this clusterfuck. Make no mistake, both are odious; one for draining our reserves and forcing us into “emergency” austerity measures for the sake of bolstering the top 1% of Americans (Bush Tax Cuts), and the other for removing the common man’s political power by allowing money, disproportionately held by the top 1% of Americans, to unduly influence the political process (Citizens United).

The root causes of the economic downturn are far, far simpler. We can explain some of it through the greed of multinational corporations, who choose to outsource labor, decrease benefits, and shunt money away from their labor pool to benefit investors and the parasite investor class to an onerous degree. We can explain it through a systematic dismantling of financial system regulations which have been in place since the aftermath of the Great Depression, including, but not limited to: the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 (Carter), the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 (Reagan), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 (Clinton) and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (Clinton). Let’s not forget our ol’ pal Dubya, with his OCC tricks and gutting the regulatory system. Make no mistake, the primary causes of this clusterfuck are the greed of the banks and the fact that our leadership has been making it much easier for banks to have their way with you, virtually regulation-free. And they’ve been working at it for at least thirty years.

Putting aside greed and deregulation — banks (being considered the hypothetical sociopathic “persons”) — are bastards. Real bastards. Let’s take the example of Bank of America, which is (at the moment) one of the most hated financial institutions in the United States, with the possible exception of Goldman Sachs. I was listening to the radio this morning, and a spokesman for some shill PR group for the consumer banking industry was railing on about “regulations from Washington” and “that Dick Durbin” forcing the poor, helpless banks to institute five dollar a month ATM/debit card usage fees. I think that my rage culminated in his line about how he thought government regulations were hurting banks, evidenced by the mass layoffs at Bank of America. Let’s remember that those layoffs aren’t going to touch the parasite investor class’s ROI, and definitely not the CEO-level compensation or bonus package structure. Nope, not at all. Also, the shills for the banking industry don’t want us to remember that they don’t really make their money off of ATM or usage fees — they’re just a byproduct of suckering you into giving them your money.

Banks make money off of “fractional reserve lending/banking“. They essentially loan money into existence, but it requires a certain fraction of the money they’re loaning out to be “on hand”. This is where *your* money comes into play. You give them your paycheck, and see a nice dollar amount show up on your ATM screen or bank statement — but that money was just fed into the grist mill of short term, long term and mortgage loans. And if you have a home loan through BofA as well, they’re basically charging you to loan your own money back to you. (And they wonder why they’re some of the most hated institutions on the planet.)

That complete disconnection from reality is what, I believe, is fueling public anger — and their insistence in blaming “the gub’mint” for regulating them too much (I know, I know, it’s insane to even try to digest that, only a few years after deregulating their derivative trading, commodity trading, and general shaft-up-the-backside to the consumer, that they would consider blaming too much government intervention for them sucking, but I digress…) isn’t going to fly.

I hope the protests stay peacefully and spread. The protesters may not be unified (or completely informed), but they have the right idea — and their anger is finally directed at the right group of people.

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