Sunday, October 2, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

"In the wake of a continued corporate sycophancy from the country's hard right, it is encouraging to see a movement brave enough to address the problem of American inequality and pragmatic enough to include all those who suffer as a result." - Clint Reilly

A healthy Big Business, corporate America, and Wall Street is to all of our advantage. Jobs are the great equalizer in modern human culture, and these creators of jobs also create the freedom of mind and spirit that a good job provides.

So it is vitally important that we treat Big Business fairly, that we do nothing that impedes their ability to create good jobs. But it is still important that they have accountability, that they are held to high standards. Big Business and it's advocates zealously protect corporate America, unafraid to use the money, power, and connections to ensure that they get what they want. Anyone who criticizes corporations and big business is dealt with swiftly and mercilessly. To criticize big business is to unleash the meme machine, and to be labeled a socialist, or worse.

We have passed a crossroads in America. The conservative Supreme Court, whose members run in circles that rabidly support corporate positions, have gifted legal personhood on corporations, giving them the rights and privileges the founders intended for individuals. Thus the balance of power, given the resources available to corporations, has shifted dramatically from people to business institutions.

Most Americans historically have had much of their wealth tied up in home equity. They buy a house, they make payments, the house increases in value, and that value is their nest egg for retirement. In an era in which Social Security is under attack, along with public and private pensions, working people need that home equity more than ever.  

The boys and girls on Wall Street took note of the vast sums of money resting comfortably in home equity and it vexed them. Why, they wondered, are we not getting a cut of that? So they put some braniacs from the Ivy League on the case and they miraculously figured out a set of equations that they used to create some paper, and made their bosses giddy when they began getting a cut of people's home equity all across the nation. It worked so well, and money to borrow was so cheap, that every financial and mortgage firm in America realized they wanted a cut of that easy money. Like every bubble in history, when the folks on main street figured it out, the jig was up and they were just suckers at the bottom of the pyramid. The boys and girls on Wall Streeet, used to running these sort of grifts, had made some preliminary moves with their regulatory pals in DC, hedged their bets by moving the risk to some other suckers (does AIG ring a bell?), and, since the scam had become too big even for them to reel in, used their ace in the hole by having the government whose regulations they demonize cover them for 100 cents on the dollar.

Lloyd Blankenfein and his brethren will go to sleep tonight on lavender scented sheets in one of their many ocean front or Central Park West mansions, fortunes intact. When I go to sleep tonight, it will be in the house that has lost 25% of it's equity in the past three years, my retirement next egg, mirroring the experience of tens of millions of Americans, whose net worth has plummeted dramatically since Wall Street's housing bubble burst. 

Thoughout American history the surest investment was in real estate. If you bought a house, lived responsibly, made your payments on time, over the years you would build wealth. It was the responsible, smart thing to do. In the wake of Wall Street's grift, estimates are that as many of 40% of American home owners owe more for their house than it is worth. The most remarkable thing to me is how few American's have connected the dots between Wall Street's greed and irresponsibility, the lack of regulatory process, and a lack of accountability to the perpetrators. I feel as though tens of thousands of dollars were stolen from me, hundreds of millions of more stolen from other had working Americans, and not a single one of the crooked millionaires that committed these crimes has been brought to justice. 

If I break the law, my corporeal form risks being placed in prison. This is what happens to individuals under the U.S. Constitution. Corporate entities like, say, Goldman Sachs, which has the same Constitutional rights as individuals  according to Mssrs. Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, not having a corporeal form, are exempt from going to jail. This is a rather significant oversight, which could be mitigated by sending some Wall Street executives, who serve as the consciences of their corporate employ, into the grinder of the justice system. 

Fortunately, a few people have connected the dots between the ever diminishing lot of average Americans and the risk free zone of Wall Street and are doing something about it.

Read more:    Occupy Wall Street