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Monday, November 24, 2008

Heist

As our unprecedented financial swindle continues apace, a couple things. We're now approaching $3 trillion in bailout commitments, with no end in sight. The US population is just over 300 million. What makes more economic sense, and indeed justice, if your goal is to stimulate the economy -- to give every citizen $10k to inject back into the system, or to give a couple thousand people (who, you know, lost the damned money in the first place) tens of billions of dollars each to hold over the remnants of the working class?

Clearly this is not economic stimulus so much as political stimulus; Wall Street is getting exactly what it paid for, which is political representation at the expense of all others. Hell, Citi and AIG won't even alter their grotesque stadium sponsorship deals, they're certainly not going to save anyone's job.

The stadium naming sponsorship thing is especially galling. First the taxpayers get rolled into building a new stadium for the Mets, and the personal seat license commitments are out of the price range of most working-class folk. Now, to add insult to injury, the taxpayers are again being rolled so that these assholes can, among other things, pay for their goddamned stadium naming rights. Nothing like getting taken by the same grift twice. Henceforth, the Mets' new stadium is Douchebag Field.

I've idly commented a few times recently about stringing these bastards up from the nearest lamppost or street light, but I'm not so sure I'm even half-joking anymore. Again, if the money's there for the doling out, why not give it to people who are going to spend it, put it back into the economy right away, rather than a select few who will simply hold our own money over us for the next decade or two, until their next eventual regulatory end-run ends again in predictable disaster, and we are all forcibly dragooned into saving their worthless hides yet again. Why not just cut out the middleman? It's our money; why keep rewarding the bookies for making stupid bets with it?

Another, more ominous problem is that the bailouts are there to preserve the existing system, which because of increasing resource constraints is going to need to be seriously readjusted, if it doesn't collapse outright. Kunstler has been the proverbial voice in the wilderness on this subject for many moons, and he's starting to look fairly prescient in a lot of areas.

There is money to be made, jobs created, economies and communities to be rejuvenated, by serious, careful retooling of our infrastructure, manufacturing, and finance systems. Localized and regionalized economies have been ravaged by national and international economic policy. Globalized capital mobility has been nice, and a balanced form of it is still desirable. But it must be complemented by realistic, sustainable, and above all tangible means of support and process. Bundling doomed-to-fail mortgages and putting them on 33 Black is no way to run a modern economic system.

It's natural for political systems to attempt their own continued perpetuation by any and all means. The only thing missing from these bailout episodes is a ski mask, a gun, and an impossibly large sack festooned with a ginormous dollar sign. This ripoff is truly cartoonish in scope and scale; who else gets a blank check after losing tens of billions of dollars that they'll never recoup or payback, and laying off tens of thousands of people that they'll never rehire? Even a shabby skid-row hustler has more morals than these animals.

6 comments:

necron99 said...

Tellin' it like it is!!

...By the way, this whole plan that hundreds of billions of dollars of bailout money needs to go to big banks so that they can continue making money... instead of going directly to people who were ripped of... makes a mockery of the whole Right-wing meme for the last 30 years, that taxes need to be lower because "the people know how to spend money better than the government". Clearly, based on the lack of mortgage assistance in this bailout, all that 30 years of rhetoric was just code-speak for "shovel money haphazardly onto already-rich businesses".

But today it seems like either the people or the government could spend it better than private banks; by definition, neither of them could spend it with a worse result than 'wrecking the entire $67 Trillion world investment system by gambling on derivatives without having the money to cover their gambles'.

If these bankers had done the exact same thing in a _real_ gambling den, as they did with derivatives and Credit Default Swaps in an electronic system where they are legally allowed to mint money out of thin air, then literally millions of fund managers would be hobbling around on broken legs right now, courtesy of Mafia goons, instead of receiving a polite, courteous bailout. That same courtesy is not extended to you and me when _we_ bet money we don't have.

This ripoff is truly cartoonish in scope and scale

Hey, if it's cartoons you want, here are a couple good ones: http://www.itulip.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6570

Heywood J. said...

You're right about these creeps getting away with wagering gimmicks and tricks that would get the average schmoe's legs broken.

In this case these guys are the mafia, with the worst possible traits of protection and loan-sharking rackets. Everyone is forced to buy into their scam, and pay points on the privilege.

And they've got the politicians worrying more about preserving a critically flawed system of global capital mobility, over the purchasing power of individuals, in the form of jobs and commodity prices. (Gas may be down for now, but food hasn't budged.)

So great, now we give the chumps who lost our money even more money to lend back to us. If a balance isn't struck, if jobs and revitalized economic sectors such as infrastructural repairs and adjustments and sustainable energy aren't forthcoming to complement all the golden parachutes, it's just forestalling an inevitable collapse once resource constraints set in.

BTW, I couldn't get your link to work.

cavjam said...

The guillotine is far more efficient and sanitary than hanging so many bodies. Greenspan and Gramm should be first in line. Plenty of employment opportunities for operators, manufacturers, honers, morticians, etc.

I suspect some of your outrage is feigned because I know you know we live in an age of aristocracy.

“There is...an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents.... The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy.” Thom Jefferson

By the way - yeoman work on your earlier post, This Week In Stupid: awful in the older sense - leaving one full of awe.

necron99 said...

Hmmm, I put two good comics up in the iTulip forums, but iTulip has apparently been down for maintenance for a couple days.

Here are the original sources.

http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2959

http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2008/11/22/

Heywood J. said...

cavjam:

I suspect some of your outrage is feigned because I know you know we live in an age of aristocracy.

Well, I've always agreed with the line in Trading Places that the best way to really hurt rich people is to turn them into poor people. That would be my preference by far.

I would looove to condemn these fuckers to long, dismal lives of rat-race futility, of everything from endless commutes to negotiating with insurance companies over co-pays to begging for a cost-of-living adjustment just to keep up with food prices. Forcing them to live on the crumbs of the working class is the most appropriate punishment for them.

Failing that, the continuation of these policies, which are essentially outright theft and fraud as far as I'm concerned, are practically asking for and justifying an eventual violent response or protest. At some point, instead of the usual suburban family murder/suicide as an impulsive reaction to impending destitution, someone is going to take that frustration out on, say, one of the AIG humps who thought it'd be cute to go on a six-figure junket right before bellying up to the beggars' line at the Fed. Or maybe a bunch of newly-homeless, formerly-employed family folks may abandon their cardboard shanties in the Bushtowns around the nation and take to the streets en masse.

And frankly, maybe they should. Our hallowed legal system is never going to do anything about it. And the supposed risk/reward traits of the market system, which we keep hearing punsihes incompetence and rewards merit, will never kick in so long as they rent enough pols to keep them in bidness.

So really, what is the rational response to being compelled to reward someone who just robbed you blind and laughed in your face about it? The guillotine would indeed be faster and cleaner, and Gramm's bulbous melon would look good on a 40-foot pike out in front of the Fed building.

Heywood J. said...

necron99:

Those links work, thanks. Great stuff. Sums it up perfectly.