What will the insiders do, when the system finally looks like it is about to blow?
Reading this on NPR’s website: Watchdog: Bailouts Created More Risk In System reminds me of some thoughts I had many moons ago.
The insiders will find every way they can to not only game the system, but to loot the system for every dime they can.
And what is “the system’ that they will loot?
They will go for the biggest wad of dough they can find and set to it.
In this case – OUR CASE – the biggest wad of dough is the U.S. Government, which they may have set up long ago, just for this kind of gang rape.
Thoughts of Rome and Its Fall
I used to think about what it was like to have lived through the fall of Rome. I wondered what went through people’s heads. Were they aware of what was happening?
If so, how early did it dawn on them that things were falling apart?
What actions did individuals take, to try to survive the crashing and burning of the Roman Empire? How was it different in Rome itself, vs out in the provinces? What actions were available? Did people pack it in and leave, or did they hunker down after stashing away a lot of figs and dates and dried meat, ala our own survivalists? If they left, where did they head to? How did they portable-ize their valuables, so as to be standing on their feet when the dust cleared and they “weren’t in Kansas anymore?
How panicked did the Senators get? The merchants? The millers? The shipping owners? The man on the street?
I’ve long thought about that.
Our Latter Day Rome and Its Fall
Right now I am wondering if it was a form of precognition on my part. Or was it a subtle sense, an unconscious ability to perceive what was coming? Or what was happening all around me?
I certainly hope not. I would not wish that on my kids.
This article, though, brings back to me my cynical suspicion that TARP was not intended to fix anything – unless one takes “fix” in its other meaning, such as to “fix a bout” or “fix a game.”
There really is no common sense reason that the TARP money – or a very big chunk of it, anyway – was not first given to the victims of the sub-prime pyramid scam. Almost every penny of that money would have been used to pay down the loans (providing that the necessary change in the early payment prohibitions had been eliminated), thus putting the money right in the same pockets Bush and Obama handed it to. 1.4 trillion dollars was given directly to the banks. The people who really needed the money were the sub-prime loan buyers. had they gotten the money, they would have eagerly turned it over within days to the bankers who scammed them, or who were creditors of record (although, as the one lawsuit showed, perhaps there was no such record – that will remain to be seen).
So, two birds/problems could have been killed/fixed with one stone/dollar. There is no sane reason (by normal standards) why this was not a first option for the Congress and the Bush and Obama administrations. For BushCo, shitting on the hoi polloi was a no-brainer, so we can forget that as a possibility. Joe Main Steet simply didn’t count with them. Obama, though, for his administration to not at least put it on the table is very instructive: The little guy was not anything to be concerned with. Joe Main Street was f**ked, and by intent.
Why would I say that, when the money would pass through anyway?
The Looting of the Treasury
I just need to quote myself from above: “…loot the system for every dime they can.”
In order to process all those sub-prime loans, several hundreds of millions of dollars would have been spent on employees who filled out forms, programmers who set up web forms, etc. Those hundreds of millions of dollars set against hundreds of billions doesn’t sound like much, but those are a lot of dimes, nevertheless.
All of this brings me to my conclusion: TARP was designed as the looting of Rome/Washington, before the Asiatic barbarians take over. Those people stole every penny they could, seeing the demise of the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg – the American consumer/middle class economic engine that drove the biggest increase in prosperity the world had ever seen.
The sub-prime loans were, in themselves, evidence of the end of the pyramid scam known as “The Great American Dream,” which was for everyone to own his/her own home. The entire construct was not to put us into our homes, but to milk us for every penny.
How Far We’ve Fallen, 1970 vs 2005 (and that was before the economy fell off a cliff)
Elizabeth Warren, in the spring of 2008, laid out in her speech, The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class, that in 1970 the average American home (with one income, no less) saved 11% of its income, and paid 1/4% for credit cards. That was only two years after the year, 1968, which was the high point of the average median income for Americans, adjusted for inflation. So essentially her numbers reflect what kind of world existed at our peak.
1970 also represents (within a year) the beginning of a period when Republicans occupied the White House for 28 out of 40 years, and Bill Clinton can only be described as Republican-lite, so besides Jimmy Carter (a very good man but a basic failure at being President) it was essentially a Conservative, free-market mentality, which was anti-middle-class, and nearly 100% carnivorous capitalism.
In 2005, the year Elizabeth Warren compared to 1970, the average American household saved ZERO percent of its income, and paid 15% of it to credit card companies. Essentially, the numbers were reversed. In other words, Americans took their savings and handed it all over to the credit card companies.
The Insiders and the Investment Bankers = the Looters
And who are the credit card companies? The investment banks. Chase, CitiCorp, Bank of America, for the most part. the TARP recipients. They are not the only ones, but they represent “what has happened in America.”
And the same bankers essentially are the same ones that sold the sub-primes. The investment banks invented the mortgaged-backed securities by which our mortgages were split up and sold to foreign bankers and investors, one of the biggest scams of all time -exceeded only by the scam of the “American dream” and sub-prime loans (since only a part of the mortgage-backed securities were sold to foreigners).
At the hub of it all, the investment bankers were the insiders. They were the ones who could see the writing on the wall. They were the ones who would have the first shot at making a grab for it, when it was obvious the house of cards was falling down.
With an insider – any insider in any risky activity – the first and foremost thing to do is to assess what will happen when the shit hits the fan – “How do we win? How do we not get taken down when the avalanche comes?” If the shit never hits the fan, the normal house advantage gives them a win, but that is not enough. They also need to win when everyone else is losing.
By being insiders, they are able to control the entire scenario.
In the fall of 2008, that meant making sure the money got to them, with no risks that the people would just take it and run, and to take as much as humanly possible.
Milking it and Using the Looting for Leverage
And they did it twice.
They knew how much they could get. But with a change coming in the White House, they had to have leverage over the incoming President. So they manipulated things so that BushCo only got them half of it, $700 billion. They knew that was not enough, and that Obama would have to come up with another $700 billion, in order to “keep the economy from an utter collapse.” They wanted their guys – the Republicans – to be able to make a big deal out of the incoming President’s giveaway. They didn’t care so much if the earlier one was mentioned, but they wanted to make sure there was some leverage. Some leverage is better than none. If ALL of the TARP money was under the Repbulican Party, what good was that? All the blame would have gone to their friends and enablers.
There Is No Treasury to Loot
It wasn’t that they were too big to fail. That was only the cover story. The real story was that they were looting the treasury. Not that there really is a treasury anymore. On August 15, 1971, Richard Nixon, the first of all those Republicans and quasi-Republicans took us off the gold standard, and the U.S economy has been bled dry ever since. 1971 was one year away from that 1970 year that Elizabeth Warren talked about.
Killing the New Deal, and Everything It Stood For (especially the Middle Class)
But it wasn’t just talk. That older American really did exist. The America in which Joe Main Street was prosperous. But Richard Nixon and his handlers didn’t like that Joe Main Street was prosperous, that his kids could go to college free (or, like me, for $240.50 a year), that the profits of industry were being shared with the workers, and that those workers were increasingly belonging to unions.
It was a long time project, to kill American prosperity, a long time dream to take us back several decades to when businessmen pocketed great amounts of money and didn’t have to share it, either through taxes or union wages. They hated FDR for Social Security, for the New Deal, but most of all for collective bargaining. Since the 1930s, they had been determined to turn back the clock, to a time when to be a businessman was to stuff everything into their own pocket – everything but what they wanted to hand over.
For them it is all about winning at all costs and winning everything. The middle class? To them the middle class are a bunch of chattel. We The People means nothing to them. To them America is their own crowd. Everyone else is just field slaves or house slaves, one or the other. When George W Bush or his daddy or Reagan or Nixon talked about “we” and “us,” they weren’t including any stinking middle class. If we read that into their speeches, well that is because they were putting it in to deceive us. By “we” and “us” they meant the oligarchs. They considered the country to be a plantation, and their intent was to return it to being one, as soon as they possibly could.
And part of that was taking down America.
Oh, they had no intention of going down with it. Before it went down, they intended to loot it, loot the treasury.
They did. But don’t be surprised now, if they loot it some more.
We are at the end of the Great American Experiment. They know it, and they are doing everything they can to make sure that in the plantation economy to follow that they have the antebellum estates and we are all singing “Old Man River.”
I have gotten my answer, what it felt like to be there at the end of empire.
It feels like being used. And like my children and grand children will never know what it was like to believe they live in the greatest country in the world. I knew what it felt like. But evidently it was all a lie. My entire working career (which began in late 1970) has been during the Demise of the American Empire.
How much more of an answer can one get?