Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CNN Interview of Matt Taibbi

Here is an interview of Matt Taibbi and some simple-minded right wing guy who wants to claim that the reason people are in the street is "envy". They want what the other guy has and they want it now and for free. His argument is ridiculous. People with envy don't go demonstrate in the street. They pout. They throw hissy fits. They steal. But they don't form political demonstrations. That's too hard. You are liable to be beaten up by the police.

The real "class warfare" in the US is the ultra-rich buying the politicians and using the courts & police to force the bottom 99% to put up with a system that is rigged against them.

More details about the interview and the "fight" are available in Matt Taibbi's blog at The Rolling Stone:
Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.

"I find the one thing [the protesters] have in common revolves around the human emotions of envy and entitlement," he said. "What you have is more than what I have, and I'm not happy with my situation."

Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.

Think about it: there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now? The idea that masses of people suddenly discovered a deep-seated animus/envy toward the rich – after keeping it strategically hidden for decades – is crazy.

Where was all that class hatred in the Reagan years, when openly dumping on the poor became fashionable? Where was it in the last two decades, when unions disappeared and CEO pay relative to median incomes started to triple and quadruple?

The answer is, it was never there. If anything, just the opposite has been true. Americans for the most part love the rich, even the obnoxious rich. And in recent years, the harder things got, the more we obsessed over the wealth dream. As unemployment skyrocketed, people tuned in in droves to gawk at Evrémonde-heiresses like Paris Hilton, or watch bullies like Donald Trump fire people on TV.

Moreover, the worse the economy got, the more being a millionaire or a billionaire became a qualification for high office, as people flocked to voting booths to support politicians with names like Bloomberg and Rockefeller and Corzine, names that to voters symbolized success and expertise at a time when few people seemed to have answers. At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate.

And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.
From my perspective, guys like Will Cain are part of an under-the-table buying of "journalists" and "opinion makers" to muddy the waters and help get the Occupy Wall Street issues out of the news.

As Matt Taibbi points out, here's the reality behind the Occupy Wall Street protests that the media ignores and that never gets discussed. Instead the media babbles on about "envy". The reality is that there is a big problem with fairness and justice in the US:
One thing we can still be proud of is that America hasn't yet managed to achieve the highest incarceration rate in history -- that honor still goes to the Soviets in the Stalin/Gulag era. But we do still have about 2.3 million people in jail in America.

Virtually all 2.3 million of those prisoners come from "the 99%." Here is the number of bankers who have gone to jail for crimes related to the financial crisis: 0.

Millions of people have been foreclosed upon in the last three years. In most all of those foreclosures, a regional law enforcement office -- typically a sheriff's office -- was awarded fees by the court as part of the foreclosure settlement, settlements which of course were often rubber-stamped by a judge despite mountains of perjurious robosigned evidence.

That means that every single time a bank kicked someone out of his home, a local police department got a cut. Local sheriff's offices also get cuts of almost all credit card judgments, and other bank settlements. If you're wondering how it is that so many regional police departments have the money for fancy new vehicles and SWAT teams and other accoutrements, this is one of your answers.

What this amounts to is the banks having, as allies, a massive armed police force who are always on call, ready to help them evict homeowners and safeguard the repossession of property. But just see what happens when you try to call the police to prevent an improper foreclosure. Then, suddenly, the police will not get involved. It will be a "civil matter" and they won't intervene.

The point being: if you miss a few home payments, you have a very high likelihood of colliding with an armed police officer in the near future. But if you defraud a pair of European banks out of a billion dollars -- that's a billion, with a b -- you will never be arrested, never see a policeman, never see the inside of a jail cell.

Your settlement will be worked out not with armed police, but with regulators in suits who used to work for your company or one like it. And you'll have, defending you, a former head of that regulator's agency. In the end, a fine will be paid to the government, but it won't come out of your pocket personally; it will be paid by your company's shareholders. And there will be no admission of criminal wrongdoing.

The Abacus case, in which Goldman helped a hedge fund guy named John Paulson beat a pair of European banks for a billion dollars, tells you everything you need to know about the difference between our two criminal justice systems. The settlement was $550 million -- less than half of the damage.

Can anyone imagine a common thief being caught by police and sentenced to pay back half of what he took? And no individual in that case was charged, no individual had to reach into his pocket to help cover the fine. The settlement Goldman paid to to the government was about 1/24th of what Goldman received from the government just in the AIG bailout. And that was the toughest "punishment" the government dished out to a bank in the wake of 2008.

The point being: we have a massive police force in America that prosecutes crime and imprisons citizens with factory-level efficiency, eclipsing the incarceration rates of most of history's more notorious police states and communist countries.

But the bankers on Wall Street don't live in that police state. There are maybe 1000 SEC agents policing that sector of the economy, plus a handful of FBI agents. There are nearly that many police officers stationed around the polite crowd at Zucotti park.

These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don't want handouts. It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war -- they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It's amazing that some people think that that's asking a lot.

No comments: