Monday, February 21, 2011
The U.S. Economy, one big Ponzi scheme, or how we are getting screwed, blued, and tattooed!
While Bernie Madoff languishes in jail, bankers continue to profit as the poor lose their homes and hope.
Wall Street traders represent the elite of the global financial world, but after the collapse of the economy those behind the world's depression still seem to be doing just fine!
Thank you, Bernie Madoff, for breaking your silence--even if you are still clinging to that cover-up mode you adopted since you took the entire blame for your crimes.
What is clear is that ripping off the rich is punished far more severely than ripping off the poor. The lengthy sentence you were given spared countless other rip-off artists from facing the music--and what horrible music it is, just like a heavy-metal band playing completely random twelve-tone music!
In an interview--with a reporter from the “New York Times” who is writing a book to cash in on the work of a man who has already cashed out--we learn, in the vaguest terms, that Madoff believes the banks he did his crooked business with "should have known" his figures did not figure. Keeping with the deceit that has served him well over the years, he has named no names.
That said, how right he may be. There were many who should have known and done something about it. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators for one, as well as possibly the “New York Times.”
Remember, it was Madoff's confession to his sons that started him on his way to his new 12' x 12' home away from home--in a federal prison, where he may dream of his seized penthouse, homes and yachts, instead of his exposure in the press, for years to come!
For years, he went undetected by business journalists, who knew (or should have known!) what he was up to. There are even questions about how fast he was sentenced, preventing him from being tried--a process which, through diligent cross-examination, would have brought us more information on the details of his dirty deals, and no doubt implicated other captains of finance who have since been enjoying federal bail-out money to give themselves enormous bonuses!
Madoff, of course is also still not coming clean about the web of alliances he had internationally, as well as in New York. At the same time, the people investigating Madoff are making a small fortune. According to the “Financial Times," The army of lawyers and consultants helping to recover funds from Bernard Madoff's $19.6 billion fraud stand to earn more than $1.3 billion in fees, according to new figures that detail the cost of liquidating Madoff’s huge Ponzi scheme."
The comments of readers to the “New York Times” appear to be more insightful than the paper’s own reports. Here is one from Texas: “I actually, sort of, feel sorry for this man. He was just doing what many investment firms were doing at the same time. He has been imprisoned as a scapegoat. Yet many people since then--and to this day--are doing the same thing. Where are the indictments against the thousands of other people who swindled all these people--and knowingly led this country into financial disaster?"
The best reporting on this subject is not in the mainstream press but in a music magazine, “Rolling Stone,” where Matt Taibbi investigates why everyone on Wall Street is not yet in jail: “Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy, but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them," he charges. (Naturally, these crooks are smart enough to put aside a small amount of the money they rip off to bribe the legislative and executive branches of our government to give them what they want.)
Madoff also believes the banks who serviced him did not want to know about his Ponzi scheme which, unfortunately, is probably true--and an attitude coming not just from the banks.
The Times report added: “He spoke with great intensity and fluency about his dealings with various banks and hedge funds, pointing to their ‘willful blindness’ and their failure to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information available to them.
“‘They had to know,’ Mr Madoff said. ‘But the attitude was sort of: ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know. We just want to make money off of what you are doing for as long as we can!’”
Andrew Leonard asks in Salon: “Should we trust him? After all, if there is one thing we know about Bernie Madoff, it is that he is one hell of a liar. But as evidence emerges that bank executives were exchanging e-mails wondering about Madoff’s amazing investment record, the possibility that the banks were purposefully looking the other way is not inconceivable.”
The truth is that many of us still do not really want to know--because, if we did, we would have to do something about it.
By their actions, both Democrats and Republicans, both of whom have been bought and paid for by these crooks, prefer to keep us in the dark!
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), like the 9/11 and Warren Commissions before it, avoided key issues. The FCIC inquiry did not call for a criminal indictment of wrongdoers. While informative, its report was ultimately a dud, telling us mostly what we already knew, although there were some disclosures that our corporate-owned press, for obvious reasons, did not care to print.
Now the Republicans want to water down the regulations on derivatives in the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” legislation, claiming they will lead to a loss of jobs. This is predictable: Every effort to defend big business is always deceptively couched in terms of helping the public.
The “New York Times” reported: "Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, warned: ‘You think regulation is costly? How about the $7trillion we just lost from not regulating the derivatives markets?’”
There was no response from his colleagues.
So who will do anything about it?
The political right prefers to change the subject, while the left does not seem to have the time or energy to make economic justice its principal concern--even as polls show the economy is the number one problem for most in the United States.
Progressives should hang their heads in shame at the minimal amount of activism taking place against the banks and the escalating numbers of foreclosures. Homes and hope are being stolen from people for whom the term “depression” now has a personal, concrete meaning, as formerly middle-class families can no longer pay for their mortgages and are thrown into the streets.
The other day, economist Jeff Sachs, who has a lot of atoning to do for his own misguided, destructive economic advice to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, warned that little is being done about economic inequity and the growing ranks of the poor in the US. He asks if people who are running things in the United States want “another Egypt.” He is a policy wonk, not an activist--and likely fears the idea.
Many activists say they want to emulate the Egyptians, but who will organize anything and raise hell as they are getting royally fucked? In Egypt, young people used the internet to organize and mobilize for change. In the US, the Internet seems to let us blow off steam, consuming hours of our time and giving us another way to talk to each other while we ventilate against the government. Social media here seems to be more for socializing.
The government supports internet freedom abroad but restricts it and spies on it at home. Obama has already supported a law allowing him to shut it down here in case of a national emergency.
The passivity of the public is one result of the inundation by middle-of-the-road corporate media who ever since the first studies of effective public-relations techniques which started in the 1920s, have learned how to keep us in the dark and go along with their programs.
As Noam Chomsky puts it: “The population in the United States is angry, frustrated and full of fear and irrational hatreds. And people not far from us on Wall Street are just doing fine. They’re the ones who created the current crisis. And they’re the ones who have been called upon to deal with it. They’re coming out of all this stronger and richer than ever. But everything is fine--as long as the population remains passive.”
That is our problem, Bernie. Even if the people want to know, it is not that easy to find out. Let us thank our corporate-owned media and our government, which they bought out a long time ago, for that.
Posted by hkyson at 11:16 AM