The Widdershins

Archive for October 5th, 2011

Watch Out, Wall Street!

If there’s one thing reading the book “Confidence Men” has emphasized for me, it’s how completely our government has been bought by Wall Street. The corruption has been going on for quite some time, but Obama really, truly had a chance to do something about the big banks being “too big to fail.” All he had to do was to accept the advice of the people who told him to break up the banks into “good” (capitalized correctly) and “bad” (under-capitalized massively due to derivatives fraud) institutions; sell off the toxic assets at discounted rates and let the profits go back to the government; protect the bondholders; re-regulate the industry by bringing back Glass-Steagall, and allow the “good” banks to start over under the new regulations, under national control at first, eventually going back to private institutions. Amongst those who used Paul Krugman’s shorthand to describe these options, this particular model was known as “Sweden.”

[ahem]

Okay, I realize that would have been a lot to do, but if anyone had the political capital to do it, it was Barack Obama. And the people telling him to do it were among the most respected names in the world of economics: Along with Paul Krugman, there was Paul Volcker, Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich, to name a few. There were also the ladies who have constantly called for re-regulation and predicted the current crisis when everyone was claiming the boom would go on for ten more years; Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren. Along with Senator Maria Cantwell and Christina Romer, they tried to rein in the crazy confidence men of Wall Street, but were easily discounted because, as Larry Summers so famously said, “Wimminz can’t do teh maths.” (I admit that was a bit of a paraphrase.) We know what happened – Obama went with the “B Team” and decided to continue to bail out the banks, apparently, forever.

We The People, the bottom 99%, are being drowned in the river of dollars flowing through Wall Street and Washington, wondering how we can end corporate personhood and get money out of politics. I feel like these days, however, we have some options for making our voices heard.

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