This section explores the tentacles of the crony-capitalist cartel that’s strangling America’s economy and its citizens’ hopes for democratic reforms.
Imagine you moved in next door to a mischievous child. Over the years, you watched the parents scold ever so lightly as the deviant behavior grew from stealing loose change to petty larceny to bank robbery. You knew for sure the child would eventually get caught and end up in prison; but you didn’t count on one thing: the parents used their political clout with each ratcheting up of the crimes to avoid prosecution, effectively turning the overseers of the public interest into criminal enablers. As the enablers “fixed” the outcome of each crime, they also sealed the records from public view and historical perspective.
That scenario typifies how criminal behavior has exploded on Wall Street and why President Bush, Congress and the regulators are stumbling around in the dark looking for cures for a financial crisis that they can neither understand nor contain: they’re enablers in denial.
Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now it’s marshalling its money machine to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. Why isn’t the press curious about this?
If you want to flush out market manipulation, don’t turn to the sleuths in Congress. They’ve been probing trading of the oil markets for two years and completely missed a company at the center of the action. During that period, a barrel of crude oil has risen from $50 to $140, leaving a wide swatch of Americans facing a choice this coming winter of buying food or paying their heating bill.
The vetting of Sarah Palin for the McCain campaign by an Iran-Contra alumnus brought an epiphany. (See “The Man Who Vetted Palin,” CounterPunch, September 8, 2008.) The inability of the American populace to control this crime spree we call the Bush administration is not because we’re lazy, narcissistic or willfully blind to human rights violations, as much of the world now views us. It’s because we’ve been misidentifying this crime spree as “the Bush administration.” What we’re clearly confronting is the Iran-Contra Alumni Association masquerading as the Executive Branch, replete with domestic spying, dark ops, fake journalists, fake news reels, press intimidation, protester arrests, infiltration and torture.
At a time when the corporate leaders of America have demonstrated an incurable proclivity to blaze a trail of scorched earth and looting across the banking, trading, housing, and mortgage industries, the public is now catching the whiff of a new smoldering stench just over the horizon.
If corporate America has its way, everything from our parking meters, zoos, airports, toll roads and drinking water will be privatized in the biggest fire sale in the history of the industrialized world. In other words, let’s send a powerful message to our children that the reward for corporate greed, incompetence and criminal behavior is to hand over what’s left of the country’s assets to the crime syndicate.
America is held out to the world as a meritocracy. You work hard, you play by the rules, you make sound judgment calls, you succeed. That’s the American dream. Right? That’s what the President of the United States should exemplify in his actions. Right?
Then how does one explain the individuals who represent the abject failures of financial and regulatory theory chosen by the President to dominate the dialogue on financial reform. How does one reconcile President Obama appointing Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council after Mr. Summers played a central role in rolling back the safeguards that led to the current financial crisis.
It was only a matter of time before the hideously disfigured face of U.S. financial services would gaze into the mirror and see the reflection of legal counsel from a parallel universe. The thoroughly discredited one-stop-shopping-mega-bank-securities-casino has spawned a new era law firm: one that lends its legal imprimatur to complex financial derivatives that blaze a scorched earth from Jefferson County, Alabama to the Arctic Circle, then offers up white color criminal defense to investment bankers snared in the fraud aftermath.