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It’s truly amazing how things never, ever, change.
I just read the Robert A. Heinlein biography by William H. Patterson Jr. (TOR, August 2010, trade paperback June 2011, www.tor-forge.com). Segments of this very comprehensive Heinlein biography deal with Heinlein’s early career quest for political reform and activism. He recounts the same problems we are encountering now: the renegade depression and recession that occurred at turn of the century and again during the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
It reminds me of Neo and the Matrix, from “The Matrix” film series in the early 2000s. Do you recall how Neo was merely one of a bunch of “fixes” to the system dating back to the beginning of Matrix time? And the same types of political parties (the Tea Party is nothing new) rise up, decades apart, perhaps centuries apart, to “correct” our now debilitating social and economic inequities. More Neos are a-comin’!
How long will this cycle continue? Will we be doing the same things in 2050? 2100? 2200?
What worries me is the “students” of the mess we are in. You know -- those who are studying finance in school, getting their MBAs, and who have witnessed, firsthand, the first-class financial murder in this country.
No crime. No punishment. Reckless endangerment of our fragile economy as a result of mortgage-backed securities and the credit bubble. Welcome To Grift University!
What they are learning is if you are clever enough, and disguise your operations well enough under the “for good of the American public” (as in “every American should own their own home” policy of the Clinton Administration in the ‘90s, etc.) you may literally get away with financial murder.
What happened will be an inspiration to those not inclined to “do the right thing.”
Cane murdered Abel. It was the first murder, and there had to be a precedent for punishment.
But for the financial crimes of our times, no precedent was established.
We need to establish the precedent and punish the people who exhibited reckless misbehavior. The ones who knowingly signed people without jobs (or with minimal ones) to houses they could never afford. Otherwise, like the Great Book, Cane could go after his parents and the rest of the community as easily.
In my review of RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT this issue by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (Times/Henry Holt & Co., 2011, us.macmillan.com), I mention how RECKLESS compares to a book reviewed last issue, GRIFTOPIA, by Matt Taibbi (Spiegel and Grau, 2010, www.spiegelandgrau.com). While GRIFTOPIA painted a very emotional picture of greed and irresponsibility, RECKLESS accounts factually the financial crimes that were committed. GRIFTOPIA blames the bank, Goldman Sachs. RECKLESS just blames everybody in the financial industry – and names names.
Robert B. Reich, an author himself, reviewed RECKLESS in the May 29, 2011 edition of the New York Times Book Review. Reich quotes the authors:
“‘The failure to hold central figures accountable for their actions sets a dangerous precedent,’” the authors say. ‘A system where perpetrators of such a crime are allowed to slip quietly from the scene is just plain wrong.’” But the authors believe no real crime was committed – other than the good old Wall Street unparalleled greed.
Reich centers on the real problem: the authors hint at Washington “and the financial sector.” He writes that they have “become so tightly intertwined that public accountability has all but vanished. . . . The extraordinary wealth of America’s financial class also elicits boundless cooperation from politicians who depend on it for campaign contributions and from a fawning business press. . . . In this symbiotic world, conflicts of interest are easily hidden, appearances of conflicts taken for granted, and abuses of public trust for personal gain readily dismissed.”
Financial murder was committed. Nobody was punished. In fact, all of the perpetrators of these crimes are still wealthy and working as if no murders actually occurred.
All this crime, and no time?
Study on, kids. I can see a future time where you’ll be lickin’ your chops, waiting to cash in as your predecessors did with this carte blanche opportunity. Because I’m sure you’ll come up with a way to profit easily, taking your lessons from Glenn Frey and “Smuggler’s Blues”: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.”
“The money power has grown so great that the issue of all issues is whether the corporations shall rule this country or the country shall again rule the corporations. [Corporate influence] reaches the Supreme Court, and the White House itself!”
-- Joseph Pulitzer, 1879