Friday, July 20, 2012

The Titans and Mitt Romney

There really ought to have been more incredulity that, four years after an economic meltdown caused primarily by the financial titans of the great Wall Street casino, we would be presented with a nominee for president that hailed from the very same industry, and made his money in some of the very same ways. That on the heels of yet another loosening of the rules attempting to keep money from thoroughly overwhelming the political process, the richest man in the race would win his primary easily, hands down, while benefiting from expensive ad campaigns targeted at picking off each of his opponents in turn. That those ad campaigns would be, in turn, financed by some of the very hedge fund managers and other financial gurus whose industry wrecked things so efficiently that they are still wrecked, even now. And that the primary policy battles of this election would be, indeed, whether or not our tax structures were sufficiently kowtowing to those financial titans.

It has only been four years or so. That really isn't much time. Unemployment is still rampant—yes, rampant, four years ago the current level of unemployment was considered the worse case scenario, four years later it is considered the new normal, hardly even mentioned. The bank scandals have continued unabated, this time with the new suggestion that the titans of finance had been rigging the whole game from the outset. Two competing populist movements have sprung up: the tea partiers to object to taxing the rich, and the Occupy movement to demand accountability from them.

All of that has happened, and here we are. One of the two candidates for the presidency of the United States is a fabulously wealthy Wall Street financier, from a company whose success was based in large part on financial scheming at the expense of endangered companies, and on offshoring jobs, wildly supported by other Wall Street financiers, and is demanding, one, less regulation of financial institutions, and two, tax cuts for the rich that make the previous tax cuts for the rich look like chicken feed.

If Hunter S. Thompson was alive today, I do believe he would be going off the deep end right about now.

The current political riff over whether or not Barack Obama does or does not loathe businessmen and wish to do them harm is yet another in a long line of examples in which the narrative is, in variation after variation, centered on the titans of finance and what we can do for them. If the economy is suffering, it is because we have not appeased the titans properly. If there are no jobs to be had, it is because the titans are still too unsure of our intentions towards them. If there are still crooks on Wall Street, it is because entirely too many things have been declared to be illegal. Whether or not people have money to buy the things the titans are selling never comes up; it is implicit, in every debate, that the titans will decide whether we will buy things or not. When the economy crashed and things needed propping up, it was Wall Street that got propped up first. When the economy recovered, it was Wall Street that gained the largest share of the profits. According to current narrative, the entire world economy can be neatly encapsulated by the considering the desires and requirements of the top one percent of the top one percent; everyone else on the planet is a footnote.

The central banks all express alarm at unemployment; the central banks all do not a damn thing to combat it. The governments all express alarm at the behavior of the titans; the governments all do hardly a thing to forcibly reform them. And, in politics, we are trapped. The titans finance the elections, the titans underwrite the people who write the rules, the government looks to the ranks of the titans when seeking officials to lead the economic decision-making process. All of this four years after their recession. Their crash. Their failures. All of it just the same as during the four years before the collapse, or worse.

So now the current challenger for the presidency is a Wall Street financier, one who made his money by closing factories and shipping the jobs to cheaper places, or by taking control of companies, loading them with debt in order to pay his own company handsomely from that debt, and departing again—the kind of money-making that the titans think of as the most clever of all, because it extracts money from nothingness, but the kind that nearly everyone else points to as economic parasitism of the highest order. Gordon Gekko has come back to town, and by God and the titans, he's been heralded as a diplomat, and a patriot, and a generally fine fellow.

Holy hell.

Hunter for Daily Kos on Wed Jul 18, 2012