Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Capitalists To Taxpayers: Fuck You Very Much!

As no doubt even homeless, piss-drunk vagabonds encamped around the burn barrel understand, Bush's Troubled Asset Relief Program—which extorted $700 Billion of US taxpayer money, equivalent to the Netherlands' entire economy, and redistributed it to financial institutions – is an unwarranted reward for staggering greed and outright thievery bestowed upon those least worthy. The Associated Press (AP) attempted to follow up on that "gift" by asking banks in receipt of a minimum of $1 Billion in bailout funds four simple questions: "How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings? What's the plan for the rest?"

Of the banks questioned, here were some of their responses: "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to," said Thomas Kelly from JPMorgan Chase. "We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking," said Barry Koling of SunTrust Banks, Inc. "We are going to decline to comment on your story," emailed Carissa Ramirez of Morgan Stanley. "We're not sharing any other details. We're just not at this time," said Wendy Walker of Comerica Inc. "We're choosing not to disclose that," stated Kevin Heine, spokesperson for Bank of New York Mellon before adding, "I just would prefer if you wouldn't say that we're not going to discuss those details."

Let's see, $25 Billion to JPMorgan Chase, $3.5 Billion to Sun Trust Banks, Inc., $2.25 Billion to Comerica Inc., the others mentioned at least a Billion per which accounts for nearly $33 Billion for just these few banks. And what thanks do we, the American taxpayers, receive from the beneficiaries of our expropriated $700 Billion gift in this festive season of joy, good tidings and giving? That's right, a single-fingered salute a-la-la-la.

How can that be? You might ask with as much righteous indignation as you can muster. And, the answer? "Congress attached nearly no strings to the $700 Billion bailout in October. And the Treasury Department, which doles out the money, never asked banks how it would be spent." Elizabeth Warren, "the congressional watchdog appointed by Democrats, said…'If the appropriate restrictions were put on the money to begin with, if the appropriate transparency was in place, then we wouldn't be in a position where you're trying to call every recipient and get the basic information that should already be in public documents'."

Congressman Scott Garrett, R-NJ, a House Financial Services Committee member remarked that questions like, "Where is the money going to go? How is it going to be spent? When are we going to get a record on it?" were "legitimate questions that should have been asked on Day One." NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!

So, ask yourself this, how can it be possible that 535 legislators—you know, our Senators and Congressional Reps, those that literally WRITE the laws of the land, many if not most of whom are attorneys – didn't think to include terms for basic accounting disclosure on monetary outlay of such monumental proportions as the TARP give-away? An oversight of stunning blindness. Or, was it willing blindness? The same sort of denial our representatives have shown since Reagan every time closer scrutiny and more regulatory intervention is warranted due to a financial crisis predicated on sheer hoggishness? Because, once again, we get the same outcome: Oops, we did it again! Silly us. Now, gimme yo' money!

The only difference for this TARP deal is that the criminals responsible for the crisis to begin with are telling the government to go fuck itself even as they grab the bag o' bailout loot. Wow. Some chutzpah, huh?

Now, for perfect contextual irony, remember that the proponents of deregulated, laissez faire markets, the very environment that has caused repeated financial crises including this one, the mother of all financial storms, these same cheerleaders for unrestrained Capitalism are called Chicago School economists, or von Mises Institute devotees, whose god is Milton Friedman, the very man who came up with the Federal Withholding Tax. You know what that is. That's the government's ability to know what you make and deduct from your paycheck taxes due; this, before you even have access to your own paycheck. Which means the government knows exactly how much you've earned and how much they need from you. Now, Friedmanites in unanimous voice tell the American people to shut the fuck up about knowing their business of where the finances are going even as those finances are some of what was taken out of your paycheck.

How could this be? Well, the only need for government as far as the Friedmanites are concerned, is to safeguard private property (34.3 percent accumulated at the top one percent of American families; 71 percent in the hands of just the top 10 percent). That includes military/police so that the hordes can be beaten back when the tide of extinction threatens to drown them and they violently object. Also, by use of the withholding tax, government can assure it gets enough tax money to build the infrastructure required for commerce and to educate the workforce so our companies can remain competitive in the global economy. Let's see, anything left out? No, that's pretty much the only use for government as far as the Friedmanites are concerned; making sure there's muscle to protect what they've amassed, provide for the necessary infrastructure components, fund the research and development required and educate a knowledgeable class of drones so that even more wealth can accrue to the few who already have and, finally, with full force of the law government redistributing worker wealth earned to the top via financial bailout trillions.

Now the Dems, who by the way do have a majority in both houses, want the rest of the bailout ransom before Obama gets in office. Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, the same guy that chastised the banks just weeks ago for using bailout money to acquire more assets for bank shareholders when that money was to be used for credit purposes, now wants to make sure money is channeled towards "stemming foreclosures and reducing mortgage rates." He claims that the new bill being fashioned would "impose tighter restrictions on the second $350 Billion of the bailout funds, such as requiring banks to report on their new lending every quarter and toughening limits on executive compensation." Again, for review, the government looks into your shit every week via paycheck withholding while it'll be looking at the criminals' business activity every three months with still as yet no mention of including language in the bill to assure absolute transactional transparency. Oh, as to the prior mention of shareholders' benefit? No, that does not include the American people even though government bought into these same banks via bailout money. You must learn that only the costs are to be shared among the people while profits accrue to only the top few.

So, midst this heady intoxicating era of change, we have a Democratic controlled government afraid to demand of finance/big business what is demanded of every working American, a full-accounting of their income and their fair share of the national burden. Barney Frank huffs and puffs about putting $24 Billion in bailout money towards modifying mortgage rates so 1.5 million foreclosures won't happen. Double that number to $48 Billion and the entire cluster of pending American foreclosures (approximately 2.25 million) would be averted. Remember now, the reason given again and again for the staggering financial mess we're in is defaulting mortgages. Correct? So, ask yourself this: If putting up $48 billion dollars would stop the trigger being pulled (via Credit Default Swaps), why are Americans being asked to pony up $8 Trillion? Again, to juxtapose two bits of reality, the Treasury Department just earmarked an additional $250 Billion to buy stock in Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., and JPMorgan Chase & Co., with an additional $40 Billion in capital to AIG Inc., yet our representatives are still at the pleading stage, begging on behalf of American families while the elites get carte blanche. Too afraid to regulate over the course of three and a half decades, our representatives kowtowed to Friedmanites' extortive schemes. That shit has surely hit the fan yet we still have a government too afraid to demand of Free Market Capitalism what is required: A full, transparent accounting. Clear regulations on what the bailout money can be used for. Payback provisions to make the American people once again whole. And, strict regulatory oversight forever more with heavy criminal penalties to be exacted should such greedy practices ever again rear their ugly heads. In other words, demanding via legislation that Capitalism works for the people and not against them.

Will this happen? Well, maybe if you're the type to believe in Santa Claus or Saint Obama.

Yes, folks, 'tis the season for financial folly, fa-la-la-la-la and fuck you very much!