Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Banksters: Clueless and In Denial

This has been a very interesting week for news.

Flipping back and forth from CNN to C-SPAN, I
am watching America deal with the fallout from
two of the greatest disasters of our time.

Of course, I am referring to the Haitian earthquake
and the Great Recession. Two 7.0 magnitude disasters -
one natural, the other man-made.

With the earthquake, I and many other people are
gratified to see the United States re-assume its traditional
role as "World's First Responder" when a natural disaster
strikes. Slow though it may seem, aid is getting through,
more is on the way, and it appears that it will be there for
the long haul.

In my mind, the contrast between our response to this
disaster and the second-most destructive disaster in
Western Hemisphere history - Hurricane Katrina in 2005 -
couldn't be starker. Obviously, there have been lessons
learned since then.

Which brings me to the hearings on the Great Man-Made
7.0 Disaster of our time - the Great Meltdown of 2008 and the
ensuing recession/depression.

It appears no lessons have been learned.

To be sure, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chairman
Phil Angelides is not playing a good hand. His commission
has limited subpoena authority, a limited budget and staff,
and the scope and nature of his questioning has been similarly
limited, by quiet private agreement beforehand.

In other words, the fix is already in. And the Banksters know this.

How else to explain the answers of the "witnesses" - I mean "The
Guilty Parties" in front of the commission?

On bonuses, Chief Squid Lloyd Blankfein said: "We earned 'em.
We made money. And, we have to hold on to our talent, otherwise
they'll go elsewhere."

Uh, excuse me, Lloyd. Talent? What sort of "talent" deliberately
drives an entire world economy over the cliff in pursuit of
private profit? That's not talent - that's not even smart crime.

And Jamie Dimon and John Mack (JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley
respectively) on the housing debacle:

"We didn't see it coming. No one did. There was no reason to not
believe it couldn't go on forever."

And on risk management? "Our risks were insured and covered.
We saw no problems with what we did."

Incredibly, Brian Moynihan and Jamie Dimon also said that,
yes, while the crisis did negatively affect Main Street, "these
sorts of things happen every five to seven years or so. It's
NO BIG DEAL." (Jamie Dimons' actual words).

Really? No Big Deal? You're not just clueless - I'll bet you
also think Denial is just a river in Egypt.

But, I know where you're coming from. Hey, "s**t happens.
We just have to work through it."

Right - uh-huh, sure. Those of us without jobs, homes or
savings can take real comfort in that.

But you can take some comfort too, that despite the
gravest provocations, we still believe in The Presumption
Of Innocence until Proven Guilty.

In that regard, let me spell out for you just what would have
happened to you if you had pulled your caper somewhere else.

If you had pulled this off in the UK for example, you'd be on
your first anniversary of "Investigative Detention", with your
banks in receivership or administration while armies of
investigators pored over the records.

Pretty much the same would have happened elsewhere in
Europe, where the rule is "Presumed Guilty until Proven
Innocent." In the EU, investigating magistrates can hold
you indefinitely on mere suspicion of crimes of this magnitude.

And Her Majesty's Newgate Prison is no cushy "Club Fed".

And Russia? You tank the world economy from over there,
and after a delightful stay in Lefortovo or Lubyanka,
you'll find that the Gulag under Vladimir Putin is very
much alive and well. And in China? After a public show
trial, a very public execution by gunfire.

So guys, you've got it good over here - for now.

But I wouldn't be so sure about that if the people have their

The next time you appear before an investigating committee,
you won't be wearing matching blue suits, white shirts, and
muted blue ties (a nice collective sartorial touch, BTW).

Rather, you'll all be wearing Orange Jumpsuits with "Federal
Detention Center" stamped all over them, with perfectly
accessorized waistchains and handcuffs.

Given the scope of what we are talking about,
I think that's just so much nicer and appropriate for the

And I think most Americans would agree with me on that.

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