Economic Terrorists

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I just wrote this letter to the editor of my local newspaper. I haven't sent it yet. Tell me what you folks think...

The economic terrorists on Wall Street need FDR style regulation. They drove a derivatives truck bomb into our retirement and savings funds, blew up thousands of jobs and damaged housing with their sub-prime lending time-bomb.

These terrorist crimes were not possible from the time FDR implemented safeguards, as a result of similar Wall St terrorism that helped cause the Great Depression, up to the time these safeguards were repealed in 1999 through the urging of "free market" advocates like Republican Phil Gramm.

Shared experience of terrible events has a unique way of bringing people together in a unified fashion to prevent a similar shared event.

Case in point - Sept. 11, 2001. Through the medium of TV we all experienced the horror of that day, as a result nearly everyone understands the importance of airport/airline security.

Would anyone in their right mind advocate for the elimination of x-ray machines, luggage scanners, security checks, etc., etc., at airports as a result of our shared experience of Sept. 11, 2001?

Similarly, the Wall Street terrorist attack on the American economy, our jobs, our retirements, our future is more than enough reason to reject these "free market" - "get the government out of the way" advocates and re-instate FDR era safeguards that helped to create and protect the American middle class.

matmar83's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Sounds good to me. Simply reinstate the FDR laws that were repealed...and add derivative market regulation to them. It should be a no-brainer.

Of course, we have this to contend with:

QUOTE: "The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

By Simon Johnson - former Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Write those letters to the editor. It helps others believe they are not alone and counters the constant Rightwing memes that get printed praising the tea party rage. Up against the Wall St., banksters. Assume the position.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I don't see a point in blaming business for acting without restraint. It's the nature of business to grow in the absense of regulation and use their influence to tilt the field in their favor. I think it's the responsibility of Gov't to protect its citizens and oversee the market place to keep all the business activity within the lines. I think this is our #1 problem today. This probably requires an amendment to the Constitution. Too bad Jefferson didn't succeed at the start.

maraden's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Used to be that many business owners had social consciences. They felt that they were important contributing members of the community. Many still do, while many don't.

Regulations are needed for these sociopathic businesses like Walmart or Blackwater or some on Wall Street. They exist and are successful because of the kind of government and society we have. It's their responsibility to return the favor, voluntarily or forcefully.

The one-note push for regulation is misguided. It would be better to go back to the limited corporate charters, forcing corporations to justify their existence every ten or twenty years or so. The charters should be short enough that the gangsters who commit corporate crimes will still be around to prosecute them.

zenie's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote maraden:

I don't see a point in blaming business for acting without restraint. It's the nature of business to grow in the absense of regulation and use their influence to tilt the field in their favor. I think it's the responsibility of Gov't to protect its citizens and oversee the market place to keep all the business activity within the lines. I think this is our #1 problem today. This probably requires an amendment to the Constitution. Too bad Jefferson didn't succeed at the start.

"Blaming" is not what's important, or even useful. Even sorting things out by identifying business as simply a cancerous organism that simply follows it's sociopathic design is not especially helpful, because human beings make this happen, even in corporations.

Recognizing that business operates as it does because it has become so entwined with our government that it has managed to remove the restraints that others saw as necessary after the last phase where business ran the ship of state onto the rocks is what I see at stake here. What's extremely difficult is becoming conscious of how that's happened and then keeping it in mind as one acts (and speech, as in letters to the editor, I'd consider an act).

In your formula, the government becomes this abstract "thing" that's somehow acting as an intelligent entity. That's not really "government." Government is a process guided by a set of rules, put in play by human beings according to the restrictions of those rules, and, importantly, human interpretation of those rules. What takes place is a process, a dynamic and ongoing flow of events. This is not that easy for humans to imagine. Language itself has an objectifying function in our efforts to figure things out that can confuse our understanding by making what's really alive and dynamic seem static.

Smart people figure out how to control that process. They see what are key pieces on a chess board that they can influence, and they use the influence of power to get that process to do what works best for them.

Smart people plan things out. They create "think tanks" and hire other smart people. They find smart people to do strategic plans -- if they can afford them. And private, for-profit corporations can pool their money, create think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institue, and so forth and so on, to do this kind of research and planning. That's really power, the potential to do that with something abstract: money.

If you want to see some evidence of how such plans are conceived, what they involve, I'd strongly recommend reading the Powell Memo written by someone who was just about to be put on the Supreme Court. In it you will see the blueprint for how a governing process can come to do the bidding of corporations with the support of many levels of society -- not as if the government were some sort of authoritarian force dictating to people, protecting them, or whatever formula people have in mind when they say: "Da Government," but as a process with parts fully acknowledged and seriously addressed.

So yes, write letters. But you can't stop there. Marginalized people have been telling us about this terrorism for a long time. People like Naomi Kline and her Shock Doctrine. Noam Chomsky and Terrorizing the Neighborhood. All of that involves other smart people recognizing how the governing process works and who influences it. We have to become aware of how we are marginalized when we write our letters, as well, or it will all just go into a giant circular file somewhere in the universe.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Community conversation may not be at the level of the paradigm shift imagination, but it does connect experience and belief and helps us see that we are not alone. Of course we need to do more than any one thing. We also need not to be dismayed about the loss of our childish illusions. In the spirit of saving despair for better times, we need to get out of this place.

My grandfather excused the Timber Barons for playing by the rules of their day, but he did not explain away the damage they did. He knew them very well because they were in the family.

There was also once a substantial "corporate responsibility" community in the world of Commerce where "stakeholder corporations" were created and real ties with the community were established to avoid the take the money and run syndrome. Cummings Diesel paid for great architects and the difference in price for public buildings in Columbus, In. They did not excuse "playing by the rules" for corporate irresponsibility.

If the meme is taken seriously, it is all the more reason for much tougher rules. It is an argument against allowing that form of economic "freedom."

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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