They Love Me, They Really Love Me!

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Wall Street, NYC by say.fromage.

By David Glenn Cox
http://theservantsofpilate.com

In her groundbreaking book, “On Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


examined the five stages in which people deal with grief and tragedy.


On Bloomberg.com today, Caroline Baum in her article, “Congress


Misreads Public Anger at Wall Street:” takes the Ross theory and puts


it into practice.

“Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- There’s only one thing
more revolting than watching Wall Street abuse taxpayer dollars:
watching Congress bloviate about it.

"Our elected
representatives are gleeful at the opportunity to fan public outrage at
bankers for their excesses -- in part because it deflects attention
from their own. Whether it’s Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of
Missouri, calling bankers a 'bunch of idiots,' or Rhode Island
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse proposing an 'oversight court' to
restrain Wall Street’s 'massive self-indulgences,' Congress is perched
on its high horse.”

Baum is upset because Congress is on its
high horse about the failures of an industry that has single-handedly
trashed the American economy. The amounts of money and struggle
necessary to get us out of it are unfathomable, but as of this moment
are estimated at several trillion dollars. Americans are losing their
jobs in increments of a half a million a month and 8 million more
Americans will find themselves homeless before Santa comes a'calling
again. Her opinion is that Congress is misreading the public mood, but
my opinion, Ms. Baum, is that you are in stage one: denial.

“Yet
it would be a mistake for Congress to interpret that anger as a
condemnation of capitalism and an endorsement of bigger government. If
my e-mail is a reflection of popular sentiment, Americans are angry at
Wall Street for gambling with other people’s money (and losing). They
are angry at having to pay for the extravagances of others while they
lived within their means. And they are angry at a system that
privatizes profits and socializes risks.”

Wrong, Caroline, the
American public is very angry at capitalism. The young see their
chances to go to college dimmed; the middle aged see their jobs
disappearing with no opportunity to recover from the loss. The seniors
are suffering with crippled retirement earnings. From a life of
peaceful, golden years to stress and fear for tomorrow, all courtesy of
capitalism.

“They like President Barack Obama and want him to
succeed. They want increased regulation of the financial sector,
especially since they’re on the hook for past mistakes.”

You’re
damn right there, but it’s not Obama they like near as much as the Bush
administration, which they hated. They would accept anyone, including
Homer Simpson, if he promised to rescue us from this quagmire of
capitalist crime and corruption.

“That said, the public doesn’t
want government calling the shots. They understand -- at least they
should -- that prices are a better way of allocating the economy’s
scarce resources than government diktat. (If government was good at it,
the Soviet Union would be flourishing.)"

The public doesn’t want
the government calling the shots? You mean after the bang-up job Wall
Street has done? What are you smoking, Caroline? And prices? You mean
the $5.00 dollar a gallon fuel and 26% interest rates on credit cards,
the adjustable rate mortgages that helped us into this mess? Or the
rising food prices in the face of a collapsing economy? Have you been
to the grocery store lately? Food price are up on grain items as much
as 30%. Then, Caroline, you fall back on the worst reason to continue
doing anything, “We’re no worse than those guys!” The Soviet Union’s
economy failed once while this capitalist utopia fails again and again
and again.

“Government is nothing more than a collection of
individuals acting in their own -- yes, their own -- self-interest, in
much the same way that Wall Street does. The only difference, according
to advocates of public choice theory, is that governments make public,
not private, choices: They choose for us, in other words."

“And
we aren’t free to reject those choices. Whereas transactions in the
private sector are voluntary, the government coerces us (threat of
imprisonment) to pay for goods and services via taxes.”

Caroline,
you’re going to get saddle burns from riding that Trojan horse. You
compare Washington to Wall Street while forgetting that if we don’t
like Washington we can throw them out, but if we don’t like Wall
Street, that’s too bad. We forfeit our jobs, our futures, and then pay
their bills to boot, while you preach about free choice. Don’t be
absurd.

Been to the doctor lately? “Sorry, your doctor is not
in today. Would you like to come back in two weeks?” or, “If this is a
Workman’s Comp injury you’ll have to go to the clinic across town. I’m
sorry, we don’t accept that brand of insurance.”

But there is a simpler answer, Caroline, for what you are trying to convince us of. You are in stage two: anger.

“It
is not my intention to exonerate Wall Street for its role in sinking
the financial system. Nor do I wish to excuse the behavior of banks on
the dole."

“Wall Street has always had a deaf ear when it
comes to what passes for acceptable behavior. In bad times, the
deafness is even more glaring. Client retreats at high-end resorts,
million-dollar office renovations, corporate jets shuttling board
members across the country: Even before these activities were a matter
of public interest (and taxpayer dollars), they were a manifestation of
bad taste."

“Still there’s something disconcerting, even
comical, about politicians trying to cap compensation while 'making a
bunch of people feel better by beating up on rich people,' says Jim
Bianco, president of Bianco Research in Chicago. 'There’s a mechanism
for correcting the excesses. It’s called the stock price and the board
of directors.'"

Now you’re just getting sad, Caroline. Millions
of people losing jobs and homes, children dying because their parents
can’t keep the heat on, families abandoning their pets because they
can’t afford to feed them anymore, and you want sympathy because a
bunch of people are beating up on the rich. Gee, I’m so sorry, it sucks
to be you! Welcome to stage three: bargaining.

“If you want to
punish Wall Street, Bianco says, that’s how to do it. Under normal
circumstances, when stock prices get too low relative to companies’
expected earnings, investors step in to buy."

“Not now, Bianco
says. 'Private money will come back when it knows it can have a say in
running a company,' not when there’s a good chance the government will
swoop in and take it over.”

Caroline, don’t Bogart that joint,
my friend, pass it over to me! Stock prices get too low? Goodyear Tire
and Rubber cut their pension benefits to their retirees and their stock
prices soared while their earnings declined. All hail capitalism, this
is great! Maybe a free market euthanasia program might help to rebuild
the economy!

“Here’s where government’s best intentions to make things better have made them worse."

“'A
necessary condition to attract private capital back is a consistent and
predictable strategy by the government,' writes Luigi Zingales,
professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago
Booth School of Business, in a commentary for the Center for Economic
Policy Research. 'Without it any other effort is in vain.'”

Private
money will come back when they are sure that this train wreck is over.
You and your free market mouseketeers put your toolbox on the throttle
of the locomotive; then you want to blame the track or the weather or
anything but what this is. This is a rock star overdose of excess, you
have and continue to defend the Bastille with shot and shell as you
choke on the vomit of your own excess. You don’t want the doctor called
because it will end the party and good times for the roadies and the
groupies and the hangers on. You haven’t reached step four yet because
you’re not through with a certain part of step three: blaming others.

“'The
weakness of the capitalist system is not that it doesn’t work
economically but that it’s hard to sustain politically,' Zingales says.

“With ordinary Americans losing their jobs and elite bankers
begging for help, political intervention is a given, he says. In spite
of good intentions, it may end up impeding the functioning of the
market."

“OK, so capitalists screwed up, to borrow a phrase
from the new president. So did home buyers who thought there was a free
lunch. And mortgage lenders who were slinging the hash.”

“That’s not a reason to implicate the entire system, unless you think the government can do it better.”

“'The
capitalist system stumbled and fell,' Bianco says. 'It’s just like
teenagers, who do stupid things. Sometimes the solution isn’t putting
restrictions on them but letting them pull themselves up.'”

“How’s
this for a twist? For the market to begin to function normally,
investors need a guarantee that the government won’t do anything, not a
promise that it will.”

OK, so capitalists screwed up? That’s
all you got? Screwed up again, you mean, and it is a reason to
implicate the entire system. The system was in control, the system
offered the free lunch, the system made the bad loans, the system
advertised and enticed consumers to come in and make them. It was the
system's intention to profit from them and then to bundle those loans
with good loans to defraud investors and mis-lead insurance companies
with the sole intention of profiting from it. But to your way of
thinking everyone is to blame except the system.

Just like
teenagers. But you, Caroline, resent it when the grown ups, you know,
the elected representatives of the people, try to discipline those
teenagers. The reason the capitalist system is hard to sustain
politically is because it has no soul. It doesn’t care for the people
in its charge.

It lives in an academic aura of personal
detachment; we the people are expected to accept lost livelihoods and
destroyed futures with an, “Oops, we screwed up.” But with this
detachment from reality, capitalism becomes the engine of personal
aggrandizement with no concern for the wellbeing of the people
whatsoever. It is merely medieval feudalism disguised as a global
economy. The peasants feed from the crumbs off the king's table while
the king offers us protection and assurances that he is far better to
us than the Vikings would be.

But, Ms. Baum, you are locked in
stage three, bargaining, while we the public have moved on to stage
four, depression, and even stage five, acceptance. You are like Norma
Desmond in Sunset Boulevard; you’re living in the past, and dreaming it
to be the future. The body of the economy is floating face down in your
swimming pool of excess. Yet you slowly walk down the stairs to the
reporter’s flashbulbs oblivious that you are guilty of killing it
saying, "They love me, they really love me!”

No, they hate you,
they really hate you, and if President Obama had said yesterday at his
Elkhart Indiana town meeting, anyone who kills Caroline Baum will get a
good job with full benefits, you’d have been a grease spot before
sundown. Congress may misread the anger but you, ma’am, are clueless.