Bailing Out the Predators

Let me get this straight. The Congress is meeting with the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson this week. Mr. Paulson, who serves at the pleasure of the White House, says he has a plan to save the US economy. That plan involves bailing out the same companies that got the economy into the mess it is in today. The money for the bailout plan is going to come from the people who are already paying for two pointless, brutal and expensive occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan–the US taxpayers. More precisely, the US taxpayers who make between $25, 000 and $150,000 a year–the people the government likes to call the middle class. These people are already making less in real wages than they were ten years ago and many of them are facing foreclosures and other financial problems of their own.

If I recall correctly, the very same US Congress that is considering bailing out the big financial corporations that got the economy into its current mess because of their greed and the government’s willingness to forgo any regulation of their doings (and the doings of their sister companies in the energy sector) made it almost impossible for individual working people in the US to declare bankruptcy. Yet, they are enabling these giants of the Wall Street economy to get out of their financial catastrophes by making us foot the bill. Furthermore, they have the nerve to tell us it is for the good of the country. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can honestly recall the last time the White House, Congress or Wall Street did anything for the good of the country that I know.

Sure, they started a war against Afghanistan under the pretense that they were going to chase down and capture the guys who organized those planes flying into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That’s gone real well. I mean, look at Afghanistan now. The Pentagon is sending more troops and the White House and Congress are giving the okay. Dozens of civilians are dying in US air strikes as the occupiers fight a growing guerrilla army. They also started a war in Iraq that has done nothing but brought greater misery to that country and its people. It has also caused over 30,000 US casualties, with over 4000 of those casualties being dead men and women whose families are still not sure what they died for. Oh yeh, the price of fuel at the pump has increased by almost four dollars in some places across this land and the number of jobs has decreased steadily. That is, of course, unless you look at the military. Those job openings continue to grow.

But somebody must have benefited from this, right? And we all know who they are. The energy industry has raked in historically huge profits, all the while claiming that they deserve them while insisting that they get further tax breaks. Tax breaks which Congress willingly grants. The war industry has also made a bundle. Some companies, like General Dynamics, have doubled their net earnings just in the past four years. Others, like Haliburton, have used their insider connections to capture dozens, if not hundreds, of no-bid contracts that involve several documented cases of outright fraud and corruption. Yet, they continue to obtain the contracts and avoid prosecution. Then, there are those so-called security contractors, whose employees murder Iraqi citizens, media workers, and even Iraqi employees of the US-installed regime in Baghdad and face no penalties. Meanwhile, the contractor corporations themselves reap huge profits while also selling their services to agencies stateside that are involved with immigration and disaster management. So, uniformed thugs who answer to no one are now performing police duties here in the US. It’s like the Pinkertons of old in the employ of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and the government they ran back then.

Anyhow, back to that financial bailout and the arrogance assumed by those who are proposing it and those who will vote for it. Every time I hear about a CEO of some corporation that fails getting a multimillion dollar compensation package I can’t help but wonder: why is it that these guys get paid for doing their job so poorly that the company they manage fails? I know that in every job I have ever had that if I don’t do my job correctly than I get fired, plain and simple. If I’m lucky I might get a small unemployment check for a few months, but usually when a worker gets fired there is no compensation whatsoever. So, it pisses me off that these guys, from Lee Iacocca to the folks who ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the sewer not only get what the rich people call a parachute, but that they genuinely think they deserve one. I say push them out of th plane and let them try to fly. That’s what happens when people who work for a living lose their jobs.

The government isn’t any better, either. What could arguably be called the worst presidential administration in history will be leaving Washington next January. Yet, when those men and women hop on their chartered planes and head out of town, will they have to wonder where their next meal is coming from? Of course not. Almost every single one of them will fetch a nice retirement check for the rest of their lives. In addition, many of them will continue to receive the best health care in the world and hand us the bill. Others will go directly back into the business they were in before they joined the government. Naturally, those businesses will most certainly be better off than when these men and women left them to work in what I loosely term public service. After all, I’m not convinced that there is much servicing the public going on in DC any more. It’s more like servicing the wealthy and their bank accounts. As for Congress, these folks can spend two years in DC kissing corporate ass and hanging out in K Street offices and then go back to their other life with a lifetime pension and that same health care referred to previously. Bet the average reader can’t depend on a package like that.

It’s time Wall Street and Washington DC start practicing for itself what it preaches to the rest of us. No more bailouts and no more fat no-bid contracts. No more wars fought by other people’s kids for the war industry’s profits and the politicians’ egos. No more pay raises and no more free health care. No more taxpayer-funded travel and no more free gas. No more compensation packages unless they do a good job. Either that, or share the wealth and make health care universal, wars illegal, and fuel affordable.

It’s time we tell these folks: Bail your own selves out. Or, if you can’t, then start swimming. That’s what you expect us regular folks to do.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator's Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.

9 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Brittanicus said on September 24th, 2008 at 8:32am #

    Keep Pressure on Senate to Pass E-Verify Reauthorization; No House Vote Held on Foreign-Worker Bills

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 5:25 PM

    Please contact your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask him/her to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow a vote this week on H.R. 6633, the House-passed E-Verify reauthorization bill. The E-Verify program will die in November if Congress does not reauthorize it before Members leave for the election recess on Friday.

    There are two ways in which Majority Leader Reid could facilitate a vote on the E-Verify reauthorization bill:

    1. Ignore the hold Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has placed on H.R. 6633, and allow a cloture vote on the Senate floor. If he does this, there easily will enough votes necessary to stop Menendez’ filibuster and enable passage H.R. 6633; or

    2. Avoid a vote altogether by talking to Menendez privately, persuading him that what he is doing is threatening the reputation of the Democratic Party just before elections and get him to withdraw his “hold” on H.R. 6633. Reid could then bring H.R. 6633 to the floor for a unanimous consent vote.

    Either way, the American worker and public wins.

    It is particularly important to put pressure on Democratic Senators to put an end to Menendez’ grandstanding. If you call Republican Senators, please thank them for standing firm and ask them to not flinch.

    Good news from the House. The Judiciary Committee today did not take up H.R. 5882, which would add an additional 550,000 permanent green cards next year, and H.R. 5924, which would add 20,000 additional foreign nurses per year for three years (plus their families). It is not known if the Committee will still consider the bills before recess, or if the bill’s proponents will attempt to attach the measures to another bill destined for passage.

    IT’S YOUR FAMILIES FUTURE. DEPORTATION OR OVERPOPULATION. IF WE DON’T STOP IT NOW, THEY WILL KEEP COMING..

    JOIN 756.000 other American patriots at http://www.numbersusa.com , to stop the travesty of our immigration laws. Learn about Immigration governmental corruption at http://www.judicialwatch.org

  2. Donald Hawkins said on September 24th, 2008 at 9:09am #

    Predator ( ) n. An organism that lives by preying on other organisms. One that victimizes, plunders, or destroys, especially for one’s own gain. And let me add on a grand scale under the law sort of.

  3. johndoraemi said on September 24th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    BETTER THAN ANY BAILOUT

    Let’s Play the “Blame Game” Instead

    Crimes of the State

    Taxpayers, Americans, rational people, I have a modest proposal. Instead of spending $700 Billion to buy bad debt from the bank shark fraudsters, let us spend merely 1/2 of $1 Billion to build a new SuperDuper Prison(TM), and round up all the organized crime figures who are attempting to defraud the People of the United States of multiple generations’ worth of wealth.

    Start with Phil Gramm and Robert Rubin (a bipartisan effort!), who were most instrumental in this crime, by abusing their offices and the trust of the nation, and engaging in gross malfeasance.

    Malfeasance at this level should not be ignored. It only encourages more criminal activity.

    I know, I know, we’re not allowed to play the “blame game” because White House press secretaries have forbidden it. (Odd how they cash in on the blame in their memoirs after they leave the post… but, I digress.)

    From 9/11, to WMDs, to flushing untold billions of dollars down the toilet, no one should be blamed, we are told. Shit happens. Maybe they’re just “incompetent” stealing all that money — or would that make them “competent?” Tough call.

    But, just for a minute let us consider actually blaming someone in the government for doing a bad job? Certainly this must have happened before? There must be some precedent where a government official was held accountable for something?

    Perhaps that’s too absurd to consider here in Amerika 2.0.

    Maybe in fiction, someone will create a magical far away land where criminal high officials get caught and punished. Maybe even a musical with catchy tunes (Evita?). Yeah, let’s watch musicals instead, and let the hard working backroom boys get back to their statecraft and to restoring “dignity” to the nation.

    Or, let’s call a crime a crime, and start demanding justice in no uncertain terms.

    As Obama is tied to Rubin and McCain is tied to Gramm, I see an ongoing criminal conspiracy, something the RICO statutes were designed to prosecute.

    (‘RICO, RICO, off to jail we go…’ It’s got musical potential, too!)

    #

  4. brs said on September 24th, 2008 at 12:33pm #

    >>Naturally, those businesses will most certainly be better off than when these men and women left them to work in what I loosely term public service. After all, I’m not convinced that there is much servicing the public going on in DC any more. It’s more like servicing the wealthy and their bank accounts.<<
    I think the public is being serviced. The late Johny Carson once said about this kind of service that he grew up in a rural area and understood what the term service meant.

  5. Gliscameria said on September 24th, 2008 at 12:34pm #

    They say we need to bail them out or the market is going to crash. The only reason they give for anyone giving a shit if the market crashes is that people’s retirements are tied to it. Like anyone is going to retire in the next few decades anyway.

    The fact that massive amounts of our money is thrown into 401Ks and then given to wall street in bulk totally defeats the purpose of the stock market. The bulk of trading is trend based and has nothing to do with performance. Someone needs to hit the reset button.

    Gripe-You can buy your credit card debt for what they would sell it to a collector for, but you can’t do the same thing with a mortgage, it’s not allowed. Causes forclosures, depressed home values and poor people. The borrower should have exclusive first dibs on their own debt if it’s being sold!

  6. Poilu said on September 24th, 2008 at 4:55pm #

    Ron: Well said and exceptionally well-elaborated! It truly appears that the ONLY people afforded a significant “safety net” anymore in this country are those who LEAST need it.

    In a just society — certainly not THIS one! — it would be the FOUNDERS of this financial fiasco (and their government accomplices) we’d see living homeless on the streets and standing in “bread lines”, NOT veterans, among others, who merely did what they perceived as the “right thing” once upon a time.

    It galls me to NO end to ponder the fact that these unelected sleazebags in our White House will be permitted to feast at the public trough for the duration of their miserable, felonious lives. Same for the denizens of “our” Congress, with a few — sadly, DAMN few — notable exceptions.

    I keep wondering every now and then: the “Smith Act” prohibits any solicitation to violently overthrow our form of government; what would it say regarding violent efforts to RESTORE that form of government? (With our Constitution currently in shreds and our vote a meaningless joke, it would be difficult to perceive a popular uprising at this point as anything else. Fascism is clearly NOT what the Founding Fathers prescribed.)

    “[W]hat country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. … The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
    - Thomas Jefferson (Letter to William Stevens Smith, November 13, 1787)

  7. Ron Jacobs said on September 24th, 2008 at 5:29pm #

    I resent the message against immigrants being attached to my commentary. As the author of the piece on the Predators of Wall Street and Washington, let it be clear that I completely and totally reject this essentially racist post calling for deportation of immigrants. I hope the editors of Dissident Voice remove it post haste!
    ron jacobs

  8. Deadbeat said on September 24th, 2008 at 7:47pm #

    The American people alone provides an enormous risk pool therefore there is absolutely no need for private banking and insurance. What is needed is a restoration of postal accounts that were repealed during the Eisenhower years when the Republican were in control of the Congress during the 1950′s. But before that happens the Post Office needs to be restored as a real public agency.

    It is clear that the private sector cannot manage the collective accounts of the people and uses it for their own gain and produce nothing. Social Security show how efficient it can operate and that level of efficiency is need for banking.

    Rather than bailing out these crooks we need to use the 700 billion dollars (really 1 trillion dollars) to set up a system of PUBLIC financing and savings.

  9. Andres Kargar said on September 24th, 2008 at 11:01pm #

    This is exactly why the government and the owning classes are desperate to be eavesdropping and spying on American citizens to make sure they keep everyone in check. America’s corporate practices are making paupers out of the majority of the population, and our rulers are terrified to death of the possibility of what they call mob rule, i.e. the collapse of the capitalist system and the empowerment of common, poor people.

    Is the capitalist system digging its own grave, Mr. Paulson?