When Bear Stearns Dove, and Lehman Spasmed, Who Then Was the Gentleman?
Writing about high finance is way beyond my pay grade, and my indifference to Wall Street drama is surpassed only by capitalism's indulgent contempt and incomprehension for what I do--
But now investment banks are failing, and the Merrill Lynch bull has been eaten by Bank of America, and they come crawling to the taxpayers for a bailout, so damnit, I'm going to say something.
Capitalism, or more specifically, the pursuit of profit, has inspired a great deal of harm [insert obligatory but-communism-was-much-much-worse boilerplate here]. One of the most pernicious is its insistence that all-- all!-- must get on the capitalist train and serve the Invisible Hand or be run over. Minimum wage lackeys, folks losing their homes, artists, teachers, soldiers reduced to food stamps, sweatshop workers, firemen, cops-- except when they're needed-- poor dopes, they should have wised up to the way the world works, accepted that money talks and bullshit walks. The working class that maintains the great cities like San Francisco or New York can't afford to live there.
Their great-grandfathers had the same pious contempt for the Indians, and African slaves before that: serves 'em right for being hunter-gatherers, and if the Africans didn't want to build our infrastructure, they shouldn't have let themselves be kidnapped in the first place.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. The Servants of the Invisible Hand have had a thirty-year spree, with Ronald Reagan and the rest (I include Clinton in this) looking the other way while they Built Wealth, with no serious regulation and devil take the hindmost. The problem is fundamental: this "wealth" is mostly a game of three-card monte, money moved from here to there; "real" wealth would include a sound infrastructure, roads and bridges, concrete and steel, manufacturing here instead of overseas, and schools that produce human capital for the future instead of fighting an intellectual holding battle.
Apparently they've gotten themselves in a whole mess of trouble, and even people whose job it is to know this stuff, like the Treasury Secretary or Christopher Dodd on the Banking Committee, are flummoxed. I was going to say "standing around with their dicks in their hand", but "flummoxed" was classier.
If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were an elderly couple about to lose their home, the response from capitalism's gatekeepers would be a loud "Fuck you. Your fault. Now hurry up and die." Instead we are expected to reach in our pockets and bail out the investment bankers. The bohemians, teachers, soldiers, firemen, cops and minimum wage lackeys will chip in and bail them out with whatever tax money is left over from Bush's wars. The thing the losers understand, that capitalism's servants don't seem to get, is that if you want to live in a civil society, then when someone's in trouble, even an arrogant rich asshole, it's in everyone's interest to grit our teeth and bail their sorry asses out. They can go back to spitting in our eye the next time the market goes up.