But have no fear, tovarich! Grab a cold slice of pizza, sit back, let comrade Jeff Koopersmith explain the New Socialist Economy, and rejoice!
September 14, 2008 – Geneva (apj.us) – I am trying to imagine my friend Mitchell walking into to the Secretary of the Treasury’s plush offices In Washington and asking for just a simple $1 billion loan to save his floundering pizza delivery business which employs more than one million pizza delivery guys and gals worldwide.
Mitchell is honest: “Look, we have delivered some bad pizzas, and we’ve invested in schemes that were not only stupid, but perhaps bordering on the illegal. We even delivered cold pizzas in Russia – but that was done from pressure by the ‘Agency’. Moreover, we charged what might be considered criminal rates for our services. But you know, the elite pizza delivery business is largely unregulated and we were not sure what we could or could not do.”
The Secretary remarks, “Well, it’s a bit ridiculous for me to entertain loaning you a billion dollars for a business that night declare bankruptcy tomorrow.”
Mitchell replies, “Might? Oh no, we surely will go belly up and all our ‘now potential’ employees – potential since they are already out of work today – will surely lose their jobs. Imagine the impact on the nation, on the world – no pizza deliveries at all, the children of pizza delivery guys poorly dressed for school and very hungry, maybe eating flies. I built this business from nothing. I brought all the pizza delivery guys in the world under our single multinational umbrella, and I made sure they got not only great salaries, but tips as well. Our pizza delivery business is second to none on the earth!”
The Secretary sputters, “Well, let me make a few phone calls to the leading bankers of the world and see if I can set up a loan program that will tide you over, but don’t think I’ll do this for just any company. Remember Lehman Brothers? Well, just keep that in mind.”
Later that Sunday, Mitchell phones the Secretary asking about his money.
The Secretary takes the call but says, “Look, Mitchell – I tried but no one wants to risk capital on a pizza delivery business. If you were Chrysler, or AIG, or Ford or General Motors, maybe.
Mitchell is undaunted. He drives over to CNBC headquarters and gains an interview. He tells Maria Bartiromo, anchorette of The Closing Bell, that if the Treasury refuses to help his pizza delivery business more than three million people will be impacted in Rome alone, not to mention a few million more in New York who will not be able to get a pizza delivered. “Add to that,” says Mitchell, “another million pizza guys on the dole and we are setting ourselves up for the collapse of the American capitalistic system – and perhaps Democracy itself!”
After the interview, Mitchell gets a call on his cell phone. “Mitchell, this is the Secretary – alright, the United States government itself will guarantee your loan – at 11.5%, and you’ll have your money tonight. That was a sly move Mitchell – talking to Maria on television. We got sixty million emails right after your comments. You see democracy does work.”
Mitchell turns to his wife and says – “See honey – I don’t need no lobbyist!”
Have you discerned that no matter how poorly an American company is run or how much the public is fleeced by a utility, a cell phone provider, a private hospital, a real estate agent, or any other large corporate entity – not much gets said, yet if they’re in trouble – all the stops are pulled and the money machine organ grinder goes into high fantasy gear.
Only in the most egregious cases, might some politician or prosecutor do his job and “save the nation”. They would rather take the money and run.
Moreover, it’s not the police or the FBI that aren’t on the ball. They find all variety of shenanigans in state capitols, city halls, the corridors of the House and Senate and at the White House. – So much in fact that they are overwhelmed by it often, and many quit the police forces from the pressure or join the party instead.
In fact, the focus is normally taken off the perpetrators of financial and economic crime and placed instead on employees – even customers and victims. Either we have our minds turned to the “poor things” who have lost their jobs and now will have trouble finding another – or in very few cases – the employee is also a high official even a CEO who is caught so red-handed that there is nothing to be done about muffling his greed. He blames his customers for trying to cheat him and usually gets away with it.
You have only to sit in small claims court in any city in America and watch for two types of cases; the credit and rent cases. Lawyers for the banks, automobile loan lenders, building owners come to court with hundreds, sometimes thousands of complaints against the poorest of the poor because they’ve missed their payments or are behind in their rent enough to allow them to be evicted. These lawyers just sit a table and read one after another name of the debtor. One after the other the Judge finds them “guilty”.
Yes, there is a judge – usually a lackluster attorney who can’t find a job – and who “presides” over these cases. Most often the suckers being sued have no idea they are about to be chased around by the cops for the money. Most of them in fact have had to move, or have been moved forcibly because they’ve run out of money.
Therefore, the banks, the landlords, and the creditors tell the court these people have been “served by publication” – which means their names were printed in tiny type in newspapers they nor anyone ever reads.
Thus, under the law that is, the creditor has done what he is supposed to – and the debtor – who hardly ever shows up in court, is “guilty as charged” – now owing not only the original amount but another few hundred or few thousand for the creditor’s lawyer, interest usually as usurious rates, and when these debtors finally find a job they find that their wages are garnished and their take home pay is little or nothing depending upon the rules of the jurisdiction.
No one from the United States Treasury is in the small claims court to give the debtor a loan to help him or her through a tough spot.
This kind of thing does not only happen to the poor. It also comes about for the middle class. The very banks who profited from lending money to homeowners in criminal ways are now taking those homes away because the world has collapsed on these lenders – they’ve been caught with their filthy hands in the cookie jar.
These lenders claim that they were bamboozled and that these homeowners never had the money to pay the loans as agreed.
These lenders are lying. Their paid stooges – the credit reporting agencies – told them that they were dealing with flakes. The lenders didn’t care – because bankers are normally fairly stupid people. They decided that property values only go up and never go down. So what if they loaned a shoe shine guy $350,000 for a Miami Beach condo. When they repossessed it, it would be worth $550,000.
That’s what really happened. Along the way, some wise guys from Princeton figured out ways to unload their risk on to other even dumber bankers. They invented unregulated gambling devices with fancy names like CDO, CDA and the like. They sold those bad loans to people all over the world. They got caught. And to avoid having a scimitar cut his throat – the local Wall Street criminal tycoon took back some of the bad debt rather than being murdered in his Central Park penthouse along with his wife and kids.
Don’t let them fool you. Everyone knew what was going to happen – and long ago. The idea was – get as much money as possible and then run for it.
A little modern history:
Only once in the past hundred years have avaricial business leaders been put up against the wall and figuratively shot. This was during “The Great Depression” which began far before 1929 and continued almost until the end of World War II. Remember at that time the great worry was poor White people. Black Americans were already more than poor and institutionalized racism kept them that way. Only entertainers, very good restaurateurs, and criminals made it in the African American world then– and usually for a short time.
If one examines the literature of the time, one finds that the even the great writers of the depression era focused on the poverty of White people – “people just like you and me.”
On occasion, a book or a magazine article – usually in a Black-published monthly – would address the harsh conditions suffered by Black Americans in these down years. Yet in fact, the “Negro” did not notice much change. He had already been largely starving– but Blacks kept their eyes on the prize – waiting for Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and others to deliver them from evil.
I mention Black Americans up front only to draw a comparison between them and the powerful White Americans who were permitted, not only to escape from the poverty they fundamentally caused, but to keep the riches they earned on the backs of the dumber-than-dumb ‘investors’ of the time. They only grew wealthier while the rest starved.
The fear in Washington and in publisher’s offices that are supposed to cover such injustice is that focusing on the greed-filled underbelly of capitalism will bring down the United States where Democracy and Greed had become one and the same.
An example might be Prescott Bush, our President’s grandfather, and his father’s father as well as Averill Harriman who were not alone in laundering money for or aiding Hitler and his friends even as World War II was screaming ahead and continuing after the United States entered that war.
In fact, many of the “leading families” in America were and have been all along playing footsies with our enemies. During WWII there were the Farishes who still manage the Bush family trust, the Fords, the DuPont’s, the Rockefellers, and many more who saw the world as their kingdom and wherever money was to be made or influence peddled was considered their backyard.
This is simply “the way things work”.
You may have heard that phrase before inasmuch as it has become a non-explanation of everything that seems unfair, misguided, or evil.
This is not to say that had Washington pressed forward with its charges against Bush, Harriman, and a brigade of others that the nation would not have been threatened. It might well have, by the new and titillating-to-many form of government touted as Communism. If one believed the Communist purists, it was easier after the depression to see great wealth as immoral and a fair to middling lifestyle as the better choice for all.
Russia and China were never Communist states. They were petty dictatorships with lots of money – enough to amass great armies and elite weapons. Now they are just like us – only learning from our mistakes.
Of course, the wealthy have something to teach us and that is that no matter what the window dressing, the same thing will occur all over again – the smarter, greedier, lustier and more criminal-minded will always dominate the rest of us or attempt to.
They did so in “Old Russia”, in the “New Russia” which was then called the Soviet Union, and in “Brand New Russia” which is now so full with corruption and evil that it compares with America herself toward the end of the 19th Century.
I always remind my peers that they should not be so tough on Russia today. After all Mr. Putin and his allies are only in the same dealing position that America was in 120 some odd years ago.
Today, many of the most excellent crooks and leaders have disappeared. Henry Ford is gone – a man who broke the backs of many and cheered Hitler on while he burned the Jews. Prescott Bush is gone, a man who helped directly and indirectly to provide Jewish and Catholic slave labor to the Silesian Coal fields then controlled by Hitler and then overnight became the “Greatest friend of the Jew ever.” How convenient. BCCI is gone – a bank that provided non-recourse loans to half the pols in Washington.
Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler still exist – but barely – and mark my words their executives will pony up Secretary Paulson’s bar any minute now.
Next will arrive the airlines, followed by the home-builders, other huge financial institutions, and even the film and entertainment industry.
Realtors, who suckered in even the poorest families to buy homes they couldn’t afford, and fixed prices to levels that could never be supported, will be next. The National Association of Realtors has a huge gorgeous office building in Washington dedicated solely to paying off the congress and their membership.
Let me make it clear, I do have ideas about what can be done about the unbridled greed that has grabbed our country by the throat and ripped it out by the tonsils.
My Idea like all we Commie Liberals is called “Federal Regulation”.
We are already hearing every politician in America bleating that more regulation is needed. What?! More regulation. I thought that “unbridled capitalism, free from any but market restraints” was the Holy Grail.
I almost choked on my coffee when I heard the two morons McCain and Palin calling for more regulation and worse – putting the chopped heads of most Wall Street mavens on cast iron picks surrounding the Washington Mall.
Boy that’s a real “180” compared to the usual McCain frauds – Can you say Keating Five? Can you say, “Marry a beer heiress whose father was an indicted felon along with his tax cheat brother?” Can you say, “Nominate a beauty queen with more gall than O.J. as the Vice President of the United States?”
Barack Obama looks a thousand feet tall on this issue. He has been warning us all, for years, that bankers, brokers, and insurance companies were about the closest thing to organized crime. John McCain – well, for him, things are still wonderful, – those shock treatments must be working.
“Same old.” Somehow the same crooks who run the banks and financial institutions, the same idiots who can’t run airlines, the same jerks who build huge cars when they knew that oil was getting low and costly –Will, I have little doubt, figure out some way to save themselves and have you and your kids, and your grandchildren pay for it.
In case you didn’t know it – you’re already – each and every one of you – responsible to pay all the bankrupts companies the Feds took over about $11,000.00 – and I mean each of you – including your kids, your grandkids and your parents, working or not.
If by some miracle the entire Congress is replaced by men and women of conscience maybe it will pass some vet0-proof regulations which will not only control our natural human gluttony, but also make some of these “white collar” crimes punishable by death.
Now that would be something.
Jeff Koopersmith is an internationally renowned political consultant, opinion research authority and policy analyst. He has lobbied for causes including the alternative fuel sector and women's health, and is an expert on the international real estate market. He lives in Philadelphia, Washington and Geneva.