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Which is the Bigger Threat: Terrorism or Wall Street Bonuses?

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Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0

By Wallace C. Turbeville, the former CEO of VMAC LLC, and a former Vice President of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

The current system of trader compensation will continue to decay the heart of Wall Street.

Which is a greater threat to the nation — terrorism or the relentless decline of middle income families? Unless we abandon our core values out of unwarranted fear, terror cannot fundamentally change our way of life. The number of people affected by growing income disparity is vast. When I was a student, income disparity was indicative of an underdeveloped and unstable society.

The government appropriately devotes enormous resources to protect our lives and property from terrorism. It is unthinkable that a leader would display any weakness opposing this threat. Politicians have stiff backbones when it comes to terrorism.

In contrast, the government is timid and half-hearted in its approach to the system which perversely rewards a few Wall Street traders with billions of dollars of bonuses, yet allows the foundation to decay.

Kenneth Feinberg issued his report identifying outrageous Wall Street compensation of executives despite their role in the financial disaster and bail out. He proposed that the banks voluntarily adopt “brake provisions” that permit boards of directors to nullify bonuses in the event of a new financial crisis.

He might have more success asking the lions of the Serengeti to give the wildebeests a sporting chance of making an escape.

Over the last fifteen years, the financial sector’s percentage of GDP has increased dramatically. At the same time, the median family income stagnated and then declined. I do not believe that this is a coincidence.

The large banks have changed. They slice and dice the constituent elements of a stagnant economy, squeezing value out in ever more sophisticated ways. Wall Street has turned away from its roll as the financial backer of industry and commerce. In the short term, it is more profitable for them to use their capital for trading. Newfangled software and MIT “quants” allow the traders to “rip the faces off” of corporate counterparties and investors which were once trusted clients.

These young traders are simply doing what America has told them to do. They are allowed to earn obscene amounts of money using the advantageous information, technology and capital of their employers. Making money from less powerful counterparties is like shooting fish in a barrel. The banks make so much money that they have no problem shoveling it out to the traders.

The alternative careers for these talented young people offer upside which is modest by comparison. Besides, the trading world, in which the law of the jungle prevails, appeals to youthful aggressiveness. Michael Lewis expected that college students would be appalled by the amoral environment he described in “Liar’s Poker.” Instead, the overwhelming response he received from students was a desire to get in on the action. The draining of talented and energetic young professionals away from corporate America where they could help create jobs by the millions may be as damaging as the new allocation of wealth.

The government’s flaccid approach to Wall Street compensation, embodied in the Feinberg report, is appalling. Geithner and Bernake appear intimidated by Wall Street, yet intent on its approval. Why do they guilelessly buy into the notion that giant, multi-purpose banks dominated by trading are essential to America’s competitiveness in the world? Smaller, less risky institutions aligned with economic growth would seem to be a better idea for the vast majority of Americans.

Greenspan and his progeny, including Geithner and Bernake, are enthralled by financial innovation. Innovation, by itself, can be good or bad. Innovation does not fall into the “good” category if it corrupts the home mortgage market, siphons off business productivity and the jobs and wages of employees and unfairly enriches the few at the expense of the many. It is good if it creates jobs and enriches the public as a whole.

Trader compensation is at the heart of the problem. It encourages behavior that is inconsistent with Wall Street’s most important function: raising capital for industry and commerce. The banks and the government are afraid that the traders will desert the banks and move to hedge funds if their compensation is reduced. If they do jump ship, it is all the better for America. At least hedge funds can blow themselves up without crippling the US economy in the process.

Former traders now run most of the financial sector. They believe that the traders somehow deserve compensation at the prevailing levels. The system will not change unless it is forced to do so. The restrictions in the financial reform legislation only inhibit specific abuses. The banks will concoct new ways to trade risk. It is the only way to maintain their unconscionable profits (that is, until the next bubble bursts and we are in an even worse predicament). The only way to really change the system is to reduce short term incentives, that is to say limit bonuses. The government needs the kind of resolve it uses when fighting terrorism. After all, the stakes are actually higher.

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39 comments

  1. NOTaREALmerican

    It depends who the audience is.

    If we assume that the goal of any well run society (meaning, well run for the nobility) is to manipulate their peasants into paranoid fear-of-outsiders, then trrrrrsssts are the winning ticket.

    In fact, I think all REAL Patriots should be much more worried about trrrrsss getting Wall Street’s bonuses.

    (Queue eagle: )

    Protect America’s bonuses from trrrrrrssss; vote Republicrat!

  2. Glen

    I cannot imagine terrorists being able to inflict the damage that Wall St already has done. Wiping out the vibrant middle class which was the envy of the free world, destroying the American dream of from the roots up hard work to success (it’s now the European dream since it happens there more often).

    Osama Bin Laden always knew to attack America’s economic center first for the greatest results, he just never imagined he’d have such strong and willing allies. Taking down the twin towers was never an act which could threaten the fundamental existence of America, but gutting the middle class, outsourcing manufacturing, and turning Wall St into a den of greed and corruption will destroy America.

  3. attempter

    Which is a greater threat to the nation — terrorism or the relentless decline of middle income families? Unless we abandon our core values out of unwarranted fear, terror cannot fundamentally change our way of life. The number of people affected by growing income disparity is vast. When I was a student, income disparity was indicative of an underdeveloped and unstable society.

    Yes. Foreign terrorism is no threat. Domestic corporate terrorists, on the other hand, are the worst existential threat American democracy and freedom have ever faced.

    The comprehensive assault on every aspect of economic stability, broad-based prosperity, public spaces, and democracy itself, constitutes the worst attack this country has ever sustained. The goal of this massive treason is to destroy America once and for all.

    The government appropriately devotes enormous resources to protect our lives and property from terrorism. It is unthinkable that a leader would display any weakness opposing this threat. Politicians have stiff backbones when it comes to terrorism.

    In contrast, the government is timid and half-hearted in its approach to the system which perversely rewards a few Wall Street traders with billions of dollars of bonuses, yet allows the foundation to decay.

    This is exactly backwards. Terrorism constitutes no existential threat, and there’s nothing which can remotely be called an objective correlative for the trumped-up hysteria, creeping police statism, and so-called “Global War on Terror” which is really just a massive extension of embezzling Pentagon budgets.

    So the only character options for any politician who supports these things are criminality or cowardice. A “stiff backbone” isn’t on the list.

    By contrast, while perhaps some in government are cowardly about constraining Wall Street and corporatism in general, the vast majority are completely, irredeemably corrupt, and are consciously, gleefully aggressive in the way they plunder the country on behalf of their gangster masters.

    Over the last fifteen years, the financial sector’s percentage of GDP has increased dramatically. At the same time, the median family income stagnated and then declined. I do not believe that this is a coincidence.

    Not a coincidence at all. The 1971 Lewis Powell memo is a good place to start in reading about the comprehensive totalitarian plan:

    http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate_accountability/powell_memo_lewis.html

    These young traders are simply doing what America has told them to do.

    “America” didn’t tell them to become criminals. A corrupt, gangster system whose government aspect has alienated all sovereignty and renounced all legitimacy told them to do it and continues to tell them to do it.

    The system is organized crime; it’s not America. It and its cadres are no part of America. They’re waging vicious war on America.

    1. colinc

      Well said, sir! Moreover, thanks for the link!! That document should be “relabeled” from “Powell’s memo” to “The Corporatist Manifesto.” Events over the past 3+ decades would seem to indicate that the “captains of industry” not only heeded Powell’s declaration but implemented it in the most extreme and egregious manner possible. Much like McNamara’s “talks” over the close of the Vietnam war served to escalate “the war on drugs” to absurd levels. Organized crime was never “defeated,” just transmuted into the corporate and political oligarchy that is now being exhibited.

      Within a couple of years after I “returned” to college in the mid-’80s, I learned and have been telling everyone since that, in this country (the USA), what passes as “education” is nothing more than an abject form of programming. In other words, for the slower readers, if you have a bachelor’s degree or “higher,” there is an INCREASED probability that “your thoughts” are most certainly NOT “your own.” You have been brain-washed to “believe” and “conform” rather than “think critically.” After all, an uninformed and ignorant populace is easier to control and manipulate to act against their own interests. That is part and parcel of the overall psychopathy that “what ‘they’ don’t know can and will be used against ‘them’ for ‘our’ profit!”

      Alas, I think all we can do at this point is say, to whomever will listen, the immortal words of Andrei Bonovia, the ‘XO’ (speaking to his captain) on the Soviet sub trying to sink Red Ocober, “You arrogant ass. You’ve killed ‘us’!”

      1. attempter

        Yes, that Corporatist manifesto is written in classical totalitarian code, in that for everything it claims “the enemy” is doing those in the know are supposed to read, “this is what we are/should be doing”, while at the same time providing the surface pretext for doing it.

  4. Hugh

    I second what attempter is saying. It is not a choice between terrorism and something else. What we see now is political terrorists vs. financial terrorists. The financial terrorists make the political ones look like pikers. The “young traders” are not misguided innocents. They are more like street punks aspiring to become “made” men.

    And innovation? Get real. Innovation nowadays is just code for fraud, con, scam, and Ponzi scheme. The poster really needs to ask himself one question: Does he think we have a solid financial system, albeit one currently experiencing significant problems or does he think what we have is crony casino capitalism? It rather seems the first because he gives everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt. It’s just some bad priorities. Traders are only doing what we ask them, etc. I take the second option. These guys are crooks. They should be viewed as such and treated as such. No excuses, not 3 years after the housing bust and almost 2 years after the meltdown. If you can’t wake up and smell the coffee, it’s either that you or your nose is dead.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “Yes. Foreign terrorism is no threat. Domestic corporate terrorists, on the other hand, are the worst existential threat American democracy and freedom have ever faced.”

      Really the article’s title question could be paraphrased quite simply as: “Which is the Bigger Threat: Terrorism or the Cause of Terrorism?” Wall Street fraud, extortion, and the military violence required to sustain it is the genesis, the virus; terrorism is the symptom of an underlying disease. Our metastasizing, eternal state of war against this symptom is in fact the real cancer.

  5. i on the ball patriot

    Kudos to attempter and Hugh and a pox on Wallace C. Turbeville for mouthing this apologetic, deflective bullshit. Its not “financial innovation” its an intentional gutting of the middle and under classes. Wall street bonuses and the war on terror are tentacles of the same interconnected scam.

    These gangsters belong in prison and on the end of ropes. We need a death penalty for financial traitors.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I’ll second that. High writes about Turbeville “…he gives everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt. It’s just some bad priorities.”

      I’ve observed the same from Turbeville’s and J K Galbraith’s articles, like diehard Obama supporters with a maddening insistence, bordering on willful blindness, on giving these guys the benefit of doubt, saying they’re underperforming and overpaid, when in fact its patently obvious they should be earning fifty cents doing laundry or assembly at a privatized supermax. In this, intentionally or not, these authors are hurdles to the wholesale systemic reform required…system tweakers where bunkerbusters are needed.

    2. Progressive Ed

      Have you taken a look at the details of the administration’s “health care” and “financial regulation” legislation? And this is OK with you?

  6. steelhead23

    “Trader compensation is at the heart of the problem. It encourages behavior that is inconsistent with Wall Street’s most important function: raising capital for industry and commerce. The banks and the government are afraid that the traders will desert the banks and move to hedge funds if their compensation is reduced. If they do jump ship, it is all the better for America. At least hedge funds can blow themselves up without crippling the US economy in the process.”

    The author appears to have forgotten about LTCM. Simply put, if I can get a Primary Dealer to let me leverage up 80 to 1, then my hedge fund could become a financial weapon of mass destruction. Paying quants less might work, but the better trick would be to force all banks to which federal guarantees and access to the Fed’s various windows are granted to be organized as non- profit organizations. No profit, no motive to maximize profits, no wicked financial innovation.

  7. Dave of Maryland

    At the rate things are going, the Pentagon & Wall Street will go on getting everything they want, despite protests from the rest of the country.

    At some point Social Security will be ended. I don’t see how that can be stopped.

    Add in states that are bust & strapped & pushed to the wall, and the solution becomes succession. There isn’t a state in the country that wouldn’t be sitting pretty if it had the money that Washington currently extracts from it to send to Wall Street & the Pentagon. So far as I can see, the only reason not to secede is Social Security payments.

    That the states are all mindlessly corrupt & petty merely makes the process interesting. If independent, they would quickly print worthless money. But hey, they would be OUR gangsters. NOT Washington cronies.

  8. Dave

    both terrorism & the declining economy/banker bonuses are courtesy of the same people.

    Think of it, if a disaster or terrorist act makes people panic & hide behind the puppet in the oval office why wouldn’t they go ahead and allow/exaserbate/create one?

    The cat is out of the bag, if you don’t see the truth you are now the minority.

    http://www.educate-yourself.org

  9. Jim

    Attempter, Hugh and I on the ball patriot appear in agreement that Tuberville’a analysis does not get anywhere near to the heart of the problem when he suggests mere policy reforms such as reducing trader compensation in order to reduce short-term incentives.

    My question is the following: How is the nihilism (i.e. gangsterism) emerging throughout the leadership of major institutions in American society related to our evolving social structure? Or is it?

    Yves, Ed Harrison on others on NC have begun to trace this logic toward nihilism more specifically in the historical evolution of investment banking(i.e. the movement toward logic of the trader) (Although Yves and Ed still appear to think that enlightened policy proposals such as Tubervilles will save us.)

    How do each of you see the link (if any) between personality and social formation?

    What are the type of specific structual reforms (if any) which will contain or eliminate this march to gangsterism in our leadership structure?

    Do you see cultural/theological/ethical visions as important in your new politics?

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Good questions. But first, I see this as the thesis of **this post**, not intended to be Turbeville’s sole, only, single fix for our outdated, inept economic beliefs and policies.

      I’ve read a number of Mr. Turbeville’s posts at New Deal 2.0, and have always found them informative.

      We’ve had a period of about 30 years (since Reagan in 1980), in which politics has been based far more on ‘economic ideology’ than on any fundamental knowledge of what it means to be human.

      Our policies have been based upon idealized assumptions about how ‘free markets’ work. That meant paying homage to ‘capital’, on the assumption that accumulations of money would magically produce ‘more jobs’ (without criteria for what constitutes a ‘good job’).

      Meanwhile, too few paid attention to the growing body of research about human intellectual, emotional, and social skills develop. Those require caregiving, but our economic assumptions — which turn ‘capital’ into a fetish — fail to adequately reward, compensate, or consider the significance of quality caregiving.

      We’re reaping a bitter, rancorous harvest as a result.
      We’ve cared more about bank accounts than kids. We’ve put more policy focus on ‘growing’ bank accounts than on ‘growing’ healthy social interactions — all of that has been (mostly) left to non-profits, churches, and increasingly beleaguered schools.

      And I’d argue that Turbeville’s concerns about time horizons dovetails with my concerns; it is short-term focus to emphasize policies that view tax cuts as a means to ‘wealth creation’, when those same taxes could be spent to build a park for kids to play in — and pay a few people to supervise kids crafts, and swimming, and tennis, or other activities that build social skills, confidence, and knowledge.

      If you take a longer view, then you have to look at an average lifespan of 75 years; at which point, the *value* of early childhood programs, or good recreational programs for kids, begin to show their value **over time** in ways that in our current short-term, quarterly-report myopia is simply not possible.

      ===================
      FWIW, anyone who thinks that this is Turbeville’s sole solution to our problems ought to take a couple minutes to go over to New Deal 2.0 and check out some of his other analses; he has written about the need to link climate + energy policy in a way that is enlightening and insightful. He has written on a variety of topics and always appears to bring a refreshing set of data to problems of enormous significance.

      I wonder whether a few commenters simply saw that he’s ex-GS and got cranky…? If so, that’s extremely unfortunate.
      I’ve found his posts very thought-provoking, and he appears to draw on some terrific data sets.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Apologies; my ‘paste’ failed on the previous comment. Should read:

        Good questions. But first, I see this as the thesis of **this post**, not intended to be Turbeville’s sole, only, single fix for our outdated, inept economic beliefs and policies.

        The current system of trader compensation will continue to decay the heart of Wall Street.

        This thesis is for **this post** and I can’t quite fathom why other commenters appear to assume this is Mr. Turbeville’s sole solution to our economic confusions.

    2. skippy

      Jim…for my self I see: First we must position/accept the role of conservators of this lovely planet that gave birth to us *it is our mother*, then we can come to grips with what it means to be human and what path[s are available in experiencing it.

      Our banking/financing feudal lords are using a scorched earth policy, we know how that ends.

    3. attempter

      How is the nihilism (i.e. gangsterism) emerging throughout the leadership of major institutions in American society related to our evolving social structure? Or is it?

      Yves, Ed Harrison on others on NC have begun to trace this logic toward nihilism more specifically in the historical evolution of investment banking(i.e. the movement toward logic of the trader) (Although Yves and Ed still appear to think that enlightened policy proposals such as Tubervilles will save us.)

      How do each of you see the link (if any) between personality and social formation?

      The neoliberal form of oligopoly capitalism selects for all the worst scum among hominids – souldead thugs who value nothing but greed, power, violence, and loutishness for its own sake. It’s what Mencken called the peculiarly American “libido of the ugly”, the urge to render everything as ugly and vandalized as possible. Albeit over the last 40 years the system has cultivated a far more ugly, vicious version of it than Mencken ever saw.

      So the system selects for this gangster type, this elemental viciousness combined with an extreme form of American materialism and unearned sense of entitlement.

      Then it seeks to enforce that kind of behavior in everyone who’s not completely like that, or who’s naturally little or not at all like that. Advertising, the corporate media, corporate academia, corporate entertainment, job insecurity, the debt treadmill, and the general nastiness of day to day life, all enforce it. It’s a society-wide version of Gresham’s dynamic, the bad drives out the good.

      What are the type of specific structual reforms (if any) which will contain or eliminate this march to gangsterism in our leadership structure?

      I don’t think the system can be reformed or its cadres rehabilitated. It’s a terminal kleptocracy.

      Do you see cultural/theological/ethical visions as important in your new politics?

      They’re the core of it. The culture and morality of the redemption of a real economy based on real work, community, democracy, and human freedom, positive freedom; justice for the criminals and restitution for the people.

      Of course every single element of the neoliberal corporatist ideology is not only morally obscene but a proven empirical lie. It didn’t create jobs but destroyed them; didn’t nurture a stable society but radically destabilized it; didn’t spread prosperity and democratic power but destroyed both for the people while concentrating unearned wealth and tyrannical power in the hands of a few criminals. “Trickle-down”, so beloved of both conservatives and liberals, never happened. Not once.

      So even beyond the overwhelming moral imperative, literally every single precept of the ideology of the last 40 years has been empirically proven to be a lie. Not one point of it ever worked. That’s what destroyed the economy and that’s what destroyed America itself.

      Now the only question is whether there’s still such a thing as a citizenry who can redeem, restitute, and rebuild. But they can only do so by first taking back the works from the criminals who have hijacked it.

    1. steelhead23

      See my post above. I prefer a non-profit structure. Here is my simple clear logic. Banks perform best when they serve the public interest. Profit seeking is not necessarily adverse to the public interest, but certainly when it metasticizes into getting as much out of your customers as humanly possible, profit-seeking is not in the public interest. I will not disagree that profit-seeking is good for innovation. Unfortunately, those innovations have tended toward the Ponzi/obfuscation side, rather than the efficiency side. Treating banks as a regulated utility might limit their profit-seeking behavior (note: the enticement of profits has tended to create a banking system that corrupts its regulators) – forcing them to be non-profit absolutely would. But you are definitely on the right track. Banks either need to be regulated like a wayward child, or forced to become non-profit. The road we are currently on leads to serfdom.

  10. David Sheegog

    As long as we expect Corporate Boards, or some other inside-the-company entity to limit bonuses in ANY corp, we will continue to see growth of the incomes of our financial oligarchy and the gutting of the middle class. There is only one way to solve this nightmare of compound greed and that is to re-instate confiscatory taxes on incomes from any source over, say, 2 or 3 million dollars. I don’t think Turbeville appreciates how effective the 91% tax rate on income over $1M was in creating the great middle class and industrial power of this country before Kennedy, then Reagan deregulated greed with their unjustified taxes cuts for the rich.

  11. doc holiday

    Our revolutionary fathers were terrorists and guys like Washington and Hamilton, Jefferson and all the other capitalist dudes were all in the game to make a buck. In for a penny, in for a pound — and the endless wonders of interest and monetization — it was all there back then and all these young punks are doing today is just adding a little extra branding and glitter. There aint one of yah that wouldn’t love to make what these superstar tramp traders are pulling in — but, in the end, these whores will end up in the same gutters, looking at the same stars as the whores they replaced. It’s the circle of life … get out of the way and look the other way, because technology will flatten your ass….

    See: Lion King – Circle of Life
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX07j9SDFcc

    * This has not been reviewed for logic.

    1. Skippy

      I would like to ride my bike across the Australian Continent, wana come for a ride.

      I think its almost time for this defective marsupial to enjoy the simple plesures of life (for frick sake only have one go) and leave the separation of corn and peanuts from the backside of rulers to this steaming pile of excrement (tolkin/token world) to the men/women of finacial worship, to their own devices.

      Whats a body to do, can’t kill them (too French/forein thingy), can’t vote them out (they supply/fund the canadtes), can’t speak out in plan sight (homeland security/micorwaves et al pointed at your head), can’t punch out (bad for your FICO score/ job prospects), can’t can’t can’t ad infinity.

      Skippy…PS wana skipper Kerrys boat, get him to go fore deck and back wash the jib aka the human fly treatment like 40k out….ummm how long does it take to turn it around in luffing conditions…ummm…hell make that for all the fat, bloated, self induldged asshats!

      1. Vinny

        Biking across Australia sounds like a great idea! Can I join on my Harley?

        Seriously, I need to get into shape too. The last 6 months in Greece took its toll on my waist. But we’ll be moving to California soon, and plan on getting into shape there.

        Vinny

        1. skippy

          Sure…if you feel like peddling it.

          The *Strand* is cruel to fat cells as it is to pasty whiteness, so be prepared.

    2. craazyman

      FWIW, I don’t believe it’s true at all that “aint one of yah that wouldn’t love to make what these superstar tramp traders are pulling in”.

      I wouldn’t need anywhere near that money, and would be bored out of my mind wasting the hours of my life stuck in a shallow rut of screen-staring-money-lust-addiction every day playing the little video game with other people’s money and raping the taxpayer when the bets go bad . . . after paying off the congress, senate and administration and any other public figure whose soul is shallow enough and mind is weak enough to take my bribe.

      BTW, I was a highly paid sell-side stock analyst (for someone my age) in the 1980s, and walked away from all of it because I hated the boring and repetitive job so much and, even then, was disgusted by the shallow craft-less money lust that permeated the industry (oh well, my little education, ha ha ha, sensitive soul that I am. What came after was even worse. Far worse. And I sort of know what it’s like to arrive in the US in a crate, illegal and penniless, with a gun to your head that says “survive.” So I’ve had a weird life.)

      But raping people the way those traders do would nauseate me. And how those jackasses can look at themselves in the mirror every day and not soul puke their guts onto the glass in revulsion at the very foundation of their being is beyond me. The men and the women, living night and day lost in the choking stink of moneybloodlust and gluttony glorified by the patina of mathematics and theory, and calling it Life.

      That said, I would dearly love an honest 10-bagger. Need to move to Paris and live in an absinthe bar. I’ve had it with all this nonsense and it’s time to ascend. :)

  12. Vinny

    Clearly Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan/Chase, General Motors, and British Petroleum are terrorist organizations whose leaders need to be rounded up like the dogs that they are and sent to Gitmo for a little waterboarding vacation.

    Furthermore, latest intelligence reports indicate that British Petroleum is a terrorist organization that has been operating clandestinely under the alias “BP”.

    Vinny

  13. JTFaraday

    “Newfangled software and MIT “quants” allow the traders to “rip the faces off” of corporate counterparties and investors which were once trusted clients.

    These young traders are simply doing what America has told them to do.”

    !

    I’m speechless. Maybe someone else can tell Turbeville where America really thinks such traders should go.

  14. RichFam

    Larry Ellison made 1.8 billion last year and he never worked on wall street. I guess he made money in a blogger approved way…

    1. Robespierre

      Not the same, Oracle actually creates value out of nothing by translating brain power into code. Financial industries extract value out of wealth that already exists. They are more akin to a tax and who thinks that the bigger the tax the better we are?

      1. Progressive Ed

        Excellent post. What we are seeing (other than out and out criminal behavior) is the “financialization” of the US economy.
        Wikipedia has a nice description of this concept, plus how it’s a common evolution for economies in the past.

  15. ep3

    you make some valid points about compensation. One thing we have overlooked is that following the banking reforms of the depression, bank compensation was returned to general equilibrium with other sectors of the economy. We haven’t broken this disequilibrium yet this time around.
    And again, we are an empire. This is what empires do; they grow mega-conglomerates that can compete on a global scale.

    1. Robespierre

      Well that is a good laugh. Empires will normally have control over their conglomerates not the other way around. We are no longer an empire and therefore the country is run by bankers.

  16. ella

    Economic terrorism as perpetrated by the Wall Street Bonus system is far more dangerous because it effects more people.

  17. ella

    Economic terrorism as perpetrated by the Wall Street Bonus system is far more dangerous because it effects more people and the entire US economy.

  18. Redou

    Perhaps:

    -What we are seeing is societal evolution under current
    circumstances.

    -The old labels have value but cannot explain the new
    phenomonena.

    -Capitalism was Carnegie, Rockefeller, and others
    investing their own money for profit and creating
    value, real wealth, jobs. Now Capitalism is traders
    speculating with other people’s money.

    -Journalism – was – independent reporters seeking
    the facts. Now it is corporate-controlled sophists
    (where the word sophisticated came from – sophists
    are sophisticated talkers who have no real interest
    in the truth – as opposed to philosophers)

    -Socialism was the lower classes forcing the
    wealthy to share wealth. Now it is lower classes
    selling their vote for monthly checks, middle
    classes demanding services and corporate elites
    financing political campaigns in exchange for
    favors.

    -Communism – was – a dictator(s) using force to engineer
    an entire society to his will. Now it is the
    Chinese allowing profit and private ownership while
    retaining political control.

    -Freedom was the right to make one’s own way in the world
    unhindered by demands of the rich and powerful. It
    carried responsibility for oneself and produced many
    blessings. Now freedom is the right to be irrespon-
    sible and have someone else pay for it.

    -What I believe happened to America is threefold:

    The population left the land and moved to the
    cities. The land taught self-reliance, hard work,
    family and responsibility. The city teaches the
    value of political connections. The people became
    nomadic, not connected to the land, family, or
    community. Thus was lost the concept of citizenship.
    One’s well being does not depend on relations with
    his neighbor.

    The machines took over much of the work. Now the
    population has too much money, too much free time,
    not enough exercise. Poor nutrition. The population
    is physically debilitated, ridden with drugs – weak
    and afraid.

    The changes came too fast. New knowledge exploded.
    Even the brightest cannot keep up. The fearful
    went into government service – they seek security
    and power. The bold risk takers are producing
    Ipods, movies, weapons. The average seek solace
    in consumer goods and drugs. the below average
    get a check or are incarcerated. The accelerated
    pace means the system will live and die quickly.

    The mantra used to be quid pro quo. Something for some-
    thing. A good rule for human relations. Value for
    value. Now it is something for nothing. A good
    definition of corruption. This did not come about
    because of a change in human nature, it was the
    human / social / physical environment that changed
    first. Jefferson wanted America to remain agrarian..
    Fed.gov actively promotes something for nothing
    because it is a means to their desire for power
    and security. A new feudal system. Instead of
    going to the house on the hill and asking the
    master for something – with hat in hand – people
    go to the welfare office, food stamp office, TARP
    office – hat in hand. Exactly what the founders stood
    against.
    In the end result – segments of the population will
    live in tents and work for food a la Roosevelt.
    A liberal in Washington’s time was someone who did
    not take his hat off to anyone. Gov’t corruption
    robbing populace of dignity and independence.

    What will happen?

    Like any system out of control, it cannot sustain
    the needs of it’s members. It cannot produce health
    or happiness. Thus it will break down into
    smaller divisions that can be managed. These
    divisions will have less freedom, more rules, and
    a demand for adherence to rigid codes.

    This process has already started:
    Gangs rule huge areas of the urban environment,
    relatively unhindered by the police.
    Teachers unions demand to set the curricula in
    schools – think they know better than the parents.
    Government employees lobby to retain their perks
    and salaries far in excess of private wages.
    The military consumes a huge slice of the nation’s
    wealth, unusual for a nation that is not being
    attacked. Substitutes the word ‘defense’ for what
    is really offense.
    Banks privitize profit and socialize losses and have
    the political power to do so.
    Lawyers turned courthouses into money machines
    rather than houses of justice.
    Police start to wear military clothes – acquire
    training in crowd control – the militarization of
    the police like Nazi Germany.

    Of course, these are just a few, but you see the pattern.
    These are all businesses, existing for the benefit
    of constituent members but inimical to the interests
    of the society at large. Existing by force or
    political power – rather than accord and compromise.

    These processes are organic in the sense that they were
    not planned. It was not a conspiracy. An
    evolutionary process.
    Voting Democrat or Republican will not stop the
    process.

    Hopefully, leaders (Statesmen? – rather than politicians)
    will emerge to smooth the transition. Like Gandhi,
    voices of reason and tolerance. As long as he lived
    the forces of division were held at bay, after his
    death, Pakistan was split off and now they’ve built
    nukes aimed at one another – a standoff.

    The human, when confronted with complexity and confusion
    will seek simplification – certainty. Even to the
    point of war.

    Britain’s loss of Empire was relatively smooth, first –
    opposed with force/violence, in the later stages
    a political fait accompli.

    In any event, the Old America – rugged individualism,
    wide open spaces, wilderness, low population,live
    and let live – low taxes – duty to neighbors and
    community – personal responsibility – morality.

    The Old America is not dead, still exists in pockets
    here and there and in the minds of some of the
    people.

    but the Old America has no political power and no
    cash. Political power and cash belong to the
    organizations. Unions, Government (the US government
    is the largest business in the world), Banks,
    States, Corporations – Ethnic Groups…..
    The violence will come from the needs or desires of
    the organizations – not from the people.

    In joining or allying themselves with the organizations -
    Americans have become desensitized. The current
    organized – orchestrated take over of the Middle
    East – a good example. 1.2 million dead Iraquis –
    women and children included – many millions more
    in camps and exiled – no sanitation, no jobs, no
    medicine – violence in the street. These are the
    marks of organization-in-action.
    Afghanistan:
    The Taliban burned the poppey fields. Their mullahs
    forbid drugs. Now we (yes, the US military) guarantees
    the drug shipments. The international banks – US banks
    included – launder the money for 1/3 share. No taxes
    on drug money. Don’t believe it? – well then don’t
    believe it.

    To Americans
    it’s all yesterday’s news wrapped up with the
    remains of the evening meal and thrown in the trash

    Saddam killed thousands but nothing on this scale. For a
    country that never attacked US. How to explain?
    Needs / desires of a coalition of organizations. Of
    course the organizations control the media spin to
    make it more palatable to the more sensitive among
    us.

    Gambling? Used to be the mob. Now Uncle Sam /
    States took over. Government takes a 1/3 rake off
    the top and income taxes profits on the remainder
    and the salaries of employees. If you think the
    tobacco companies make as much out of cigarettes
    as government does? If the government makes the
    lions share when you buy a pack – then who is selling
    you the cigarettes?

    The drug companies saw the
    profits the illegal dealers were making and have
    been gunning for market share ever since. They know
    how many pills end up on the street, the pharmacists
    know too – but so easy to look the other way -
    when the money is right. Who pays for the pills?
    Government is the biggest buyer. 1/2 the women I
    know are hooked on pills. Percoset, Delaudid,Soma,
    Oxycontin, hydrocodone. Waitresses, Secretaries,
    Schoolteachers, mothers, daughters…..

    A society feeding on itself. Exploiting it’s weakest
    members. What’s your credit score? Got your meds?
    Here’s your check. Call 1-800-somethingfornothing.
    The Soviets tried the same thing – total control -
    top down management – they busted up, went broke.
    The same thing will happen here.

    Contrast that with Jesus/Buddha – emphasize personal
    morality and the moral population will take care of
    the rest – a bottom up idea.

    When the public said NO tarp – Gov’t did it anyway.
    When the public said NO war – Gov’t did it anyway.

    This sound like democracy to you?

    They don’t work for you, you work for them. Not Public
    Service. Public Lip Service.

    The mob were pikers compared to these guys.

    Sorry for the rambling rant……

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Excellent rant …thanks for it …

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

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