Wall Street, The Oligarchs and Chip Diller (Please Sir! May I Have Another!)
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and read an article about protesters marching on the Wells Fargo building in San Francisco. A Wells Fargo representative met with the press and said that, as Wells Fargo had already repaid the TARP money, he was puzzled why they would be the target of protestors. After reading the article I went to the comments section and found a lot of comments attacking the protestors and defending the banks.
Now Wells Fargo doesn’t send out just any fool to represent them, so there is no doubt that this man was lying when he said he didn’t understand why anyone would be protesting actions by banks like Wells Fargo. What this Wells Fargo executive was doing was trying to control the media cycle by putting out a story that amounts to, “Nothing to see here folks. We’re good citizens. We’re not the bad guys.”
Believe me, he knows better.
But until you know the truth, you have no way of distinguishing lies from truth. You may even identify with this guy, I mean he’s wearing a suit and tie, probably has a nice family, makes a nice income. He doesn’t look like some low life mafiosa. The reality here though is that the mafia has never, in its long history, done a fraction of the social damage done by the financial institutions over the past ten years. Their sociopathic rape of the world economy has left those with almost nothing with nothing, has assured that those barely getting by will now fall through what ever safety net was holding them, has left many retirees without their nest eggs, and has left our schools with no choice but to get rid of teachers and raise class size.
But let’s return to the facts of this financial fiasco–what actually happened. First, the TARP money. All that talk about “We paid back TARP?” Well, yeah, but what was TARP? It was public money given to financial institutions so they wouldn’t go belly up, taking western civilization with them. “Here’s some money sir. Thank you very much sir. Please don’t rob us again sir.” And this gentleman was bragging about paying back TARP?
I might sound like I’m exaggerating, being harsh–unless you know the real story.
The MERS Con
First, there is no federal mortgage law, so mortgage law is rooted in New York state mortgage law. New York mortgage law requires a clear chain of paperwork with homeowners and fiduciary signature, properly notarized and dated, with the transaction recorded in the county and state of record. But what the banks sold was something called MBS, mortgage backed securities. But for mortgages to have value they have to be legal, with a proper chain of paperwork registered in the county and state in which they originated; meaning, like every other financial transaction, taxes paid. But in order to dodge paying taxes they registered them on MERS, an electronic registry system, which meant there was no legal chain of paperwork.
This is illegal.
There is no legal standing allowing banks to dodge registering with and paying taxes to the counties and states where the transaction occurred. So that is the MERS con. Now for the MBS con.
The MBS con
For mortgages to have value there must be some way of determining their value—like the income and credit worthiness of the homeowner and the viability of the local real estate market. But in MBS they chop up each mortgage, then pair it with other chopped up mortgages, until any evaluation of their true worth is impossible—without collusion on the part of the rating agencies that is, which is exactly what happened.
The bottom line is that there are trillions worth of MBS not worth the paper they’re (not) printed on (the San Franciso’s assessors office did an audit and found significant legal problems with 85% of mortgages); which means there’s no way to legally prove who owns what; which means there is no legal standing to foreclose; which means there are trillions of dollars of securities that are worthless; which all means that if we had simply let the banks fail they’d have brought down the world economy with them.
But you see, they knew this all along; win I win, lose you pay–it’s all house money–this is called privatizing loss and socializing risk–a good gig if you can get it. And they also knew it would fail, but not before they got theirs (they knew they were too big to fail). They knew they would walk away with no jail time, with their jobs and ill got gains.
This was the largest transfer of wealth from public to private hands in the history of the world. The second largest was, according to John Kenneth Galbraith, the S & L scandal (with daddy Bush in the White House). The great sting. The great con. Welfare for the rich.
And those financial shockwaves moving around the world, those cuts to education and to social programs for the neediest among us? Yeah. Pretty much the result of these dudes greed. Like that fat cat lying through his teeth to the press, the one who cares about nothing in life but the number of digits in his next bonus.
So, after reading this article about the protest in San Francisco, I scroll through the comments and find people defending the banks, people who have bought, hook line and sinker, the propaganda of those oligarchs that promote the view of protestors as lazy bums who resent hard working successful types, like bankers. So when I read ordinary folk spitting back the crack head propaganda of the oligarchs I have to laugh. I think of Chip Diller, the Kevin Bacon character from Animal House.
“Thank you sir, may I have another!”
The press seem puzzled by the Wall Street Protests, as if there’s some great mystery about our demands, about what it is exactly we are protesting.
Here’s what we want–we want our country, our democracy, back. We live in the information age and these protests are about exposing the lies of the oligarchs and their toadies in the press and government.
Here’s the three planks of the Wall Street protests and, by extension, all the protests all around the world–know the truth, speak the truth, demand the truth.
And the truth is the international oligarchs in the Middle East, in China, in Russia, in Europe and in the US are vampires sucking the life blood of their people.
This mess began with Clinton and has been exacerbated by Obama, but it came of age with Bush, as the S&L scandal did with Bush senior. And while I am committed to the principle that it is crucial to avoid defining yourself by what you are against, as this is always easier than articulating what you are for, I also feel it’s high time to call a spade a spade, and no one does this better than Hunter Thompson.
In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are (screwed) until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep.
The Great Shark Hunt, 1979