March 10, 2013

Following The Examples Set For Us

Readers suggested a topic on fighting back. “I was thinking about the 1%, or the hellish alliance of Washington and Wall Street and how failure at that level just seems to get repeatedly rewarded, while the whistle blowers are punished within an inch of their lives and livelihoods. Non-enforcement of immigration laws, stagnant or decreasing pay for many, foreign H1-Bs brought in to compete with citizens in the better paying fields, lousy products from China, crap that doesn’t work or falls apart, internet services forcing their ‘customers’ into crappy situations while dealing with all sorts of glitches (ebay, FB, Google, etc.), lousy paying service jobs, companies reneging on pay raises, pensions, etc. major cities in the US becoming bombed-out slums. Paying more, getting less. Manipulated gas prices every day. Rotting infrastructure. I can go on, but feel free to add to the list. My point is that there’s an awful lot of ‘make it go wrong’ at the ‘elite’ level and has been for a while.”

“But, somehow, things still work in day to day life. Why? Because the ‘Main Streeters’ still do a relatively good job at grunt level. They manage to get to work despite the rise in gas prices, accept less job security, deal with financial problems, crappy school systems, all that. But they still do what they’re supposed to do, ring those cash registers, help customers or clients, teach and care for kids, make sure the traffic signals work, the computer systems going, close the deals, install the equipment, do the clerking, enter the information etc. etc. All these people, the despised 99% (or maybe it’s 55%, if you take away those on public dole) make it go right, under constant threat. There seems to be some sort of compact that the elites can screw up all they want and still get paid, but the rest of us have to do their jobs. Why is that?”

“What if, for one day, they made it go wrong? Just didn’t code properly? Just ‘forgot’ to enter some piece of crucial information? Jammed the cash registers? Messed up the travel reservations? Cut the wrong trees, installed the equipment improperly? Screwed up the bank deposits? ‘Lost’ the necessary part for the job. Just, whatever grunt work they do for lousy pay, they just didn’t do it right?”

“It’s been suggested that a ‘national’ strike by regular working folks would never happen, and I agree. It’d be even better if folks weren’t obvious about it. Go ahead, show up for work. Do your job. Mess things up, but covertly. You can always say you ‘made a mistake’. Or ‘misspoke’. Happens to everyone, right? After all, the example is set from the top and we’re just following the examples set for us. Even more fun would be not knowing who was going to participate. And hey, it’s only for one day. The ‘elites’ do the nasty EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! How about a national ‘Make It Go Wrong’ day for the rest of us?”

A reply, “I think Gerald Celente was on point when he said, ‘When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it.’ Just flip that over. The majority still do have something to lose. While they still have a house, food, their cars, a sort of working credit card, their income, they will not lose it. They will suck it up out of fear of losing even the more imporant things and not just the discretionary.”

One said, “I try to Make It Go Wrong every day. I don’t borrow. It’s a lonely battle.”

Another said, “This is brilliant! Let’s see if America’s disgruntled inner vandal can ruin what’s left of its infrastructure, supply and distribution chain, research-in-progress, emergency services, communications networks, etc., all to spite the face of its .1%. (That’ll show ‘em!) And of course we proactive anarchists will all have the restraint and thoughtfulness to limit ourselves to inconsequential and non-idological mischief only. Guy Fawkes Lives!”

One added, “Don’t we have a day for the 99% already? I believe it’s called Labor Day. We could just all participate by either not going to work and/or not participating in activities (shopping, dining out, movies, etc.) that eventually result in trickle-up (to the 1%) economics.”

A reply, “This whole economic crisis/disaster illustrates how we have gone PAST the point of diminishing marginal returns. We have a long way to go before the majority realizes that and acts accordingly. There is still a lot of juice for vampire squids & their wannabees to suck out of the system before it’s GONE.”

And finally, “Seems like Eric Holder’s admission that the largest investment banks are too big to jail is further proof that the Geithner Doctrine will continue despite his departure. Our venal congress can’t be counted on to do what Obama should have done, i.e., break up the To Big To Fail banks.”

From MarketWatch. “Attorney General Eric Holder, the top U.S. law-enforcement official, finally admitted this week that bank executives truly are above the law and may commit crimes with virtual impunity. ‘I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,’ Holder said. ‘When we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute — if you do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.’”

From Reuters. “Attorney General Eric Holder came right out this week and told the Senate Judiciary Committee what many observers have long suspected - that his department has refrained from more aggressive criminal prosecutions of the so-called too-big-to-fail banks, exactly because of their special status.”

“In short, we have the top law enforcement official in the United States admitting that if a bank is big enough and systematically important enough, it will not be subject to the same laws as the rest of us. First of all, it is Holder’s job to enforce all laws - not just the ones that he thinks are consistent with financial stability. Secondly, he is almost certainly dead wrong that slamming a too-big-to-fail bank with a criminal prosecution would hurt the global economy. Indeed, it is quite the reverse.”

“The strength of the rule of law has to be one of the biggest protections for shareholders, and whatever weakens it threatens them. A country with lawless and entitled large banks is a country which will have lower structural growth and worse investment returns. Sound familiar?”

“Money will be badly allocated, both because TBTF banks will have an incentive to make financial products as complex as possible, and because bank employees will game the system to their own advantage. Heard this story before?”

“TBTF bank employees will have even more incentive than before the crisis to take on too much risk and to flout the law. After all, they will continue to pocket huge sums and the most they can lose is their job rather than their liberty.”

“Senior managers, whatever they say, have less reason to control their subordinates, and given the short shelf life of so many banking careers, that much more incentive to make coin while times are good. Money will flow into and out of the largest banks, but very little of it will be captured by those actually footing the bill.”

“While Holder was right in calling for better measures to end too-big-to-fail, he was dead wrong in his calculations of the costs of the matter. We are all paying, every day.”

Bits Bucket for March 10, 2013

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