Government of the people, for the rich, by the rich.

In a recent entry to his blog John Naughton points to what he calls “a terrific post by Dave Winer”. Winer, the pioneer in the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software, has indeed written an excellent piece about the American government’s handling of the recent financial turmoil.

Flash back to the United Nations on 2/5/03. An impressive almost Presidential Secretary of State, Colin Powell, delivering some chilling news, not coming right out and saying it, but definitely leading you to believe that Saddam has nukes and chemical weapons and stuff even more horrible and is getting ready to use all of it in some unspecified horrible way. It’s the lack of specificity that makes it so chilling.

Consider the whole scenario. Powell can’t tell us what the danger is because that would violate some security that he can’t violate. Well, I did what a lot of Americans did that day, I sucked it up and got behind my government. And they suckered me. And I’ll never forget it. I got fooled, and used, and a lot of people died, in the name of freedom, and it was all a lie.

We all paid a huge price that day, and the bill may be coming due today, because they’re presenting us with the same scenario, this time about the economy. And we’re not going for it. You can see it in the way things flipped around overnight. A lot of people woke up this morning, like I did, and realized — wait I’ve seen this movie before.

Now we have another impressive Almost Presidential secretary, Henry Paulson, who says there’s impending doom, but he can’t say exactly what it is, it’s not security this time, but fear of starting another level of bank runs. Senators and Representatives come out of a Thursday night meeting with the secretary (would they have believed the President) won’t say exactly what he said, but they are stunned. The next day buried in a sea of press about this event is an almost innocuous paragraph in a NYT piece that talks about a flight to safety from the US Treasury money market. OMG. A point made by the secretary to the Congresspeople, a lot of your constituents have their savings in money markets. The Senators think to themselves, Fuck the constituents, that’s where my retirement savings are! (And by the way, mine.)

I have cut Winer’s piece here to make room for a not unrelated commentry by Glenn Greenwald that appeared in Salon late hast week. Greenwald thinks that the support of the bankers and banking is motivated by Washington’s need to cosy up to the rich on whom it depends for its very existence.

…the beneficiaries of this week’s extraordinary Government schemes aren’t just the coincidental recipients of largesse due to some random stroke of good luck. The people on whose behalf these schemes are being implemented — the true beneficiaries — are the very same people who have been running and owning our Government — both parties — for decades, which is why they have been able to do what they’ve been doing without interference. They were able to gamble without limit because they control the Government, and now they’re having others bear the brunt of their collapse for the same reason — because the Government is largely run for their benefit.   

 I’m no expert in these matters, but I have to say that Greenwald’s the more persuasive of the two explanations. Yes, I’m sure that Senetors dof want to prevent their savings and pensions fro disappearing before their very eyes, and yes I’m sure that part of their motivation for shoring up the whole financial ediface is to protect those savings and pensions. But I, like Greenwald, thing that they might be even more worried about seeing a whole system collapse on top of them.


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