13 June 2014

Anat Admati: Seeing Through the Bankers' New Clothes - The Bullet or the Bribe

"Looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity...few people have yet considered the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of cold war with its neighbors."

George Orwell

The reign of the Banks was reintroduced on the back of, and is sustained by, a major campaign of corruption of the political processes and the public discourse. The decisive moment was the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the further withdrawal of the watchers on the wall by both political parties who have gone along to get along.

The difference in the analogy offered in this talk is that the monied interests are not some semi-benign doddering old emperor who has fallen victim to the flattery of courtiers and the schemes of conmen.  They are a monstrous construction of reckless pride and greed who will work their schemes until the exhaustion and collapse of their prey.

One is foolish to expect them to be ruled by self-control and appeals to reason, given the nature of their pathology.  These are the very types that cause people to organize themselves for their protection.  This is the highest responsibility of government: the promotion of justice, and the defense of all people, including the foolish and the weak, for the common good against thieves, conmen, bandit, foreign armies, and domestic predators.
"There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."

Andrew Jackson, Veto of the Second Bank of the United States
The Banks and their associated Corporations continue to extract usurious fees, misprice risk, rig markets, and engage in a variety of soft bribery and extortion.  And it will not end well.  I would like to be more optimistic, but it is discouraging to see how easily the financially powerful have co-opted some sincere reform movements into their willing tools, spouting utopian nonsense.  The shepherds have been struck down, by the bullet and the bribe, and the sheep have been scattered.

The Anglo-American financial system is an accident waiting to happen.  And you can be sure that they are expecting, once again, to dip their beaks deeply into the public pockets when they do. 

h/t Bill Moyers

We are surely not the first generation to face this sort of trial, since it is in the very nature of this fallen world, and the burden of every generation to rise to their particular trials and temptations. If anything we may be notable for our weakness, our lack of faithfulness, our foolish pride, a perverted perspective unworthy of our many gifts, and the stubborn hardness of our hearts too often in the name of our just and loving Lord.

"...He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

J. H. Newman