M.Collins: The Money Party (5)
"Us versus Them"
We have been warned again and again that seeing the world as an "us versus them" proposition is a fatal error. It's polarizing. It leads to "class warfare." It absolves "us" of the collective responsibility we all have in a democracy. Can't have it, not allowed.
Well, here's some news for "them". It is precisely an "us versus them" world. We live in a nation where tremendous wealth calls the shots without respect or regard for the public will, fails miserably again and again, and then hides behind "collective responsibility." We're supposed to believe that somehow "we all allowed this to happen."
This point is critical: If "we" all allowed it to happen then "they" aren't responsible, ever. They have the ultimate "Get out of jail free" card. Kill, maim, steal, lie, cheat, etc. etc. and all they have to do is say everyone was in on it; therefore, they are not responsible. Starting a war based on lies that breaks the bank of the federal budget while the richest 1% get tax cuts is just one example of the fraud perpetrated by our "public servants." Did you have anything to do with that?
Now the "D" word is being used - we're on the verge of a major depression or, at least, a calamitous recession, take your pick. How did this happen? See if you can identify your role. How will they blame us in order to survive and do it all over again?
In 2001 the loser won. We had a president selected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The prevailing justices stopped a state recount, defying their long-held bias in favor of states' rights, a position they'd held before and returned to following their presidential intervention.
Then the looting began with a stunningly consistent display of greed and avarice bringing us to these perilous times.
Right out of the gate, the top 1% of citizens, those with incomes averaging over $1 million a year, got income tax breaks worth $250 billion through the Bush tax cuts started in 2001. By 2010, 50% of the tax breaks, $120 billion, will go to just 1.4 million citizens. The tax cuts continued in various forms for the fortunate 1%. Is that shared sacrifice by those who benefit the most financially? Did you have anything to do with these decisions? (Annotated links)
Banks can write mortgages that are so risky they're referred to as "sub prime" and Wall Street can bundle them up and sell the lot of them as premium investments. Home buyers are suckered at the front end and holders of retirement funds (401K, etc.) get to subsidize the flawed scheme at the other end. Top economists warned against these huge risks to citizens and the nation, but were ignored. Did you have anything to do with these decisions?
"Derivatives" are a risk filled stock market product allowing investors to "bet" on the future value of a commodities, interest and exchange rates. The face value of over the counter derivatives went from $100 trillion in 2002 to $516 Trillion in 2007. As a point of comparison, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States was $14 trillion in 2007. Investment genius Warren Buffett characterized their risk when he called derivatives a "financial weapons of mass destruction." Despite an early warning of real risk in 1995, by Buffett in 2002, and others like bond expert Bill Gross, nothing was done to regulate their sales which are widely held by retirement funds.
The subprime crisis is destroying your home value. Will derivatives and other risky stock market schemes wipe out your retirement? Did you have anything to do with these decisions?
The cost of the Iraq war is considered "off budget." This means that the $500 billion spent so far and the $2.4 trillion estimated total cost of the war don't show up in the annual budget approved by Congress. The war profiteers get hidden government subsidies without having to bid for major contracts, all at our expense and that of our children. This kind of behavior by any private business would be called fraud. Did you have anything to do with these decisions?
The Bush administration claimed it would rescue New Orleans from the destruction of hurricane Katrina and pledged billions to the effort. The contracts for this effort were handed out without competitive bidding. Guess who got them - the "made men" of The Money Party, many of whom got no-bid deals in Iraq for that "rebuilding." The city has a whole slew of luxury properties but continues to destroy good low cost housing. The 200,000 evacuated in 2005 are now largely gone. Did you know that? Did you have anything to do with those decisions?
Iraq war veterans are committing suicide at a rate of 120 per week. Sixty thousand have post traumatic stress disorder, and tens of thousands have permanent disabilities. More than one million Iraqi civilians are dead as a result of violence and civil strife predicted by experts in our government and elsewhere to follow the U.S. invasion. There are now five million orphans in Iraq. Our country's reputation in the rest of the world is at its worst ever. The war was based on lies. Did you have anything to do with these decisions? (Also, see these links.)