So the game of attrition and denial continues. In the wings is a proposal from Republican budget maven, Congressman Paul Ryan to cut TRILLIONS in federal spending for various forms of health care. Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls it senseless and cruel.
The myth is that these cutbacks will create new jobs. There is little evidence of that. Many of those hardest hit by joblessness get little attention including minorities and the young. Reports economist Max Wolff, "People under 35 years old are not getting the new jobs we create. Employment, home ownership, and wage increases are bypassing younger Americans. As state and local budgets are cut, education and services for the young are contracting especially sharply.
While this high stakes political battle catches the headlines, the sclerosis in the private economy is downplayed with deceptive gains on the job front.
As for housing, the retirement dreams are being destroyed by the fall in housing value reports Bloomberg news --"Even if the housing market starts to improve throughout the country in the next few months, and actually begins an upward trend, the damage done to middle class homeownership cant be estimated even by using the most sophisticated algorithms. As a result of changing business models, many Americans looked to the equity in their home as their 401K plans and the foundation for retirement. For many homeowners, equity equaled net worth. With that equity evaporating, and an inability to sell a home even at drastically reduced prices, lives have been so dramatically impacted financially, that a housing recovery, if and when it happens, may not really matter."
At the same time, the investigations and prosecutions of financial fraudsters move at a glacial pace. Perhaps if prosecutors moved more aggressively, they would take down whole industries built on fraud. What seems clear that this pushing for the highest returns had little interest in ethics or legalities. These are the people and industries that benefit from the Republican fervor for the "free market."
In his most recent interview with the Financial Times, "Ponzi King Bernie Madoff confirmed that while he was responsible, many of his crimes were a response to demands from his biggest clients who wanted more money, no matter how he earned it.
The push for breaking the rules was from above--as it often is.
Says Gillian Tett, "In the flesh, Madoff spins a credible tale of how a renegade entrepreneur conquered Wall Street and was drawn into crime by personalities and forces he could not control. It sounds almost convincing."
"One of the reasons he called us in," Tett observed, "was because ... he was very keen to explain his side of the story. And he says, as so often with big frauds, that he started off small-scale, essentially trying to cover his tracks in a very small way. He thought he would be able to get himself back on track later on once the markets turned. However, the whole thing began to engulf him. And essentially, it snowballed""
That snowball is still rolling. The Republicans and the Democrats run from this crime issue even as their budget, justified in pragmatic terms, will be seen as a crime by the public once their checks stop and benefits stop coming.
News Dissector Danny Schechter directed Plunderthecrimefourtime.com, (plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) and wrote a companion book on the financial crisis as a crime story. Comments to Email address removed