America has been hit by a massive tsunami that threatens to cripple our nation and our democracy. This nation is in a state of shock, fear and disbelief as it watches the financial meltdown rapidly taking place. This society, our government and our financial institutions are literally drowning in debt. We ask: "how could this possibly be happening to the greatest, most powerful nation in the world?" And the answer is simply this. Rampant greed has evolved to such an extent that it is overwhelming our national sense of honesty and ethics. So the tsunami that is washing over America is one that is of our own making.
Just today we have seen a temporary stoppage of the financial bleeding, but we must not be so naïve to think that the market has now bottomed out and that the good old days will soon return. Of course, the gain of more than 900 points in the DOW is very welcome to many, but it has been accomplished by the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars from the U.S. government and now from the nations of Europe – with promises of additional infusion in the very near future. However, this is a temporary, very expensive fix that many millions around the world will pay for in one way or another. There are huge problems with market fundamentals, lack of oversight, appropriate regulation and other means to curb the rampant greed and manipulations that got us into this mess to begin with. So we need to stay focused and demand that our leaders follow through on the proper safeguards and policing of financial institutions.
In the great movie, Wall St., Gordon Gekko, the ruthless corporate raider played by Michael Douglas, speaks to a stockholder group and tells them "Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed Works." He was stating a reality that the real Wall St. has long known, one that is embedded in its financial soul. But Wall St. is not the only guilty party in the crisis that now threatens our nation. Our elected Congress, the totally incompetent Bush administration and the Wall St. robber barons have now collectively brought America to its knees. And, yes, we Americans most definitely must share the guilt.
Americans are watching helplessly as their 401Ks and other investments take a terrible beating, almost on a daily basis. Many see their retirement nest eggs being sucked into the black hole of Wall St. greed and manipulation. The American investor has become the victim of a modern-day Ponzi scheme that is being run by Wall St., with the White House and the U.S. Congress helping to facilitate the whole process. Wikipedia says "today's schemes are often considerably more sophisticated than a Ponzi, although the underlying formula is quite similar; and the principle behind every Ponzi scheme is to exploit investor naïveté.” Wall St. seems to have mastered that principle brilliantly.
These disciples of the god of greed have now taken America and the entire world to the brink of financial disaster, to heights not seen since the collapse of 1929. This crisis has now become a massive struggle between the top 1% of Americans who now claim more income per year than the bottom 100 million Americans and the vast majority of Americans who are just trying to stay afloat, escape foreclosure of their homes, and avoid personal bankruptcy. There is no question as to which side is winning this struggle as the financial titans seem to hold all the cards and the American investor can't figure out how to play this frightening, one-sided game.
Is there no end to the lust for more and more money by the worshippers of greed in America? According to TNS Financial Services, “the number of U.S. millionaire households has risen to a record high of 9.3 million as of mid-2006. This is an increase of five percent from the prior year, and the fourth consecutive year that the population of millionaires has increased .” It is estimated that there are 450 billionaires in America. At the same time, there are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. There are 47 million Americans that have no medical insurance. At what point will Americans simply reject this immoral and unethical injustice, demand that "enough is enough" and vow to help make America change? Or will it never happen in this country that proudly refers to itself as "the wealthiest, most prosperous nation in the world"?
To further understand why greed is overwhelming honesty and ethics in America we need to simply observe what is going on in our nation every day; CEOs have now outsourced millions of jobs overseas, many failing in their jobs, yet pocketing massive golden parachutes. Our representatives in Congress continue to feed at the trough of corrupt dollars provided by special interests & lobbyists, with any number of them going to prison or being censured for unethical behavior; mortgage lenders are guilty of approving loans in the hundreds of billions of dollars to home buyers who should have been turned down; and many of those same home buyers, knowing that they did not qualify for a loan, entered into those contracts anyway, often for homes much larger than they needed. Many of these same buyers recklessly borrowed on the equity in their homes to acquire more and more material possessions that they did not need.
I could go on and on but I think you can understand that something is happening in America that is making the accumulation of wealth almost an obsession for far too many Americans. I am not talking about the many Americans who are not caught up in this moral quandary but who are just trying to get by day to day and not go under. Not those Americans who still hold to principles such as honesty, integrity and ethical behavior as cornerstones of their lives. But, there is this growing element in America that simply needs more and more and never seems to get enough. Yes, greed has been around mankind since the beginning of time but it appears that it has reached its zenith in America today.
America is going to have to undergo a transformation, actually a moral transfusion, to flush the greed and corruption out of our national psyche. However, at this point, our nation has no clue as to how to start this process as was clearly illustrated by the shameful, cowardly performance by our Congress in the recent deliberations that led to the highly suspect and clearly faulted bailout legislation. I cannot comprehend how this body of our elected representatives went through this process and few, if any, of the 100 Senators and 435 House members could even begin to recommend a much more thorough, effective plan to solve this crisis. They took the expedient route and simply tossed hundreds of billions of dollars into the hands of those who perpetuated the problem in the first place. They tried to label it a rescue plan for American but, in reality, it is clearly a bailout for the Wall St. manipulators and white-collar criminals.Will America continue to let the greed and corruption of Wall St. and this complicit U.S. Congress dominate our very existence or will we somehow find a leader who has the vision to lead us out of this moral and ethical morass? But, does such a leader even exist in these times? America stands at a very critical crossroads and we are rapidly running out of time.