Early Autumn 2008: The World as we know it is coming to an end. So fast that most Americans barely notice it's happening. Finance Ministers of the 7 most powerful nations in the Free World are doing their regular quarterly meeting in DC, but this time with an invitation to meet with GwB in the White House. They agree to sweeping changes never imagined before in the World Economy. About the same time, US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson issues 'invitations' to the CEOs of 9 of the largest banks in America, to show up at his office for a meeting. They're not told why, only that it will be explained when they got there.
They all fly in, and are ushered into The Big Conference Room at Treasury. Nine bankers sit on one side of a huge table. Paulson, FED Chair Ben Bernanke, and FDIC Chair Shelia Bair sit on the other side. Four hours were allowed for the meeting. They started at 3, ended at 4. Hank said he was doling out $250 Billion to them, proportionally to the size of their banks, for ownership shares in each of their banks. Basically, he tells them to take it, or leave with nothing. With hardly a whimper, the last bank CEO had his agreement signed and turned in to Hank by 5:30 pm. They left -- oh so sadly -- with $250,000,000,000 of your money in their pockets.
Growing up, I painted and drew a lot. My 10th grade Biology Project was a sketch book of the Animal Kingdom, from Protozoa to Mammals, painting them in full color.
For my Portrait of Hank, I'm drawing by typing words, rather than using a brush. Admittedly, I've never met Hank, nor until 3 weeks ago even knew that we shared the same Planet. And, in fairness, I'm looking at word pictures done by others (I read 40 stories), so his likeness may not be picture perfect. But it's close.
Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson Jr is a man who convinced Congress to give him $700,000,000,000 of our money. Almost none of us -- including our children and grandchildren who will be paying off his gift -- know much about Hank, who is 5th in line of succession for the Presidency. You each own a collection of Hank's signatures, printed on every piece of paper money issued by Treasury.
In 2003, Fortune magazine published Hank Paulson's Secret Life. This article says Hank planned to stay at Goldman $achs for a long while, adding "But whenever I do finish here, I have no doubt that I'll do something with the environment." Hank didn't tell us whether it would be a good something, or horrific.
What caught my attention was not his fascination for snakes. I am, too. What's important here is his lifelong need to capture Nature and make it his personal possession, as in his home zoo. I don't know about Illinois, but in many States, it's illegal to keep wild animals, like raccoons, as household pets, even if you name them Twinkie, Sam, Hershey and Rambo. As a kid, I collected bugs and garter snakes in jars, also.
Later I learned, taught to me by the NC Zoo and other wise folks, that putting wild animals in restricted cages for display is unhealthy for both the animals and the viewers. It's a very Victorian concept, capturing and displaying in cages to prove Dominion over the bounties of our Earth. Possession becomes what's important. Caging critters from our natural environment strips them of their free will, a cruelty which "sets mankind apart from the higher animals," as Mark Twain once put it.
Currently Hank also sits on the Board of Governors for the International Monetary Fund. The IMF and its counterpart, the World Bank, are the primary NeoCON agencies for forcing developing countries to privatize their Natural Resources, including drinking water. A bevy of US no-bid contractors stand ready to assist, and to profit mightily from this CON. It's a strategy which assures that native populations will be in hock for the rest of their lives, since they cannot profit from exploiting their own Natural Resources, a form of enslavement, if you will. Not surprisingly, these Nations are overrun with poverty, with people not even being able to afford the price of clean water. Think about what your money is being used for the next time you crack open a bottle of water.
But, then, we all know the cruelty that coveting someone else's Natural Resources, like their OIL, can lead to. Their OIL becomes our "national interest." American Imperialism is alive and well.
Back to Hank. Father a wholesale jeweler, he was raised as a Christian Scientist. A compulsive over-achiever all through his school years, it continued while at Dartmouth, and on to Harvard Business.
(I was married to a Christian Scientist once. I knew her mother in Raleigh before I met her 3 daughters. They had a younger brother who died at 5 in Idaho because his mother wouldn't call a doctor. Worth reading about Mary Baker Eddy's 19th century transcendental New England philosophy that led her to create one of a handful of Religions invented in America. Cathy often quoted these words of the Founder: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.")
Hank became an Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. Moved on to work in the Nixon White House as an Assistant to John Erhlichman. Remember how Erhlichman brought down Tricky Dick with Watergate? Hank Paulson was working there, one of the unindicted co-conspirators.
Hank joined Goldman $achs in 1974, becoming Partner in 1982, focusing on International Relations, and steadily climbing inside to become Chair and CEO in 1998. His compensation package for 2005 was estimated at $37 million, and he has a net worth of some $700,000,000. (That's million, not the $700 billion he's taking from us.)
He has intimate relations with Chinese elite, from his visits to China more than 70 times for Goldman $achs.
Given his background, it's hard to believe Hank could NOT understand how his 3-page BAILOUT Request demanded of Congress would affect the World Economy. But this was not his first manipulation of Wall $treet Banking as head of Treasury. There were others, all of which failed.
Spring 07, he said private financial institutions could allocate scarce Resources better than government intervention.
August 07: Hank explained that the US subprime mortgage Fallout was largely contained due to the strongest Global Economy in decades.
July 08: Hank said ours was a safe, sound banking system, that Regulators were on top of it, and it was a very manageable situation.
August 08: Hank said he had no plans to inject capital into mortgage lenders Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. A few weeks later, Fannie and Freedie collapsed.
His refusal to bail out iconic Lehman Brothers Investment Bank, started in 1850 in Alabama, is believed by many to have -- the very next day -- started the Wall $treet Meltdown and World financial crisis. The French Minister of Finance called his refusal "Horrendous!" Had Hank bailed out Lehman Brothers with authority he already had, we would not be in the historically gargantuan Global mess we find ourselves in today. Hank started this ball rolling. All by himself, which, of course, he denies. Narcissists do not appreciate being viewed by others as being anything less than perfect.
Is it any surprise that his 3-page BAILOUT Plan contained this in Section 8: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the aurthority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court or any administrative agency."
Imagine the absolute arrogance it takes to lay this 3-page Plan before the Congress of the United States, demanding $700,000,000,000 to give away with NO Congressional oversight, and telling them to "take it or leave it." And those fools took it, spinning our World even more out of control.
Paulson in all his actions, and especially in his hesitations, came from an innate fear of Wall $treet Banking becoming nationalized, even in part, by Government ownership of stock in them. He prefers that profits be forever privatized, and only debt be socialized. And yet, the quagmire Hank himself created has forced him to do exactly what he feared most: partially nationalize our largest commercial banks.
The question of relevance is this: Why was a Wall $treet Banker -- with no understanding whatsoever of how his actions might affect the lives of ordinary Americans -- tapped by GwB for Treasury Secretary? Paulson has never been an ordinary American from birth on. He has no comprehension of what it means to have to struggle to pay a bill, or to make ends meet. Hank is forever a Wall Street Banker. Is it any wonder that he will always think like a banker? His every attempt to shmooze our Economy has at it's core a desire to put bank interests ahead of the people's interests.
Here's my recommendation, and I mean it sincerely. Just inside the US House and Senate Chambers there needs to be a 3 foot stack of Bibles. Whenever entering either Chamber, each Senator and Representative must be required to place her/his hand on the stack, and swear an oath to the Almighty that they will never, ever again allow a Wall $treet Banker to become our Secretary of the Treasury.