Let Them Eat Bread

Posted on September 25, 2008. Filed under: Original articles, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Events of the last few days have thrown into high relief the background research I’d been doing. Here’s a breakdown of key points:

Rally Sept 25 in Hollywood against bailout

Let them eat bread: Rally Sept 25 in Hollywood against bailout

Present moment #1: Financial instruments that were too complicated for anyone to predict (even the mathematicians who developed them) have crashed the system. 

Since thinking about “financial instruments” is about as enjoyable as reading a bad horror script, let’s not talk money for a minute, let’s talk cars. We all understand cars. 

So look at it this way, what happened was the fancy auto-maneuvering car that some super wealthy people were driving recklessly around the world crashed into the wall. That’s what happened. People are not dead. Important fact here … no dead people. 

Thing is, their expensive vehicle was not insured. These super wealthy signed a paper saying that if they crashed their car, they could afford to lose it. That’s the only reason they were allowed behind the wheel in the first place. 

Now their egos are all bent out of shape and they’re asking for their insurance money — you know, the insurance that didn’t exist. They’re trying to talk us into being their insurance company and giving them money to bail out their expensive crashed vehicle. 

Well, if I were Congress, I’d say, no, you don’t get the $700 billion you spent on the car — hope you enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

In fact, we could pay for a few million heart operations around the country with that money instead. And since you have not demonstrated that you have a heart, here’s a Honda Fit. Welcome to the rest of the world. 

Video of rally in Hollywood from KTLA / LA Times

Video and related story of rally in Hollywood (KTLA / LA Times)

 

Present moment #2: The money lost was lost by gambling it away

What do I mean, by that? Okay, this time, I am going to talk money, but instead of talking banks, I’m going to talk casinos.

The end is near. At the rally against the bailout Sept 25 in Hollywood

The end is near. At the rally against the bailout Sept 25 in Hollywood

The fancy car I talked about in the previous metaphor was being used to make money  — it was what got you into the high-stakes poker room, so to speak. The super-wealthy were using machines — unregulated machines, no less — and complex math to place thousands of million-dollar bets a second on whether, say, a certain currency market was going to go up, or going to go down. Or, with macabre perversity, whether people would foreclose on their homes, or stay in them. It was a bunch of bets. 

It was a pointless game as far as the economy goes — it didn’t aim to support promising businesses, build infrastructure, cure disease. Most of the trades lasted only a few seconds. It was as pointless as betting whether the roulette ball was going to land red or black. It was countless bets on mere fluctuation, on volitility. But it made money, scads and scads of money, for the gamblers. 

 

Present moment #3: “Contributions” to political friends got happy tax rates for the gamblers.

Because of well placed “contributions” to the high-stakes gamblers’ favorite political friends, these winnings from the gambling mentioned above were taxed not as “winnings” as in a lottery, not as income as you and I pay, but as capital gains at a much lower rate than income tax

There was nothing remotely capital-building about these “capital gains”.

Can you spare $700 billion? Rally in Hollywood Sept 25 at Highland & Melrose

Can you spare me $700 billion? Rally in Hollywood Sept 25 at Highland & Melrose

 

Present moment #4: The winnings were paid out in billion dollar salaries and million dollar bonuses.

This is the real kicker. The money isn’t in the coffer to cover the high-rollers’ bad bets because it’s all been paid out in million and even billion-dollar — yes that’s right, billion dollar — salaries, commissions and bonuses. 

As you know, you and I and the rest of Main Street didn’t get into that high-stakes poker room. We didn’t share any of their billions in salaries, bonuses and commissions, but now we’re being asked — strike that, commanded — to cover their losses. 

As Dennis Kucinich said, “The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses.”

Tell me, do you think you’d get your money back if you went to a casino and lost your house because you’d refinanced your mortgage on a whim to buy a jet?

This is what is. 

And these ego-filled folks are using fears of financial meltdown to terrorize us into saying yes. 

If there’s anyone who deserves a bailout, it’s the people using a credit card just to eat. It’s the people fishing bottles out of the recycling bins to add to their income. It’s the people working three jobs simply to put a roof over their heads and gas in their car to get to work — those are the ones whose lives would dramatically de-stress with a piece of that $700 billion.

Give the money to the regular people all around the country actually producing goods and services — actually building things — not the trust fund playboys and the uber rich hedge fund managers getting richer from a high-stakes poker game and calling it “capital.”

Bail out everyone else first — they’re the ones being asked to pay this bill. 

If these banksters have to take public transportation the rest of their natural lives it will do them the world of good.

Rally against the bailout in Hollywood Sept 25 at Highland & Melrose

Rally against the bailout in Hollywood Sept 25 at Highland & Melrose

To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, let them eat bread.

 

Update: A groundswell of people across the country tapped into the deep sense of unfairness and frustration, and collected in spontaneous protests around the country today (Sept 25) — I organized one here in Hollywood through the advocacy group TrueMajority.org. This rally (pictured) was featured heavily on local TV news stations KCAL-9, KTLA, ABC7. Radio station KFWB was also covering the rally with interviews. 

Rally against the bailout in Hollywood Sept 25 corner of Highland & Melrose

Rally against the bailout in Hollywood Sept 25 corner of Highland & Melrose

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