I urge everybody to watch the Frontline documentaries on the financial crisis of 2008 -
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/ – watch the two part series entitled “Money, Power and Wall Street”.
In an outstanding feat of public service, my local PBS station (KETC, channel 9) didn’t just run this 2 part, 4 hour series, it also re-ran a special it had done nearly 20 years ago about the crash on Wall Street in 1929, for a total of 5 hours of programming. The parallels between what happened then and what just happened yet again are chilling. Remember that old rock song about not getting fooled again? We just got fooled again.
I need to be protected from Wall Street. So do convents, small towns in Italy, and Jefferson County in Alabama. Jefferson County borrowed huge sums of money because they were told they would save $300 – $400 million dollars in finance charges. Or is that really why Jefferson County did business w/Goldman Sachs? It might have been related to some large payments paid by an employee of the investment firm. At least 3 people have spent time in jail over that deal, but the company made millions. The Jefferson County government officials promised that they wouldn’t have to raise rates for the sewer service – but now there’s no sewer system and the bills have tripled. Jefferson County Alabama turned into the largest municipal bankruptcy in us history, and the ramifications are still being felt there by the mostly poor populace. In addition, more than 100 schools and other municipalities in the U. S. were sold risky investments that maybe nobody understood. I think the documentary asserted that this rampage of Wall Street corruption cost the American people 20 billion dollars.
This spree of rapaciousness* went on for years, and was not confined to the U.S. European people were bilked, too - in part because the Wall Streeters knew they were operating beyond the reach of U. S. regulators while they were doing business in Europe. The game was finding legal ways to get around the law. Contributing to this financial storm were the efforts of European countries to make themselves look better on paper so they could be part of the Euro zone. Christine Lagarde, currently head of the IMF, says that all european agencies were cooking their books. Pressure was high to look good statistically , on paper, in order to be included in the European zone and the thieving Wall Streeters found a way to make money off of helping Greece to make it look like they were cleaning up their books much better than they were. Italy says that derivatives had no impact on their acceptance into the EU, but since derivatives are not public information that can’t be verified. These are just a couple of examples laid out in Money, Power and Wall Street.
In the U. S, there are 12 federal agencies supposed to protect the public, but they are up against the bank lobby, which spends $320 million a year lobbying regulators – not an even fight by a long shot. They take our money and use it to beat back government regulators. The rapacious class is alive and well, and living on Wall Street. Supposedly, reform is “definitely achievable” but there is a lack of political will.
I will now stop trying to include in one blog post all the information contained in this documentary. Please watch this documentary so you can understand what just happened to us. We need to grow the political will to protect ourselves from the rapacious class.
Thank you Frontline, and all the people who made that documentary possible.
P.S. I thought it was odd that Brooksley Born wasn’t interviewed or even mentioned. And Elizabeth Warren wasn’t interviewed or even mentioned.
*ra·pa·cious -1. given to seizing for plunder or the satisfaction of greed. 2. inordinately greedy; predatory; extortionate: a rapacious disposition.