The first is that things are actually much worse than anyone ever talks about. The pivot points of our financial system — the infrastructure that lets free markets produce real wealth — have become profoundly corrupted. Balance sheets are “fictions,” as Professor Frank Partnoy put it. Trillions of dollars in liability hide behind these fictions. And as expert after expert demonstrated, practically every one of the design flaws that led to the collapse of the past few years remains essentially unchanged within our financial system still. That bubble burst, but we can already see the soaring profits of the same firms that sucked billions in taxpayer funds. The cycle has started again.
You know all about the billion dollar bonuses, but have you forgotten about the billion dollar bailout?
But the second point was even worse. Expert after expert spoke as if the problems we faced were simple math errors. As if regulators had just miscalculated, like a pilot who accidentally overshoots the run way, or an engineer who mis-estimates the weight of cargo on a plane. And so, because these were mere errors, people spoke as if these errors could be corrected by a bunch of good ideas….
But we aren’t in our current double dip recession because of math errors, that’s blind. We are here because our governmental system is beholden to political interests and guess who has the most money to throw at Congress? The same unregulated corporations who put a gun to the global economy’s head, took obscene profits, got bailed out (remember that you’re not getting bailed out via credit card reform or mortgage reform or healthcare reform) paid themselves bonuses and are now experiencing a bump in their business (WHY? because they’ve again BET AGAINST AMERICA).
Lessig has a solution:
We need to admit our (democracy’s) problem. We need to get beyond this stage of denial. We need to recognize that until we release our leaders from a system that forces them to ignore good sense when there is an opportunity for large campaign cash, we won’t have policy that makes sense. Wall Street continues unchanged because the Congress that would change it is already shuttling to Wall Street fundraisers. Both parties are already pandering to this power, so they can find the fix to fund the next cycle of campaigns.
…privately funded public elections tend inevitably towards this kind of corruption. And until we solve that (eminently solvable) problem, we won’t make any progress in making America’s finances safe again. FixCongressFirst. Only then will sensible policy be possible.
With Billionaires running for office and committing $100 million of their own money IN CASH to their campaigns, with Wall Street and lobbyists funneling billions to keep the current governmental/corporate back-scratching going on and to ensure that NO REFORM HAPPENS, American workers will be bankrupted again and again. This Congress is incapable of the change we need, because they are so happy to jump on planes and go to vacation spots, on corporate dimes, while you and I think they are working for us.
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