September 24, 2008

Crisis Management

Did you read "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein? If you haven't gotten around to it, and I understand, I do, put it on your must-read list. Until then, here's my one paragraph summary of how the shock doctrine works:

Come up with an insane plan for national or world domination that no citizenry in their right mind would ever put up with. Wait for something bad to happen. ... Still waiting? Give things a little nudge when no one's looking, say, on a Friday afternoon before a holiday, or during sweeps week. ... Still waiting? Because I know a guy who ... Something bad happens. Propose your totally bughumping plan as the only reasonable option before the rightly angry citizenry can get together a pitchfork-bearing mob. Up the stakes with a plan so crazy that you're verging on gnu buggery, if possible. Implement plan. Ban pitchforks.

The Wall Street banks, who've spent years impoverishing their own customers got their weaselly scrods in a bit of a pinch and are now at risk of losing their pre-eminence to Dubai. It's a crisis because the important people are in trouble and, unlike impoverished single parents living in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores and jobs, they're willing to brook no accountability in being helped. Or they're going to drag the rest of us down with them and kill this dog.

Do you have any idea, btw, how much initial paperwork, and then ongoing weekly paperwork, you have to submit to get a lousy few hundred bucks in welfare payments? Let's just say it adds up. Also, you have to get fingerprinted.

But I digress. And will again, just as I will surely continue the practice of starting sentences with conjunctions. I'll try not to mix too many metaphors, but if I do, you can't stop me. Neener.

Now, while the situation may seem grim, re: the entire nation getting blackmailed for 700,000,000,000 bucks, just remember that we still have Social Security. And the reason we still have it is because when all of the Beltway media and conservative elite stomped their feet and said that we had to privatize, pardon, add private accounts to, Social Security, now!, the public glared them down before they could get to the 'giving things a nudge' part of their long quest to destroy our national pension.

It's a good thing, too. Otherwise now would be time to put some of the nation's Grannies on an all-cat food diet. I'm not even talking Fancy Feast(TM), here. Dry food all the way, Meow Mix(TM) time, Grandma. Oh, you can still find all the usual excuses for that now-shelved idea from the usual helping hands, like Ruth Marcus. They're campaigning for the long haul, it'll be back:

... This is simply false -- even leaving aside the incendiary language about "privatizing" Social Security. As the invaluable noted, the private account plan suggested by President Bush and backed by McCain would not have applied to anyone born before 1950. It would not have changed benefits by a single penny for current retirees like the nice Florida folks that Obama was trying to rile up. ...

But as Ken from DownWithTyranny explained over email, posted with permission:

Sorry, Ruth, but "privatization" is a perfectly good shorthand description of what the GOP Social Security-killers have been trying to accomplish as their more achievable first step (the only reason they stopped using the term is that they discovered it scares a lot of people), and to the extent that they would have succeeded, the results would have been as devastating as Obama described. All those yuppie dollars diverted into "private" accounts would have gone down the toilet, and we still would have had to find money to pay current SS obligations, because, as the SS "reformers" always neglect to mention, it's current dollars PAID INTO the system that pay for benefits paid out, so every dollar diverted from the system has to be replaced from other sources.

Anyway, they were stopped. It can be done and thank goodness it was.

If people hadn't told trifecta-having Republican lawmakers that they were going to keep their grubby little fists (and gods only know where those fists have been) off Social Security or else, then these bankers would even now be hiding behind cute grandmothers. They'd be all up in our grills saying, 'Dude! We need $700,000,000,000 $1,800,000,000,000 so we can save your grandmother from having to eat her cat, Dolly! Dolly isn't big, Grandma will starve! Don't you love your grandmother!? Give us the money, like, now!!!'

If you've been following along, you may have realized that $1,800,000,000,000 would make for about 54,450 tons worth of unmarked, $100 bills.

But now, they've been caught out asking for help with, basically, a new Lamborghini payment. After they crashed our car. While drunk. With not even a sad-eyed old lady mask laying around to wear into traffic court. They're crazy people, asking for crazy things, betting that no one will call their bluff. And it would verge on funny, if it weren't about our financial future for decades to come.

If you think it's crazy, too, when you call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, tell your Senators and Congresscritter that they'd better not even think about screwing over taxpayers, future generations, and people who know how many homes they have for the sake of Wall Street's lunatic scam artists and their good buddies, like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis.

Just, hell no. Not unless they want to have an electoral crisis of their very own. Because it just isn't that hard to come up with the right answer to a nonsense request by greedy incompetents for $700,000,000,000 $1,800,000,000,000.

X-posted from MyDD

Posted by natasha at September 24, 2008 12:44 AM | Economy | Technorati links |

I didn't see the byline before I read the line about gnu buggery, but I knew it had to be you writing this. Glad you're back.

Posted by: Cujo359 at September 24, 2008 01:47 AM

Great post, Natasha. Prescient really. I wanted to blog this today. And then I heard Naomi Klein (whose genius I already knew of from the book "No Logo) on the radio with Stephanie Miller this morning. Damn smart and really entertaining too. What I enjoy most about Klein is her urging us to retain our anger in the face of fear that if we don't give in to the wildass shock-work (like a proposed $700B socialization of private, unretreivable debt), something really bad might happen behind the current crisis.

Good on you for getting there first!


Posted by: tres_arboles at September 24, 2008 08:49 AM

(Dang... the comments don't allow the "strike" HTML. I had to put the struck-out bits in square brackets below.)

The best bit of yesterday's Senate hearings was the exchange between Senator Schumer and Secretary Paulson:

Schumer wondered if "only" $150 billion (sorry; too many zeroes hurt my brain) would be enough to give Dolly a few more months at a higher point in the food chain, and then we could revisit the question around, oh, say, 1/20/09, just to pick a date at random.

Paulson said no, it wouldn't, because this is really about [greed] market confidence, and anything short of [an obscene shitload] the full amount would not instill the required confidence. So we have to act [while Bush is still in office] quickly, to avoid [cutting him out of the windfall] a meltdown.

Don't'cha know.

Posted by: Barry Leiba at September 24, 2008 09:05 AM

The book is old news, but a must read for every one.
1.8T is much closer to the real number and then even that won't be enough once we feed them. Amerika will be come a 4th world nation and if the world cuts of the $ well maybe it's closer than we think.

Hopefully not coming to the nieghborhood soon.
Everything is on schedule, please move along.

Posted by: jo6pac at September 24, 2008 07:53 PM

Paulson must be really desperate to help his CEO pals at Goldman Sachs, as well as at other Wall Street firms, for him to lie the way he did at the congressional hearing, playing dumb about Section 8, repeatedly claiming he's for oversight even though Section 8 denies any oversight.

(NOTE: In bygone U.S. Army terminology, Section 8 referred to someone being discharged from service for being mentally unfit or for displaying character traits deemed undesirable. Wow, what a coincidence!!).

I trace this entire Republican-created Wall Street scandal to Bush's "ownership society" scheme.

I bet that there is a study somewhere indicating that "owners of property" tend to be more conservative and therefore tend to vote more often for Republicans instead of Democrats.

Some Republican strategist (Karl Rove?) hit upon the idea that increasing home ownership would swell the ranks of Republican-leaning voters.

This is why federal and Wall Street regulations were relaxed, making it possible for a whole lot of credit-overextended, collateral-challenged potential home owners to realize the American dream of owning a home...but with many of these people now foreclosed on or facing foreclosure.

At least that's my theory.

Now, although I know it's too late and won't help, I'm going to paint some lipstick on my piggy bank.

Posted by: The Oracle at September 25, 2008 12:07 AM