Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How the Chicago Showdown Failed

As was expected, the Chicago Showdown, the massive protest against the efforts of the financial industry to lobby against reform of the financial system, drew many thousands of protesters from across the country to engage in three days of protests against the government support of the greed and larceny of the banking industry.

It was a pretty good protest, as they go, what with the requisite marches and chanting and prayer vigils and some really great costumes, though somehow it failed to evoke enough guilt among the attendees to ruin their enjoyment of a Roaring-20s-themed party, the irony of which was not lost on anyone but the party-goers themselves. Obviously, no one at the American Bankers Association convention gave much consideration to that first great American debt debacle that ended with a decade-long depression, or at least not enough to see any parallels between the multiple speculative bubbles of the 1920s, in land and financial instruments alike, that parallel the vastly more intricate, layered, and global scams of the 2000s.

But the message of the protest was lost, for it was too obvious that many of the protesters suffered from the same disease as the financial fraudsters, which was the idea that somehow the universe owes them "gimmes" and guarantees against losses and respite from the consequences of bad judgment, thoughtless risk-taking, and yes, greed. But the protesters seemed oblivious to the parallels between the greed and deliberate insanity of the financial maniacs who raked in the obscene profits from the ten-year rampage, and their own greed, gullibility, and willful blindness.

The bulk of the protesters were demanding, not an end to the entire structure of socialistic housing "affordability" programs and alphabet soup of federal agencies and GSAs that enabled the greed stampede, but only that they, too, be "rescued" from the consequences of their greed, delusional thinking, and bad judgement, as Senator Durbin and the protesters demanded that the $23 Billion in bonuses being given out to Goldman Sacks executives instead be donated to help people stay in homes in foreclosure. Nobody suggested that those bonuses instead be remitted back to the treasury and to the taxpayers at large, who paid them.

Granted, many people there were genuine victims- people who lived and operated honestly and borrowed prudently within their means, only to be done out of jobs and then homes by the vicious reversal of the fake good times produced by the spate of debt-driven "growth". However, for every person who is losing his home to business reversals or job losses, there are four or five who are in foreclosure because they bought much more house than they ever had reason to think they could afford with loans that they knew, or should have known, were suspect, or who withdrew all the equity in their houses to buy cars and boob jobs and other extravagances,and are no more deserving of gifts from the public till than the financial managers attending the convention were to their bailouts and mega-bonuses.

As in most con games, most of the victims here were absolutely complicit in their destruction, and are not entitled to be "rescued" from foreclosure and loss of homes they never honestly owned to begin with. But most of all, we have all, from the low-income buyers borrowing to buy middle-bracket homes on subprime pay-option loans clear up to the Goldman Sachs bonus babies who are enabled by our government in skimming the taxpayers for decades to come to pay this year's bonus, contributed to the mentality that produced the casino economy of the past 20 years, a mentality made up in equal parts of greed, magical thinking, and a boundless sense of entitlement to unearned rewards.


consultant said...

Depends on how you measure success.

How many tweets about the event were sent? How many people were on Facebook talking about the event?

How many people were thinking about the protestors in Chicago?

I think on the fake participation meter, it was a huge success.

On the hypocrisy, get something for nothing meter-a huge failure.

The North Coast said...

You have that just right.