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Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

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  • Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

    Some people think that the government is controlled by this or that entity, depending on the situation. But that's not really true. The government is more akin to a penitentiary in the way it functions. As OWS protesters have found out, it's not Wall Street that is pepper spraying them, teargassing them, and throwing them in jail. That would be the government. Hopefully in jail they might get an idea of how things work in the real world.

    In prison, prison guards hold ultimate authority. One can bribe prison guards, but that does not give you control over them. At any moment if they don't like the terms of the deal you have with them, they can break it and beat you down. The government acts this way all the time. Wall Street, being the big men in the prison(among others), has influence with the government. But they don't control it. They just have a mutually beneficial relationship. If the government decides they don't like it anymore, Wall Street can be cracked down upon at will. If Wall Street decides they don't want to pay up anymore, their protection will be gone and the government will just find another industry that wants their favor. But let's be clear about who has the monopoly of force: the government does.

    This is not to suggest that the US is run like a prison. We're not a police state. Nor am I really suggesting that I really know how prisons are run, not having been in prison. I just thought it would be a helpful analogy since everyone's seen prison TV shows or movies. It's made abundantly clear at all times that even the most powerful prisoner only has the authority that the lowliest prison guard allows him. And it can be taken away at any time. Likewise, the most powerful entities in the private sector are nothing compared to the lowliest government entities. Even lowly government bureaucrats can hold life and death power over people and even industries. THEY are the power, and they know it even if OWS does not. But it's useful for them to make OWS think that, because if Wall Street fears OWS, they'll pay more protection money.

  • #2
    Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

    Originally posted by adaher View Post
    Some people think that the government is controlled by this or that entity, depending on the situation. But that's not really true. The government is more akin to a penitentiary in the way it functions. As OWS protesters have found out, it's not Wall Street that is pepper spraying them, teargassing them, and throwing them in jail. That would be the government. Hopefully in jail they might get an idea of how things work in the real world.

    In prison, prison guards hold ultimate authority. One can bribe prison guards, but that does not give you control over them. At any moment if they don't like the terms of the deal you have with them, they can break it and beat you down. The government acts this way all the time. Wall Street, being the big men in the prison(among others), has influence with the government. But they don't control it. They just have a mutually beneficial relationship. If the government decides they don't like it anymore, Wall Street can be cracked down upon at will. If Wall Street decides they don't want to pay up anymore, their protection will be gone and the government will just find another industry that wants their favor. But let's be clear about who has the monopoly of force: the government does.

    This is not to suggest that the US is run like a prison. We're not a police state. Nor am I really suggesting that I really know how prisons are run, not having been in prison. I just thought it would be a helpful analogy since everyone's seen prison TV shows or movies. It's made abundantly clear at all times that even the most powerful prisoner only has the authority that the lowliest prison guard allows him. And it can be taken away at any time. Likewise, the most powerful entities in the private sector are nothing compared to the lowliest government entities. Even lowly government bureaucrats can hold life and death power over people and even industries. THEY are the power, and they know it even if OWS does not. But it's useful for them to make OWS think that, because if Wall Street fears OWS, they'll pay more protection money.
    Interesting perspective...

    The only way to 'fight' this is to limit the power of the guards to do favors to get bribed. To keep the analogy going:

    The only way to avoid bribing the guards (government) for better food (money tax code changes), is to take away control of the food from the guards.

    A point I've been making for months, only in a better, easy to understand format?

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    • #3
      Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

      Interests that are involved in Wall Street do have incredible amounts of influence that, IMO, amount to control.

      מה מכילות החדשות?


      • #4
        Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

        A case can be made for that, but the only real power lies with the politicians. They have 100%, Wall Street has 0%. Secondly, the politicians like getting Wall Street's money, but if Wall Street won't pay for protection and favors, someone else will(and does).

        The reason this is important is because getting Wall Street out of policymaking, even if it were possible, only leaves a vaccuum to be filled by someone else even less savory. The only way to fight corporate influence in government is to take away the incentives. Or, the public needs to keep a very close eye on their politicians, and vote them out when they are beholden to interests they don't agree with.

        As I've said before, there is no shortcut to good government that can get around the need for an attentive populace. OWS is yet another movement intent on trying to take shortcuts.

        מה מכילות החדשות?


        • #5
          Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

          Originally posted by adaher View Post
          A case can be made for that, but the only real power lies with the politicians. They have 100%, Wall Street has 0%. Secondly, the politicians like getting Wall Street's money, but if Wall Street won't pay for protection and favors, someone else will(and does).

          The reason this is important is because getting Wall Street out of policymaking, even if it were possible, only leaves a vaccuum to be filled by someone else even less savory. The only way to fight corporate influence in government is to take away the incentives. Or, the public needs to keep a very close eye on their politicians, and vote them out when they are beholden to interests they don't agree with.

          As I've said before, there is no shortcut to good government that can get around the need for an attentive populace. OWS is yet another movement intent on trying to take shortcuts.
          The power lies with the people with the money. In a lot of cases, the politicians ARE Wall Street people so you have a real conflict there. Money and wealthy individuals have an overwhelming presence in our government and they act in their best interests, not yours.

          OWS I feel like is a manifestation of people who really dont know what the answer is but they want to effect some kind of change. This is not always the best policy, the teabaggers have shown us that, and I dont think anything positive will come directly out of OWS unless it REALLY starts snowballing. But it is indicative that there are people, a lot more people than even I would have thought existed, who dont like the way things are going and want to change it.

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          • #6
            Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

            One problem with this analogy is that prisoners don't get to elect their prison guards. Of course, one could argue that we don't exactly get to vote for our representatives of choice either...

            Wall Street (the well-connected prisoners) pretty much get to ass-rape all the other prisoners, so the analogy works in that respect. :P

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            • #7
              Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

              Even if convicts could elect prison guards, the guards would still have complete control. No, it's not a perfect analogy, but OWS needs to be reminded of who holds the actual power in this country. As if getting beaten and pepper sprayed wasn't enough to remind them. But these folks are dense, so I guess the beatings will have to continue until they realize it's not Wall Street that's beating them.

              מה מכילות החדשות?


              • #8
                Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                The problem with Wall Street influence is that the ignorant politicians are duped into doing the damage and by the time they realize what they did, it is too late....

                The Bet That Blew Up Wall Street - CBS News

                Anyone with more than a casual interest in why their 401(k) has tanked over the past year knows that it's because of the global credit crisis. It was triggered by the collapse of the housing market in the United States and magnified worldwide by the sale of complicated investments that Warren Buffett once labeled financial weapons of mass destruction.

                They are called credit derivatives or credit default swaps.

                As correspondent Steve Kroft first reported last fall, they are essentially side bets on the performance of the U.S. mortgage markets and some of the biggest financial institutions in the world - a form of legalized gambling that allows you to wager on financial outcomes without ever having to actually buy the stocks and bonds and mortgages.

                It would have been illegal during most of the 20th century under the gaming laws, but in 2000, Congress gave Wall Street an exemption and it has turned out to be a very bad idea......

                And that was the bet that blew up Wall Street. The TNT was the collapse of the housing market and the failure of complicated mortgage securities that the big investment houses created and sold around the world.

                But the rocket fuel was the trillions of dollars in side bets on those mortgage securities, called "credit default swaps." They were essentially private insurance contracts that paid off if the investment went bad, but you didn't have to actually own the investment to collect on the insurance.....

                The vehicle for doing this was an obscure but critical piece of federal legislation called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. And the bill was a big favorite of the financial industry it would eventually help destroy.

                It not only removed derivatives and credit default swaps from the purview of federal oversight, on page 262 of the legislation, Congress pre-empted the states from enforcing existing gambling and bucket shop laws against Wall Street....

                In retrospect, giving Wall Street immunity from state gambling laws and legalizing activity that had been banned for most of the 20th century should have given lawmakers pause, but on the last day and the last vote of the lame duck 106th Congress, Wall Street got what it wanted when the Senate passed the bill unanimously....

                Congress seemed shocked and outraged by the consequences of its decision eight years ago to effectively deregulate swaps and derivatives. Various members of the House and Senate have hauled in the usual suspects to accept or share the blame.

                "Were you wrong?" Rep. Henry Waxman asked former Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan.

                "Credit default swaps, I think, have some serious problems with them," Greenspan replied.

                It appears to be the first step in a long process of restoring at least some of the regulations and safeguards that might have prevented, or at least mitigated this disaster after the damage has already been done.



                HOUSE VOTE

                H.R. 4541, Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (106th Congress)
                Oct. 19, 2000, Vote #540
                PASSED 377 - 4 (51 not present)

                Democrats.....181 Yea.....2 Nay
                Republicans.....193 Yea.....2 Nay

                Steve

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                • #9
                  Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                  Bail out the gamblers was Bernanke's scream.

                  Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                  The CFMA, as enacted by President Clinton, went beyond the recommendations of a Presidential Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) Report titled “Over-the Counter Derivatives and the Commodity Exchange Act.” (the “PWG Report[7] ”).

                  President's Working Group on Financial Markets, November 1999:

                  Lawrence Summers, Treasury
                  Alan Greenspan, Fed
                  Arthur Levitt, SEC
                  William J Rainer, CFTC

                  Although hailed by the PWG on the day of congressional passage as “important legislation” to allow “the United States to maintain its competitive position in the over-the-counter derivative markets”, by 2001 the collapse of Enron brought public attention to the CFMA’s treatment of energy derivatives in the “Enron Loophole.” Following the Federal Reserve’s emergency loans to “rescue” American International Group (AIG) in September, 2008, the CFMA has received even more widespread criticism for its treatment of credit default swaps and other OTC derivatives.[8]

                  In 2008 the “Close the Enron Loophole Act” was enacted into law to regulate more extensively “energy trading facilities.”[9] On August 11, 2009, the Treasury Department sent Congress draft legislation to implement its proposal to amend the CFMA and other laws to provide “comprehensive regulation of all over-the counter derivatives.” This proposal was revised in the House and, in that revised form, passed by the House on December 11, 2009, as part of H.R. 4173 (Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009). Separate, but similar, proposed legislation was introduced in the Senate and still awaiting Senate action at the time of the House action.[10]

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                  • #10
                    Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                    And more on the dirty dealings of corporate influence in Washington....

                    Gramm and the ‘Enron Loophole’ - NYTimes.com

                    Gramm and the ‘Enron Loophole’

                    In 2000, Senator Phil Gramm played a central role in writing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, a law that would open the door to unregulated trading of credit default swaps, the financial instruments blamed, in part, for the current economic meltdown.

                    But there was another aspect of this legislation that, earlier this decade, helped produce another financial meltdown: the collapse of Enron, the Texas energy company.

                    The commodity futures act, in addition to allowing unregulated trading of financial derivatives, included language advocated by Enron that largely exempted the company from regulation of its energy trading on electronic commodity markets, like its once-popular Enron Online. The provision came to be known as the Enron Loophole.

                    E-mail written by Enron executives and lobbyists — which became public as part of a federal investigation after Enron collapsed — shows how top Enron officials closely monitored negotiations on the bill. They paid particular attention to Mr. Gramm, who before a final agreement in late 2000 was trying to press other key figures on Capitol Hill and at the White House to agree to concessions that would further curtail regulation of trading.

                    Enron’s primary concern was that Mr. Gramm’s insistence at getting these additional free-market concessions — most of which were unrelated to Enron’s business — might scuttle the whole deal, killing Enron’s chance of getting the loophole it sought.

                    Enron was a major contributor to Mr. Gramm’s political campaigns, and Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy, served on the Enron board, which she joined after stepping down as chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

                    Although not directly related to the current economic crisis, the Enron e-mail provides a window into how much clout Mr. Gramm had as chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and the ways lobbyists intervened to advance and defend their interests during negotiations on the bill.....


                    You can read as much of the article as you can stomach.

                    Steve

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                    • #11
                      Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                      A solid piece of proof to the fact that big business does in fact have a great deal of control over our system of government is looking at how citizens versus corporations are treated in the eyes of the law.

                      If I break a window and steal a car, I'll be sent to jail for years, put on probation, monitored, and that record will effect my life for a very long time both in the private world and in the eyes of the law. We have a "three strikes" law for offenders in California.

                      Looking at a corporate entity, wrongdoing is punished by meager fines and...that's it. Virtually no other punishment exists for breaking the law other than sometimes requiring a company to rectify a situation and/or pay a fine. No record, generally no monitoring, nothing.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                        Actually, if a person can be implicated in the corporation for breaking the law, he can and will be prosecuted. The reason corporations are usually punished by fines is because responsibility is often diffuse, or it's impossible to figure out who did what.

                        When you break a window, you broke a window. It's open and shut. If a corporation designs windows that break too easily, the government can either launch an investigation to see if anyone is criminally responsible, or they can just levy a fine. Maybe the engineers are criminals? Maybe the engineers wanted a better designed window but someone above them wanted to use cheaper material.

                        A lot of people wonder why no one's going to jail for the financial crisis. The simple reason is because almost all of the actual wrongdoing was among middle management and traders, not the executives. The public would get no more satisfaction out of jailing upper middle class professionals than the government would.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Where OWS gets it wrong: Wall Street doesn't control the government

                          I'd also point out a double standard between corporations and the government. When a corporation does something wrong, a lot of people will hold the CEO personally responsible. Some will even call for his arrest.

                          However, when the government does something wrong, something more horrible than even the worst act of any corporation in history, these same people won't call for the President's head. Then it becomes about arresting or firing somebody way down the line. The President couldn't possibly be responsible for something some guy in the Dept. of Huh? did! And of course it can't be an indictment of government in general, even though the government makes sure to do at least one mindbogglingly awful thing per year.

                          All I ask of corporate critics is that they think, "What if the government had done this?" Because a lot of things corporations do, the government has done as well. The government pollutes. The government discriminates. The government fouls up and loses billions of dollars. Yet there is a sense of proportion when it comes to government. The same deference should be shown to Wal-mart.

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