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DeVos: Rub their noses in it and throw them out

Jon De Vos
The Friday Report
Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

It helps to think of the 2008 Recession in sandbox terms because at the heart of it was the greed and self-centeredness you would expect from children, oblivious to the consequences of their actions.

A Credit Default Swap is sort of like a banker taking a dollar out of his wallet and folding it in half. Counting each edge, he now has two dollars. Folded again, he counts to four and then folded once more, he puts eight dollars on the books. A competing banker across the street, with whom he plays racquetball weekly, peeks over his shoulder, borrows four dollars of the eight, then takes out an insurance policy on all 12 dollars, the original eight, plus the four he borrowed. When things fall apart, they smile and collect the insurance while 11 dollars of wishful-thinking-wealth winks out of existence, taking our 401K money that we’d set aside from our paychecks with it. That sums up 2008.

Then it got weird. Our government rushed in to replace all the banks’ money, but not ours. This is especially odd in that our money came out of our pockets, but the bank’s money was hypothetical, existing only in a fantasy world of narcissism and greed. Too big to fail? Stupid me, I thought it was the American Dream that was too big to fail. But that’s old-fashioned thinking.

Instead of pouring money into America, into jobs, into repairing our roads and bridges, instead of repairing our aged electrical and natural gas grids, dangerous dams and levees and on and on, they lavished billions on the very bankers that tanked the world economy. The government’s money and our 401Ks were absorbed like a sponge and passed out in Bentleys.

Despite wishing it could not get worse or weirder, it did last week on Wednesday when the United States Court of Appeals threw out the definition of “insider trading” that has stood for 30 years. They substituted a new, more limited definition of liability that will likely overturn many criminal convictions already obtained, as well as gutting future efforts to curb a practice that amounts to little more than filling a racehorse with amphetamines, then joining your racquetball partner at the betting window.

What could be worse or weirder than that? Well, it’s good you’re sitting. The very next day, on Thursday the House passed a trillion-dollar spending bill to get us through the next few months. It still has that little hurdle of the Senate and the presidential pen, but keeping the government open, that’s good, right? Well, not entirely. Four pages from the end of this 1,600 page bill, there’s a rider that increases personal campaign contributions by a factor of 10. Thanks to our clear-thinking representatives, soon all of us will enjoy the privilege of being able to donate $324,000 annually to the candidate of our choice. Couples can celebrate the right to donate $1.3 million every two-year election cycle. In America these days, if you ain’t wealthy, you ain’t … surely gonna get elected.

But that’s not all, though Good Lord, I wish it were. Buried elsewhere in the bill is a rider crafted by Citigroup lobbyists that would once again allow credit default swaps and other delirious and speculative gambles. It worked well for them last time, why not try it again? After all, it’s been a whole six years since the economy flushed like an airplane toilet.

The U.S. Capitol has turned into a snack-vending machine. Insert appropriate coin and out slides a Congressman. If you buy one, don’t forget to have him wormed and neutered.


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