This country is home to all sorts of people. No matter their politics, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation, most of them are hard working, sincere, and intellectually competent. They’re generous and kind, constantly giving their time, skills and/or money whenever disasters strike at home or abroad.
But, then, comes a much smaller group of counter-parts. They’re the folks who, having nothing worthwhile to say, feel compelled to say SOMETHING.
While their numbers are far fewer, they manage to say nothing the loudest thanks to a media that knows the highest ratings go to the media groups that cater to America’s lowest cerebral common denominators.
I receive a fair amount of email from these people. Generalizing, based on some common traits they’ve assigned to me, I’m a “queer-loving, God-hating, America-hating fag.”
But, while I never respond to them, it amazes me how many of them consistently read my stuff! Week after week! Like moths drawn to flames.
Recently, a man—I’m assuming the gender—condemned every Democrat politician beginning with Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama for the fiscal catastrophe we now face.
Skillfully, using multiple isolated facts, he outlined his reasoning for blaming the housing bubble burst on the Community Reinvestment Act wildly supported by all of the above. Of course, he left out George W. Bush, a Republican, who also wildly supported it.
He made it clear that the financial disaster’s beginnings stemmed from various Democratic Administrations forcing banks to lend money to people who could not afford it.
Of course, the Community Reinvestment Act mandated no such thing. It simply outlawed credit refusal based on applicants’ ZIP codes (redlining) rather than their credit worthiness. But, hey, let’s not nitpick!
So, while I agreed with his post as far as the isolated facts took it, I reminded him that we don't arrive at truth by cherry picking isolated facts that support our preconceived notions.
I suggested that before the clueless go condemning those stinkin’, no-good lying Demi-crat Liberals, it might be less embarrassing for them to check ALL the facts.
As a Republican, I know that the Party remains forever true to its historical prime directive: WIN THE DAMN ELECTION FIRST and argue over details later. Conversely, Democrats would rather lose an election than concede even the most MINOR of insignificant ideological points.
Now, as to Jimmy Carter’s infatuation with the Community Reinvestment Act, an isolated fact, he was correct. As for his charge of government mismanagement of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (another isolated fact) he was also correct.
But these were not the underlying cause of the financial dive of 2008. THAT award goes to the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which assumed—though stupidly—that Wall Street had the country’s best interests at heart.
In fact, banking lobbyists on K Street had spent BILLIONS over the past 5-decades on endless efforts to win Congressional approval aimed at desegregating the worlds of investment banking from commercial banking.
In 1999, Bill Clinton signed into law the Financial Services Modernization Act, aka the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act. At the time, Senator Phil Gramm was the bill’s lead sponsor and the banking industry’s “bestest friend in the whole world.”
The passage of this legislation, with the blessings of Fed Chief, Alan Greenspan, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act that Congress had put in place to protect the citizens of this country from the ravages of greed-induced, free-for-all capitalism: the underlying platform that ushered in the Great Depression of the ‘30s.
He (Gramm) offered this gem in support of the ACT; “In the 1930s, at the trough of the Depression, when Glass-Steagall became law, it was believed that government was the answer. It was believed that stability and growth came from government overriding the functioning of free markets.”
Old Phil was full of wisdom as he continued with, “We are here today to repeal Glass-Steagall because we have learned that government is not the answer. We have learned that freedom and competition are the answers. We have learned that we promote economic growth and we promote stability by having competition and freedom.”
Phil was partly correct: government is not ALWAYS the answer. But, SOMETIMES, it’s the ONLY answer. Regulation for its own sake devastates free enterprise. But, regulations that prevent the foxes from GUARDING the hen-house, and preventing full access to the hens, are JUST as critical to maintaining free enterprise.
So, let’s keep things in perspective. The Financial Services Modernization Act decriminalized the very profit motivating behavior that Wall Street embraced, eventually leading to our current financial chaos.
The Republicans were in the majority at the time. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) chaired the U. S. Senate committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Other Republican members were Richard Bennett (Utah), Wayne Allard (Colo.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Elizabeth Dole (N. C.), John Sununu (N. H.), and Lincoln Chafee (R. I.).
The ranking minority member was Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). The other Democrats were Chris Dodd (Conn.), Tim Johnson (S. D.), Jack Reed (R. I.), Chuck Schumer (N. Y.), Evan Bayh, III (Ind.), Zell Miller (Ga.), Tom Carper (Del.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), and Jon Corzine (N. J.).
Committee Republicans voted “aye” (11-0). Committee Democrats voted “nay” (10-0). As usual, partisanship ruled the day, not the public’s best interests.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations can go on from now until dooms day. However, thanks to Congress, Wall Street did nothing ILLEGAL! And until Congress replaces some of the critical regulations it repealed, with significant prison time for future violators, NOTHING will change.
Wall Street is not a good versus evil scenario. Wall Street speculators exist to make money for themselves and their clients. The notion that they give a damn about the market and the welfare of our financial system is dangerous at best.
They don’t care a hoot if the market collapses because they know how to position themselves and their clients, in ADVANCE, to make financial killings when it goes south.
We’ve seen nothing yet. I give it about another year and it’s all going to hit bottom big time; and, U. S. Presidents, Left or Right, will have no hand in it. But, as long as Congress is interested in defeating their opponents to the exclusion of doing what’s in the country’s best interests, they’ll be primary culprit cohorts, both sides of the aisle.
It is business as usual. Politics is the only profession whose members create massive problems and then campaign on the alleged virtues of their OWN solutions to solve them. Tragically, we buy into the scheme every two and four-years.
Personally, I’d as soon have my hemorrhoids ripped out by a medical quack using needle-nose pliers and NO anesthesia than trust a single word these people say.
In 1999, government had to get out of the way for the good of the fine citizens of this great nation. But, in 2008… oops, perhaps not. It doesn’t get any phonier than this.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.