Former CNBC star Dylan Ratigan, who now toils away at MSNBC, had these thoughts to share over at the Huffington Post regarding the state of the U.S. financial system.
Americans Have Been Taken Hostage
The American people have been taken hostage to a broken system. It is a system that remains in place to this day.
A system where bank lobbyists have been spending in record numbers to make sure it stays that way.
A system that corrupts the most basic principles of competition and fair play, principles upon which this country was built.
It is a system that so far has forced the taxpayer to provide the banks with the use of $14 trillion from the Federal Reserve, much of the $7 trillion outstanding at the US Treasury and $2.3 trillion at the FDIC.
A system partially built by the very people who currently advise our President, run our Treasury Department and are charged with its reform.
And most stunningly -- it is a system that no one in our government has yet made any effort to fundamentally change.
That seems to be a common theme today, that is, if you're paying attention to that sort of thing rather than being distracted by where (and with whom) President Obama had lunch today after delivering another inspiring speech, this before a Wall Street crowd on the subject of financial market reform on the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
President Obama noted:
I want everybody here to hear my words. We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.
So far, the odds of reforming health care seem much better than for Wall Street.
If Washington was really serious about changing the way things work in New York, they ought to just nip that "life settlements securitization" business in the bud right now.
But they won't.
Unlike the health care industry, a group that heavily influences what lawmakers do, the financial industry essentially runs some portions of the government, and that makes change all the more difficult.
Back to Mr. Ratigan, who opines on that same topic:
Like health care, this is a referendum on our government's ability to function on behalf of the American people. Ask yourself how long you are willing to be held hostage? How long will you let our elected officials be the agents of those whose business it is to exploit our government and the American people at any cost?
As hostages -- was there any sum of money we wouldn't have given AIG?
Why did we pay Goldman Sachs and all the other banks 100 cents on the dollar for their contracts with AIG, using taxpayer money, while we forced GM and others to take massive payment cuts?
Why hasn't any of the bonus money paid to the CEOs that built this financial nuclear bomb been clawed back?
And more than anything else -- why does the US Congress refuse to outlaw the most anti-competitive structure known to our economy, one summed up as TOO BIG TOO FAIL?
There's much more to this, including something of a mea culpa from Ratigan for contrary views expressed whle in the employ of CNBC.
It's too bad that the public at large doesn't understand the financial system as well as they do health care or they'd be doing things that would make recent health care town hall meetings look quite tame by comparison.
Today, the mood generally seems to be, "Just keep the stocks in my retirement plan going up, not down, and we'll forget about the whole thing."
This article has been republished from Tim Iacono's blog, The Mess That Greenspan Made.