In this final installment, I want to emphasize the connection between economics and politics. In my mind the two are interwoven and inseparable. Economics is about who produces what, and politics is about who gets to keep it. The political system is exactly as virtuous as are the people who comprise it. Activity in the economy reflects the virtue of the political system by showing everyone what can be gotten away with.
Below, Keith Hazelton, a guest writer at Jesse’s Café Américain, ponders what has become of Americans by observing what we have allowed our government to become. The writer hits the main themes hard: the scandalous lying, cheating and stealing at the highest levels; the organized and deliberate destruction of the middle class; the “Financial Reform Act” that cements in place the too-big-to-fails (TBTFs); and finally, the gaping hole where federal law enforcement activity should be.
Excerpts from Guest Post: Slouching Toward Despotism. Emphases mine.
[…] Dr. Franklin, given his age (81) and health, asked to have his commentary read to delegates preceding what he hoped would be a unanimous vote in favor of a nonetheless flawed agreement. [the new Constitution-JJ]
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, (but) can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.
And the question we keep pondering is, “Are we there yet?” Are we merely slouching toward despotism, or have we arrived? Are we already so corrupt so as to need despotic government, what with Vampire Squids and corporate/union-bought elections and Congressional bystanders and regulatory capture and Systemically Important Too Big To Fail and Gulf of Mexico oil well disasters?
[…] In previous posts we have observed the growing and discernible disconnect between several types of government-reported economic data such as Retail Sales and actual state sales tax collections, and the Employment Situation and withholding tax collections. Others also have made solid cases for these disconnects between statistical theory and economic reality and it occurs to me that, far from being isolated or random events, they are evidence of much more disconcerting forces at work.
[…] The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, estimates who is working and who is not, but conveniently excludes millions of people from its composition of the unemployment rate who are not working but neither deeming them “unemployed” because they are “marginally attached” to the workforce or are “discouraged” by a lack of job prospects and no longer are looking for employment (2.3 million as of March 2010 plus another 3.4 million “persons who currently want a job,” who also aren’t counted as unemployed).
[…] As to why government statistical agencies may be reporting “happy” numbers, well, you know the answer to that…government statistics are lying’s fifth circle of hell, just a shade better than Campaign Promises.
[…] The Banking Act of 1933 – Glass-Steagall – was a wonder of simplicity in a simpler era. It set forth in a mere 37 pages of text the safeguards necessary to separate commercial banking from everything else and to ably prevent for 66 years – two full generations – any meaningful implosion of the nation’s financial system. The useless financial reform act – the Dodd act – weighs in at a lobbyist-induced 1,500+ pages, and will do nothing to prevent another financial crisis, nothing to dismantle Too Big Too Fail, nothing to contain derivatives, nothing to audit the Federal Reserve and nothing to curtail abuses in consumer financial practices.
Yet where are the criminal investigations? Where is the FBI? Where are the Congressional inquiries and panels and special prosecutors? Where are the indictments? Where are the perp walks and the jail sentences?
[…] In fact we think the oligarchs…are redoubling their efforts to pillage as much as possible before the real collapse occurs, even as its seeds already have been sown in this crisis which now appears, by design and deception, to be ending. That collapse draws nigh, and Roubini and Taleb and Ritholtz and Panzer and Jesse and Tyler and Mish and Yves and Charles Hugh Smith and Joe Bageant and many, many others already see it, yet all are being dismissed – again – as those nattering nabobs of negativism…
We are better than what we have allowed. We have a lot of work in front of us.