Consumers, then chumps for predatory capitalism

Well, Monday was Citigroup’s turn! No, we mustn’t pass judgment for if we don’t protect capitalism, no matter its abhorrent and sanguine behavior, what else do we have? For decades we have been extolling the virtues of a so-called free enterprise that never was in these United States, associating it with another myth, democracy. It appears that unless we keep clinging to this fantasy, both our pride and our dignity will be shattered.

Exhibiting total idiocy in bailing out all forty-thieves in Ali Baba’s cave is likely to be rationalized using the time-tested subterfuge that if government doesn’t offer bailouts and guarantees, things will get much worse: that it may put us on a path to misery, an unwelcome economic era. Always the devil’s lie delivered with a smile. We must reinforce the rotten structure we inhabit, we are told, or we won’t have a place to spend the night; never mind the rainy, then freezing seasons that are sure to come afterwards.

Never mind what’s to come; let others pay for our sins; let others in the future take the medicine we should be self-prescribing today. Next, it will be the domestically-owned auto industry, and just about anyone else that cares to stand in queue… let cities, states and all conceivable agencies tap into this credit tit until the udder is sucked dry. Let’s cash in our claim as an all-deserving people, God’s “other” chosen people on earth. We are here to spend… let others save on our behalf!

On with our spending ways, China is good for another trillion or two… at the end of the road, innovative Americans will find a way to pay everything back; magically, without any sacrifice to boot: American ingenuity, or haven’t you heard?

No… we insist that we not be preached to. No prophets allowed in America to tell us what we are doing wrong. Does anyone remember the sinking sands that “honest” Jimmy Carter got himself into by proclaiming in 1979 the existence of a malaise in our nation? Twenty-nine years later, Americans have not “forgiven” him. In fact, Americans not only stoned St. James of Plains into martyrdom, but also cursed his Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, whose tough-love economic undertakings allowed the US, after some pain, to emerge in 1983 as a nation with a much stronger economy.

And to think that it was precisely the hated work that Carter and Volcker had started in 1979 that got Ronald Reagan reelected in 1984! Credit where credit was never due! The irony of it all: ignorance often rules over knowledge, at times even certitude.

I cannot help but think that our elected Congress, those there now, and those who will assemble on January 6, 2009 as the 111th Congress, aren’t really citizens of honor and wisdom, only politicians of the self-perpetuating kind; and more likely than not, they will add to the misery of generations to come. But isn’t the House and one-third of the Senate the elected product of this past election, one proclaiming a desired change of direction by the leadership of both political parties? Who wouldn’t want to believe that?

Lobbyists are alive and well, as strong and powerful as ever, in this regime-change that escorts in President-elect Obama. Most of us, hopefully or grudgingly, have added our name to the well-wishers list. Those of us on the left have our hearts set more on a miracle than on a man, expecting that Obama’s brilliance, vision and political-savvy are enough to, at the very least, establish a true political center in the governing politics of this country, and not continue in that chimeric center we have proclaimed to be in for decades, and which is in fact the center of the right; and that this recent center-right (Bush) was really nothing but the nefarious extreme right.

On that note, moving the pseudo-center to a true center and governing Americans from there, Barack Obama has his work cut out for him. That with an economy in shambles!

Volcker advising, Geithner (Treasury) and Summers (National Economic Council) on the frontline, capable as they are, will likely provide optimal solutions to untangle and redo the economic mess we are in; but one question still remains: how much will those solutions have to be watered down to make them politically acceptable to Obama?

Efforts to overhaul the economy, to bite the bullet and let the depression work itself out, do not play well with either Democrats or Republicans, for they are truly committed to a political culture of corruption, lobbyism, and short term results required by demanding, often intransigent constituencies.

Who else but you… and me, to be contrite and swallow the medicine now; let the recession, or rather the depression, play out… even if it entails a heart transplant for this moribund capitalism.