Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thieves And Idiots

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."               – H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956
As we look out at both the financial landscape and the political landscape in America, there are times we seriously doubt the wisdom of editor, writer, and satirist H.L. Mencken.

Right now, Americans appear to be collectively dumber than ever before. We've got a major party candidate for President who has a record of near constant lying, American job destruction, and benefiting from corporate welfare. We're also dealing with the continuation of the U.S. banking scandals on Wall Street, and a worldwide scandal in the Libor rate-fixing controversy. Americans seem to have no idea of who has really been screwing them, economically. What's worse, they don't seem to care.

It's not as though Americans trust bankers or really trust anyone on Wall Street these days. A recent Gallup poll found Americans' faith in banks and Wall Street is at a record low right now. In short, Americans just want to toss all the bankers in jail, and throw away the keys - something we frankly can't disagree with.

The problem with that - outside of the pure unethical nature of it - is that until the people wake up to what's been done to them, and who did it, they can't possibly begin to fix the system.

Mitt Romney's issues with releasing his tax returns are a perfect example. Mr. Romney is statistically likely to be one of the people tagged by the Tax Justice Network's study released last weekend. That study said that the wealthiest people in the world have likely hidden away between $21 and $32 Trillion in untaxed global assets. To put it bluntly, the richest people in the world are stealing tax revenue from the rest of us in ways that are unprecedented.

Yet, in a different USA Today/Gallup Poll released on Monday, nearly two-thirds of Americans currently think Mitt Romney's experience as the head of vulture turnover firm Bain Capital would cause him to make good economic decisions, not bad ones. So… stealing from Americans and giving to one's self is now good fiscal policy, according to the majority of Americans in that poll.

In another banking scandal that originated on Wall Street, the municipal bond-rigging scandal that Matt Taibbi reported recently outlines how private banks have been ripping off municipalities for trillions of dollars that taxpayers will likely never see again. As Taibbi noted, while there may be a lot of complicated words and math, the bank actions boil down to little more than mafia-style thuggery.

Finally, the Libor rate-fixing scandal that so few people seem to actually understand involves - you guessed it - banks from all over the world, lying and stealing from each other. Since they've all lied and stolen so much, and then built our world economies on the backs of those lies, our entire world economy has - once again - been put on the brink of collapse.

There has been some minor pressure to arrest the bankers and corporate criminals responsible for these disasters. However, the fact that little more than four years after Wall Street criminals almost destroyed the world economy, one of them is now running for President - competitively - seems to prove that Americans may indeed be far more stupid than H.L. Mencken ever imagined.

Maybe a better strategy would be to throw the American public in jail, and let the bankers wipe each other out.

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