“Hijacked” by the “Oligarchy”

In a previous post here, (“You say you want a revolution…”) I wrote that Wall Street and our government are one and the same and that legislation is passed or killed based on what the moneyed interests want and not the people.

Now it’s certainly easy to dismiss such comments as the pathetic, liberal ravings of a lefty. But when a legitimate, successful businessman, and a capitalist all the way, says the same thing and goes further, it is truly sad and frightening.

I don’t watch much television but after reading Even Glenn Beck Is Right Twice a Day, NY Times Op-Ed, 9-19-09, I was shocked to find myself agreeing with something Beck had to say (we’ll get to that businessman shortly):

“Wall Street owns our government,” Beck declared in one rant this July. “Our government and these gigantic corporations have merged.” He drew a chart to dramatize the revolving door between Washington and Goldman Sachs in both the Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner Treasury departments.”

My curiosity extremely piqued, I clicked on the drew a chart link, which led to a Huffington Post piece and video clip from one of Beck’s shows. In the clip Beck goes off on a confusing, but well-deserved rant about the ties between Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs and our federal government. One thing that set him off was when, this past summer and after taking $10 billion in taxpayer bailout money, Goldman Sachs posted a profit of $3.44 billion for the second quarter.

I urge you to watch the clip, which runs about ten minutes. Stay with it, especially for the last three minutes or so, when Beck interviews the businessman I mentioned above, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. Here’s a guy who is a capitalist through and through. He runs a very legitimate, successful Internet company that has been around for several years. And what he has to say about America is truly frightening.

During the interview Beck says that the way Goldman Sachs is tied to the government, it’s “a criminal organization.”

“It’s as if we bailed out the Corleone family,” Byrne replied, “and then they turn around two quarters later and have a record quarter. This is rich bankers bailing out rich bankers on your credit card.”

“Will you agree with me that Wall Street owns our government?” Beck asked.

“Absolutely. Economists have a term for it, it’s called Regulatory Capture.” Byrne told him. “Society sets up regulators to protect us from certain industries like Wall Street but often these regulators come under the thumb of the industry and they’re called a captured regulator. Wall Street has captured the institutions that are supposed to have protected our country from Wall Street. They’ve just become wholly owned subsidiaries.”

Beck shoots back with: “Our government and these gigantic corporations have merged and if you’re not in one of those gigantic corporations forget about it, Jack.”

Byrne then gets truly scary. “It’s called an oligarchy (government by a few, well-connected people.) A group of powerful folks who have basically hijacked the government. We have an oligarchy who’s captured Washington, DC and they have just prevented, they’ve manufactured this… they’ve manufactured the loopholes that let this happen and they’re doing everything they can do to keep those loopholes from being closed.”

Not good. Not good at all. Sing it with me: “You say you want a revolution…”

ADDITIONAL READING:

For a great explanation on how Wall Street and the bankers took America and the world to the cleaners watch a guy named William K. (Bill) Black being interviewed on PBS by Bill Moyers. Bill Black was a government regulator during the S&L scandal of the late 1980s (brought to you by another Bush, George H.W.) and was formerly the Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention. He now teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and wrote the book The Best Way to Rob A Bank is to Own One.

Black further proves my point of Wall Street and our government being one and the same when during the interview he points out how, as the economy imploded in the fall of 2008, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who prior to getting that job was CEO of Goldman Sachs (which is a major problem to start with!), created a recommendation group to tell the Treasury Department what they should do about the AIG disaster. Guess whom he included on the panel of this recommendation group? That’s right, friends of his from Goldman Sachs, who also happened to have a huge stake in the outcome of how the government handled AIG. This was an immense conflict of interest, yet they got away with it.

I also urge you to read the great investigative reporting done by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone Magazine. Here’s a great piece called Inside The Great American Bubble Machine – Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression.

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