EAT THE BANKERS!
A Teaching Moment in Oakland, CA
Jay B Gaskill
Attorney at Law
As of this moment, Oakland protesters, whose nesting areas are not all that far from my perch here, have set fires, barricaded public thoroughfares, smashed the windows of two commercial banks (Wells Fargo & Bank of America), vandalized a popular, high-end grocery (Whole Foods), terrorizing customers huddled therein, and (when I last checked) were still blocking the truck entrance to the fifth busiest container trans-shipping center in the USA, the Port of Oakland.
These unruly mobs are getting a pass from the local media, who vapidly emphasize the otherwise peaceful elements among the protesters while conveniently ignoring the fact that the very same naïve crowds have blocked authorities from entering the occupied and cordoned off public spaces. As a perfectly predictable result, rats, feces and thuggish behavior flourish within these zones, all under the flag of “free speech.”
Sadly, the city of Oakland California has a serious policing challenge, given its outsized crime-prone subpopulation, its fiscally and politically crippled police department (whose popular police chief recently quit in disgust), superintended by a hapless, clueless mayor elected in a bizarrely gamed voting scheme in which she got about 1/4th of the votes. Mayor Quan is a former city council person currently in the thrall of a virulently anti-police legal advisor. Mayor Quan’s earlier claim to fame was her support of Ebonics. Just trust me on these assertions. I know Oakland like the back of my hand.
This is just context. My main topic is Banks & Toxic Politics.
American commercial banks have been set up to fail via a process of political manipulation. Leading up to the toxic mortgage engendered banking collapse, American lending institutions were cajoled, regulated and coerced into making bad mortgage loans. After the inevitable collapse, banks were “rescued” with a plan that, among other ill-considered elements, provided them with a stream of essentially interest-free loans on one side of the ledger and the irresistible opportunity to place that same money in federally guaranteed T-bills and other protected instruments at a favorable interest rate, enabling them to survive on paper without actually doing any real banking in the traditional, old fashioned sense.
This was bank welfare. The OWS mobs are angry at the banks, in part, for not making enough consumer loans and not giving enough interest on deposits. You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out that the banks are behaving in exactly the way that government programmed them to behave.
Karl Marx invented the term Capitalism. In his time, free enterprise – defined as the operation of the system of regular, voluntary exchange of goods and services, supported by a legal system that punishes fraud and enforces legitimate contracts, and free from political manipulation – did not really exist except as a rare exception to the general rule. Political favoritism has distorted and corrupted the market system from the beginning of human history. When Adam Smith wrote about the invisible hand that makes the market system work, he was talking about a system that was essentially free from political gaming. The invisible hand that is operating in the current financial crisis is the clumsy hand of government itself.
And the protesters and our compliant media have fallen for the scam hook, line and sinker.
As Published on The Policy Think Site and its linked blogs. www.jaygaskill.com. Copyright © 2011 by Jay B Gaskill, All Rights Reserved. Forwarded links with appropriate attribution are welcome and encouraged. For all other reproductions, permissions and comments, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The author is the California attorney who served as the Seventh Alameda County Public Defender, headquartered in Oakland, California.
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