Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Rat Patrol (Video Bonanza)

Here are three videos that you should watch if you can spare the time. If you've just got time for one, watch the one embedded below. It's the first segment of 60 Minutes from earlier tonight. It's about 401(k)s and the victims of the crash in values of these things . . . . and more. First of all, there are the victims: good hard-working people who are now in their 50s and 60s who played by the rules and who no longer can reasonably expect to retire. The lady in her 50s who's checking out groceries, or running a day care out of her house, or the guy in his early 60s now working two jobs, one of them as a counter guy at Starbuck's. This is sad and heart-wrenching, but it's not what you will remember.

What you will remember is a Mr. David Kay who is a lobbyist for the 401(k) industry and president of some kind of 401(k) association. You will not believe this creep. As my son would say, "What a rat!" Not one microsecond of sympathy for all this suffering does he have. What he does have is a whole load of blame for the millions of victims of his industry for not being better investors! You see, it's their fault, all these millions who were forced to these plans because companies discovered how much cheaper they were than pension plans, all these millions who were ignorant about investing. You do know who made out like bandits, don't you? Wall Street. They made billions off 4o1(k) plans. Oh, and were you aware of the vast number of fees 401(k) owners have to pay? That they hardly if ever know about? And did you know that the industry has fought tooth and nail, so far successfully, to prohibit Congress from passing legislation to make these fees more visible? What a surprise, eh? Your blood will boil.

And if you've got the time--in fact, you can split up the task since the videos are divided into pieces--I heartily recommend you check out two more videos (slide a little down the page), both of speeches given by winners of the Izzy Award for Independent Journalism: Glenn Greenwald, whose blog in Salon you'll see listed over on the left under "I Never Miss." And Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now," who's another hero for people who remember what reporting is supposed to be about. These pieces are about what's happened to reportage in this country. It has virtually died, replaced by corporate journalism, which exists to disseminate government and corporate viewpoints, propaganda, properly so called. Greenwald says, "If it's not independent, it's not journalism." Everybody at the speech applauded "Amen"--hardly what would be mainstream opinion. But that's what's happened to the news in this country.
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