Friday, January 8, 2010

That Giant Sucking Sound

Not only is she damned cute, she's also damned smart and damned outspoken. I'm talking about Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel which is the watchdog on the bank bailouts. (Actually, I don't know what kind of powers this panel has, but my suspicion is that they are advisory only, otherwise we'd have heard more about this body.) She's got a piece in the Huffington Post about the disappearance of the middle class. Something that five years ago people would have scoffed at. Today, it seems almost common knowledge that the vaunted American middle class, middle brow and all, is fading away under relentless assault by the silk hat crowd, the fat cat class, you know, those people the taxpayers of the U.S. bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and whose asses we still kiss. That giant sucking sound you hear is the middle class going down the drain.

Here are some facts:

Wanna know how the middle class has been slowly beaten down during the past generation? It's all here.

  •  Wages have been flat since the 1970s, despite rising productivity from workers.
  • Core expenses, though, are way up--twice as much for mortgages and health care, for example.
  • To hold on more and more families put a second parent into the workforce, but this increased all kinds of expenses such as child care and taxes with the result these families have been squeezed all that much harder. And they've cut back across the board: less on food, clothing, furniture, appliances.
But while the middle class tread water at best,  the fat cats in big banking were doing just fine, thank you. And it was at the expense of the middle class: they've made an obscene fortune out of consumer credit. "The industry has generated tens of billions of dollars annually in fees made possible by deceptive and dangerous terms buried in the fine print of opaque, incomprehensible, and largely unregulated contracts. And as we all know, when the shit hit the fan, the bankers got bailed out by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

And almost beyond belief, here we are about a year after this, and these very same villains are spending millions watering down any attempts in Congress to pass meaningful financial reform laws. And they're succeeding. How is this possible? Bill Moyers had a couple of guys from Mother Jones on his PBS Journal Friday night --David Corn and Kevin Drum--talking about this very thing. It's called incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington. I have to tell you, after what I heard, I'm not at all encouraged that anything ever stopping these blood-suckers. (You can read all the Mother Jones articles right here. There are five of them, all the results of investigative reporting of the financial industry. If they don't make you mad as hell, you have reptile blood.)
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