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Matt Taibbi writes: "And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning - they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more."

Activists demonstrate outside of the New York Stock Exchange against Wall Street bonuses, 12/15/10. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Activists demonstrate outside of the New York Stock Exchange against Wall Street bonuses, 12/15/10. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)



Wall Street Isn't Winning - It's Cheating

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

26 October 11

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

was at an event on the Upper East Side last Friday night when I got to talking with a salesman in the media business. The subject turned to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, and he was chuckling about something he'd heard on the news.

"I hear [Occupy Wall Street] has a CFO" he said. "I think that's funny."

"Okay, I'll bite," I said. "Why is that funny?"

"Well, I heard they're trying to decide what bank to put their money in," he said, munching on hors d'oeuvres. "It's just kind of ironic."

Oh, Christ, I thought. He's saying the protesters are hypocrites because they're using banks. I sighed.

"Listen," I said, "where else are you going to put three hundred thousand dollars? A shopping bag?"

"Well," he said, "it's just, they're protests are all about ... You know ..."

"Dude," I said. "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street."

"Whatever," he said, shrugging.

These nutty criticisms of the protests are spreading like cancer. Earlier that same day, I'd taped a TV segment on CNN with Will Cain from the National Review, and we got into an argument on the air. Cain and I agreed about a lot of the problems on Wall Street, but when it came to the protesters, we disagreed on one big thing.

Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.

"I find the one thing [the protesters] have in common revolves around the human emotions of envy and entitlement," he said. "What you have is more than what I have, and I'm not happy with my situation."

Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.

Think about it: there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now? The idea that masses of people suddenly discovered a deep-seated animus/envy toward the rich - after keeping it strategically hidden for decades - is crazy.

Where was all that class hatred in the Reagan years, when openly dumping on the poor became fashionable? Where was it in the last two decades, when unions disappeared and CEO pay relative to median incomes started to triple and quadruple?

The answer is, it was never there. If anything, just the opposite has been true. Americans for the most part love the rich, even the obnoxious rich. And in recent years, the harder things got, the more we've obsessed over the wealth dream. As unemployment skyrocketed, people tuned in in droves to gawk at Evrémonde-heiresses like Paris Hilton, or watch bullies like Donald Trump fire people on TV.

Moreover, the worse the economy got, the more being a millionaire or a billionaire somehow became a qualification for high office, as people flocked to voting booths to support politicians with names like Bloomberg and Rockefeller and Corzine, names that to voters symbolized success and expertise at a time when few people seemed to have answers. At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate.

And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning - they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs - not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned.

All weekend I was thinking about this "jealousy" question, and I just kept coming back to all the different ways the game is rigged. People aren't jealous and they don't want privileges. They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes, things like:

FREE MONEY. Ordinary people have to borrow their money at market rates. Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon get billions of dollars for free, from the Federal Reserve. They borrow at zero and lend the same money back to the government at two or three percent, a valuable public service otherwise known as "standing in the middle and taking a gigantic cut when the government decides to lend money to itself."

Or the banks borrow billions at zero and lend mortgages to us at four percent, or credit cards at twenty or twenty-five percent. This is essentially an official government license to be rich, handed out at the expense of prudent ordinary citizens, who now no longer receive much interest on their CDs or other saved income. It is virtually impossible to not make money in banking when you have unlimited access to free money, especially when the government keeps buying its own cash back from you at market rates.

Your average chimpanzee couldn't fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water. Where do the protesters go to sign up for their interest-free billion-dollar loans?

CREDIT AMNESTY. If you or I miss a $7 payment on a Gap card or, heaven forbid, a mortgage payment, you can forget about the great computer in the sky ever overlooking your mistake. But serial financial fuckups like Citigroup and Bank of America overextended themselves by the hundreds of billions and pumped trillions of dollars of deadly leverage into the system - and got rewarded with things like the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, an FDIC plan that allowed irresponsible banks to borrow against the government's credit rating.

This is equivalent to a trust fund teenager who trashes six consecutive off-campus apartments and gets rewarded by having Daddy co-sign his next lease. The banks needed programs like TLGP because without them, the market rightly would have started charging more to lend to these idiots. Apparently, though, we can't trust the free market when it comes to Bank of America, Goldman, Sachs, Citigroup, etc.

In a larger sense, the TBTF banks all have the implicit guarantee of the federal government, so investors know it's relatively safe to lend to them - which means it's now cheaper for them to borrow money than it is for, say, a responsible regional bank that didn't jack its debt-to-equity levels above 35-1 before the crash and didn't dabble in toxic mortgages. In other words, the TBTF banks got better credit for being less responsible. Click on freecreditscore.com to see if you got the same deal.

STUPIDITY INSURANCE. Defenders of the banks like to talk a lot about how we shouldn't feel sorry for people who've been foreclosed upon, because it's they're own fault for borrowing more than they can pay back, buying more house than they can afford, etc. And critics of OWS have assailed protesters for complaining about things like foreclosure by claiming these folks want "something for nothing."

This is ironic because, as one of the Rolling Stone editors put it last week, "something for nothing is Wall Street's official policy." In fact, getting bailed out for bad investment decisions has been de rigeur on Wall Street not just since 2008, but for decades.

Time after time, when big banks screw up and make irresponsible bets that blow up in their faces, they've scored bailouts. It doesn't matter whether it was the Mexican currency bailout of 1994 (when the state bailed out speculators who gambled on the peso) or the IMF/World Bank bailout of Russia in 1998 (a bailout of speculators in the "emerging markets") or the Long-Term Capital Management Bailout of the same year (in which the rescue of investors in a harebrained hedge-fund trading scheme was deemed a matter of international urgency by the Federal Reserve), Wall Street has long grown accustomed to getting bailed out for its mistakes.

The 2008 crash, of course, birthed a whole generation of new bailout schemes. Banks placed billions in bets with AIG and should have lost their shirts when the firm went under - AIG went under, after all, in large part because of all the huge mortgage bets the banks laid with the firm - but instead got the state to pony up $180 billion or so to rescue the banks from their own bad decisions.

This sort of thing seems to happen every time the banks do something dumb with their money. Just recently, the French and Belgian authorities cooked up a massive bailout of the French bank Dexia, whose biggest trading partners included, surprise, surprise, Goldman, Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Here's how the New York Times explained the bailout:

To limit damage from Dexia's collapse, the bailout fashioned by the French and Belgian governments may make these banks and other creditors whole - that is, paid in full for potentially tens of billions of euros they are owed. This would enable Dexia's creditors and trading partners to avoid losses they might otherwise suffer ...

When was the last time the government stepped into help you "avoid losses you might otherwise suffer?" But that's the reality we live in. When Joe Homeowner bought too much house, essentially betting that home prices would go up, and losing his bet when they dropped, he was an irresponsible putz who shouldn't whine about being put on the street.

But when banks bet billions on a firm like AIG that was heavily invested in mortgages, they were making the same bet that Joe Homeowner made, leaving themselves hugely exposed to a sudden drop in home prices. But instead of being asked to"suck it in and cope" when that bet failed, the banks instead went straight to Washington for a bailout - and got it.

UNGRADUATED TAXES. I've already gone off on this more than once, but it bears repeating. Bankers on Wall Street pay lower tax rates than most car mechanics. When Warren Buffet released his tax information, we learned that with taxable income of $39 million, he paid $6.9 million in taxes last year, a tax rate of about 17.4%.

Most of Buffet's income, it seems, was taxed as either "carried interest" (i.e. hedge-fund income) or long-term capital gains, both of which carry 15% tax rates, half of what many of the Zucotti park protesters will pay.

As for the banks, as companies, we've all heard the stories. Goldman, Sachs in 2008 - this was the same year the bank reported $2.9 billion in profits, and paid out over $10 billion in compensation - paid just $14 million in taxes, a 1% tax rate.

Bank of America last year paidnot a single dollar in taxes - in fact, it received a "tax credit" of $1 billion. There are a slew of troubled companies that will not be paying taxes for years, including Citigroup and CIT.

When GM bought the finance company AmeriCredit, it was able to marry its long-term losses to AmeriCredit's revenue stream, creating a tax windfall worth as much as $5 billion. So even though AmeriCredit is expected to post earnings of $8-$12 billion in the next decade or so, it likely won't pay any taxes during that time, because its revenue will be offset by GM's losses.

Thank God our government decided to pledge $50 billion of your tax dollars to a rescue of General Motors! You just paid for one of the world's biggest tax breaks.

And last but not least, there is:

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE. One thing we can still be proud of is that America hasn't yet managed to achieve the highest incarceration rate in history - that honor still goes to the Soviets in the Stalin/Gulag era. But we do still have about 2.3 million people in jail in America.

Virtually all 2.3 million of those prisoners come from "the 99%." Here is the number of bankers who have gone to jail for crimes related to the financial crisis: 0.

Millions of people have been foreclosed upon in the last three years. In most all of those foreclosures, a regional law enforcement office - typically a sheriff's office - was awarded fees by the court as part of the foreclosure settlement, settlements which of course were often rubber-stamped by a judge despite mountains of perjurious robosigned evidence.

That means that every single time a bank kicked someone out of his home, a local police department got a cut. Local sheriff's offices also get cuts of almost all credit card judgments, and other bank settlements. If you're wondering how it is that so many regional police departments have the money for fancy new vehicles and SWAT teams and other accoutrements, this is one of your answers.

What this amounts to is the banks having, as allies, a massive armed police force who are always on call, ready to help them evict homeowners and safeguard the repossession of property. But just see what happens when you try to call the police to prevent an improper foreclosure. Then, suddenly, the police will not get involved. It will be a "civil matter" and they won't intervene.

The point being: if you miss a few home payments, you have a very high likelihood of colliding with a police officer in the near future. But if you defraud a pair of European banks out of a billion dollars - that's a billion, with a b - you will never be arrested, never see a policeman, never see the inside of a jail cell.

Your settlement will be worked out not with armed police, but with regulators in suits who used to work for your company or one like it. And you'll have, defending you, a former head of that regulator's agency. In the end, a fine will be paid to the government, but it won't come out of your pocket personally; it will be paid by your company's shareholders. And there will be no admission of criminal wrongdoing.

The Abacus case, in which Goldman helped a hedge fund guy named John Paulson beat a pair of European banks for a billion dollars, tells you everything you need to know about the difference between our two criminal justice systems. The settlement was $550 million - just over half of the damage.

Can anyone imagine a common thief being caught by police and sentenced to pay back half of what he took? Just one low-ranking individual in that case was charged (case pending), and no individual had to reach into his pocket to help cover the fine. The settlement Goldman paid to to the government was about 1/24th of what Goldman received from the government just in the AIG bailout. And that was the toughest "punishment" the government dished out to a bank in the wake of 2008.

The point being: we have a massive police force in America that outside of lower Manhattan prosecutes crime and imprisons citizens with record-setting, factory-level efficiency, eclipsing the incarceration rates of most of history's more notorious police states and communist countries.

But the bankers on Wall Street don't live in that heavily-policed country. There are maybe 1000 SEC agents policing that sector of the economy, plus a handful of FBI agents. There are nearly that many police officers stationed around the polite crowd at Zucotti park.

These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don't want handouts. It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war - they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It's amazing that some people think that that's asking a lot.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments  

 
+84 # fredboy 2011-10-26 10:33
Of course they are cheating. Cheating is legal. It's allowed.

For them. Not me and you.
 
 
+67 # Barbara K 2011-10-26 10:38
They cheat because they can. The regulations not only need to be implemented, but expanded with long jail sentences and heavy fines for the cheating crooks. We have been screwed over enough by them and it's time to let them know that we are not going to take it any more.

NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN !!
 
 
+29 # Fair Elections Now 2011-10-26 12:29
Most of our state attorneys general are in the process of giving immunity to the banks for all this criminal activity after they pay a small fine. End of story. No one would be able to touch them.

Fortunately, the NY, Del, CA, and I think NV and KY attorneys general are refusing to go along.

We should protest our state AG in all the other states, and write them and letters to the editor and tell them their job is to investigate and enforce the law on everyone. We should support the few who are doing the right thing.

Check out:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/45040850#45040850;
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/45040809#45040809;
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/45037445#45037445;
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/44942484#44942484;
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/44950682#44950682
 
 
+9 # warrior woman 2011-10-27 07:04
Add MN to the list of not settling.
 
 
+6 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2011-10-28 09:59
Quoting Barbara K:
They cheat because they can. The regulations not only need to be implemented, but expanded with long jail sentences and heavy fines for the cheating crooks. We have been screwed over enough by them and it's time to let them know that we are not going to take it any more.

NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN !!

AND if you have done so in the past, NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN AGAIN!!! BLUE DOGS AND RED ELEPHANTS MUST GO!! VOTE 2012!!!
 
 
+66 # davegowdey 2011-10-26 11:24
What a great article. Matt nailed this one dead on.
 
 
+50 # skayne 2011-10-26 11:28
Matt was right in the CNN interview – Democrats are as much to blame for this as the Republicans. Even with Obama we got the same old-same old Washington/Wall Street love affair, it just had a different face. Until we have publically funded elections nothing will change.
 
 
+8 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-27 21:47
It's NOT a case of he said, she said, or they're both to blame. People like Elizabeth Warren are fighting in the trenches and not a single one of them is republican. If you try to say that Dr. Warren is just like Schumer because they are both Democrats, then you can't be more wrong.
 
 
+51 # tedrey 2011-10-26 11:29
Why are we angry" Let me rant a while.

A Wall Street CEO gets as much as a thousand teachers. A good teacher does more good (and less damage) than a thousand typical CEOs.

If every executive and politician, down to the sheriff and lawyer, who has broken the law -- and I mean the law in force at the time -- had received the proper penalty, what a sweet and law-abiding country we would now be.

I hear complaints that our local Occupy Ann Arbor will mess up the downtown park, by "good citizens" who don't mind that our lands, seas, and air are being "messed up" for good by untouchable corporations.

But I'm getting off the Wall Street topic, and I'll stop this rant now. I could go on forever; we all could. But I'd rather go back to doing something constructive.
 
 
+54 # BradFromSalem 2011-10-26 11:46
Occupy Wall Street!

Until there are no more banks that are too big to fail.

Until there are rules that enforce a ban on any bank doing business in the United States that is too big to fail.

Until the amount of debt that the banks were forgiven, is transferred to the people that actually hold that debt.

Until the financial system in the US is subject to Federal AND state usury laws.

Until the financial system in the US is transparent, and fraud cannot occur because the structure of the system itself will prevent criminal activities.

Until the regulators are required to regulate and all industries are banned from helping to create the regulations that industry operates under.

Until Corporations are not people under the law, nor are they immortal, and the people that work for a corporations are liable as individuals for their actions.

Until only People can donate money to a candidate and every penny must be reported, and any excess after an election must be put in a general fund to fund all candidates.

Until the US limits in some manner the number of Corporate Boards one individual may serve on.

Until the US tax system is progressive and reactive.

Until Democracy is reinstated and Freedom from Oppression by the Oligarchy is destroyed.
 
 
+5 # Doubter 2011-10-27 13:54
Just don't ask me to hold my breath till one of the above receives serious consideration.
 
 
+25 # Eastmain 2011-10-26 11:58
One of Matt's best!
 
 
+26 # jwb110 2011-10-26 12:02
The GOP/TP has now officially become the "Let Them Eat Cake" Party.
It isn't that the the 99% are envious of the rich. It is the 1% are envious of not being able to take the American Public's LAST dollar!
I had a grandmother who was born in 1900. She always made a clear distinction between Bug Business and the wealthy. That is what is happening now. I don't want the wealthy's money. I want a level playing field and I want MY money back. That money is the subsidy I pay to the rich with my tax dollars. I want back all that I spent my life working for and that is now evaporating before my eyes.
Hatchets fell in France whether Marie Antoinette coined the phrase or not. They fell more so because of a bad Oligarchy than from a corrupt monarchy. So Wall St beware. You can blame unrest on everyone but yourselves but axes always fall.
 
 
+14 # keepleft 2011-10-26 12:10
The author of this article is regrettably correct when he says, "It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war." But we can dream can't we.
 
 
+22 # fbacher 2011-10-26 12:18
Banks gamble in the stock market using free money. They sell stocks that they don't even own and they trade in derivatives that no one can understand. They trade using offshore intermediaries to bypass laws and for secrecy.
 
 
-37 # Robt Eagle 2011-10-26 12:23
Nice article. Wouldn't it have made sense then, to let all the bad choice folks who took out mortgages they could ill afford to buy houses way too expensive to own fail just like the banks. Government should not guarantee anything and stop spending money on entitlements as well. By backing the banks and bailing them out, the Federal government basically took the risk out of banking and lending. The greedy individuals who bought the too expensive houses were guilty as well. Now how about Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd touting how financially solvent Fannie Mae was right up until Fannie Mae imploded. and the rating acencies saying how AAA rated the mortgages and the banks were. shouldn't those S&P, and Moody's executives be in jail along with Frank and Dodd? The regulators should be in jail also, but they just missed it all (including Madoff) and why aren't those regulators in jail too for taking salaries and not doing their jobs? All govenment officials not doing what they were supposed to be doing. Read "Reckless Endangerment" by Gretchen Morgenson and get educated!
 
 
+10 # maveet 2011-10-26 16:23
Educated? by Gretchen Morgenson???
 
 
+16 # tedrey 2011-10-26 20:26
Calm down enough to realize that it is the question of unfairness and inequality that is at the root of our protests. To take just one of the issues you have jumbled together here . . . If the people who bought houses too expensive for them should suffer the consequences of their bad judgement, then the banks should also suffer the consequences of their bad judgement, which means that they should fail. On the other hand, if the banks are bailed out and get back all they legally lost, then the homeowners should similarly get their houses back scot-free. Is that clear enough? Which alternative do you choose?
 
 
+7 # Doubter 2011-10-27 14:02
If the government paid off all the bad housing loans IN TOTO everyone could have kept their homes and the banks would get their money to, at a much lower cost to the nation. I don't know why this simple solution is never even mentioned.
 
 
+4 # RLF 2011-10-27 05:11
Maybe dude, but the people who took out these mortgages on houses and continued to pay while they houses value went down(the vast majority) cannot get a new and vastly cheaper mortgage, even though it means the payments would be lower. The banks use the lower value as an excuse but really they just want that extra $500/mth interest. Banks are scum. Now that Obama is having trouble energizing the 99% he screwed for the last 3 years, he talks of fixing this but it is another program without teeth to make the banks do it.
 
 
+6 # Doubter 2011-10-27 13:58
The people that bought houses COULD afford them before the banksters tilted the playing field!
 
 
0 # Obwon 2012-01-24 09:12
Quoting Doubter:
The people that bought houses COULD afford them before the banksters tilted the playing field!


That's a point they'd rather you missed! With real estate appreciating at 10%/yr, factored into the equation, there were few if any who could not afford to buy real estate.

Say you buy a 100k home and after the 1st year you still owe about 100k, but the house is now worth 110k and next year it will be work 121k and so on. Who could afford not to buy, under such circumstances? How many times did you hear "they don't make land any more", during those halcyon years?

What the public did not know then, and the gov't regulators should have told them is: There were fraudulent appraisals and manipulations driving real estate prices up. If the public knew that, we may have had a very different set of outcomes now.

The phrase: "Buying homes they could not afford", is a fiction because it leave out some very significant facts!

Obwon
 
 
-41 # Robt Eagle 2011-10-26 12:27
Oh, yeah, by the way, read "Injustice" by J. Christian Adams to find out how corrupt the Dep't of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder has become...the Obama administration is fully endorsing voter fraud to assure his re-election as those voter laws are being trashed. Scary to think that this is going on in the US today in 2011 for the 2012 elections!!!
 
 
0 # Obwon 2012-01-24 09:24
Quoting Robt Eagle:
Oh, yeah, by the way, read "Injustice" by J. Christian Adams to find out how corrupt the Dep't of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder has become...the Obama administration is fully endorsing voter fraud to assure his re-election as those voter laws are being trashed. Scary to think that this is going on in the US today in 2011 for the 2012 elections!!!


I'll say this; if Obama is going along to get along, it's better him, who at the least has an idea of his own personal prospects of creating his own legacy, than some "loyalist" republican who will take direction from people like Koch and the Tea potty!

Even if all we're getting is a cosmetic delay of the 1%'s programs, any delay is better than no delay at all. Since a whole hell of a lot can happen in a year.

Thirty years of Republican/Rand ian malfeasance and mis-governance, cannot be wiped away or justified by the "equivalence" memes you seek to employ.
Instead they tag you as willing to vote against your own interests, for reasons that border on the insane.
 
 
+24 # Vardoz 2011-10-26 12:28
I am so tired of the blame game. We have to vote out those Blue Dog Democrats that participated out, along with the TP and GOP and replace them new more Progressive candidates- Independents like Elizabeth Warren and it needs to start at the state level because Republicans are redistricting where they have been voted in. Also this not about envy. This is about survival, life and death, hunger, homelessness, joblessness and this is a whole different ball game and has nothing to do with envy. Envy might be because the guy next door has a bigger house or car not about whether they starve or not, or have a job or not, or a living wage or not, or can feed their family or have health care! This is about our futures and the fate of our natiion and if we end up in grinding poverty or not. Envy is the wrong word to apply to this situation and only a greedy moron who is in denial would say something as mindless and absurd as this this! They robbed us, committed fraud, they knew what they were doing and the impact it would have on our nation and world and the MFK's in congress bailed them out, no one was arrested and even Moodys and Standard and Poor's knew they were selling toxic assets and still gave them AAA ratings. It was an all around crime and our reps who we vote for let them get away with it! They don't deserve the office they hold!
 
 
0 # Obwon 2012-01-24 09:26
You need to get over to "Blackbox.org" and add your voice against vote manipulation.
http://themindlesspraetorianblog.blogspot.com/URL%20of%20target%20site A good place to start.
 
 
+13 # Kiwikid 2011-10-26 12:31
Further demonstration of the Golden Rule: Whoever controls the gold makes the rules
 
 
+24 # Bill Clements 2011-10-26 12:41
Do Republicans and conservatives honestly believe this is about envy? I can believe it, of course, because time and again we witness how they preach personal responsibility and yet, when it comes to stepping up to the plate to take responsibility for their own screw-ups or the screw-ups of their friends, suddenly the finger immediately gets pointed at those who have the audacity, the temerity, the effrontery to accuse THEM for something they might actually have to look at and do something about.

Republicans, far too many of them, are just plain hypocrites. And weasels. And these are the people we want running our country?

It's as if they were running on a platform proudly proclaiming themselves The Anti-mensch.
 
 
+20 # tomhanigan@gmail.com 2011-10-26 12:45
It's such a relief to read Matt's articles. It's hard to articulate the emotions that surge when so many people don't understand the OWS stances. And, it's even harder to articulate the complicated schemes that have placed us in this debacle. Again, what a relief. Thanks, Matt.
 
 
+4 # Adoregon 2011-10-26 12:45
We hate the cheater who gets caught.
Let South Park elucidate....

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/165718/how-white-girls-cheat
(After watching this clip you can watch the whole hilarious episode at the same site).
 
 
+16 # CL38 2011-10-26 12:50
Congressional Reform Act of 2011 (Cont)

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, please pass it on.
 
 
+9 # MidwestTom 2011-10-26 12:50
When we have a President who is in it for the fun, and a Cabinet who forgot to pay their taxes, and a Congress of millionaires dependent on Wall Street, who represents the taxpayers?
 
 
+6 # RLF 2011-10-27 05:14
What we need is a 99% tax strike. No more income until they fix the f#*king thing!
 
 
+19 # CL38 2011-10-26 12:51
*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
 
 
+5 # mwd870 2011-10-27 06:05
Making Congress accountable would be a huge step in the right direction.
 
 
+12 # Kayjay 2011-10-26 12:53
These bankers win and prosper because we live in a fascist society. There is no 'liberty and justice for all."
 
 
+17 # oakes721 2011-10-26 12:59
There are no winners in a rigged game. Those who profit through deceit EARN only the ill will of the populace and are obliged to watch their back at all times. Arrogance is the necessary response of the thief, belittling and insulting the victims of their crimes ~ then keeping them down economically to avoid retribution.
We mustn't lose sight of our REAL values: I was shocked when a census taker (from the Chamber of Commerce)asked the value of my home. It is my HOME! Homestead. It is not an investment commodity. Same with our country. Money cannot be the bottom line of our values. The game is now rigged to remove those real values to also reduce resistance to further degradation.
 
 
+19 # Michael_K 2011-10-26 13:03
The thing is, we don't need reforms, we already have laws against ALL the recent crimes committed by Wall Street and money-center banks. We simply have officials and politicians who REFUSE to enforce them, and pander to the public with proposals for "new laws" that they won't enforce either. We need prosecutors to be jailed when they refuse to prosecute. We need politicians to be forbidden to take any money at all from PACs or corporations.
 
 
+13 # universlman 2011-10-26 13:05
with our president claiming to be on our side and yet being unable to even half-help us out of this slump, and with no relief in sight from our useless congress preoccupied with their self serving "values," no cavalry will show up for the next election - they are shameless and clueless to think of denying us these rightful desperate protests
 
 
+15 # Smiley 2011-10-26 13:14
Great Article Matt,
The corruption and control of our government by the corrupt is out of control.
I would like to point out that there are some of us who, although we do not envy or hate the rich, don't have much respect for them either. If you have way more than you need when others in your tribe or country are hurting for necessities, it doesn't say much for your character.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2011-10-27 05:16
Nothing worse the the brain free money inhabiting the Hamptons each summer!
 
 
+15 # 22dragon 2011-10-26 14:31
Who envies who?
The protesters are demonstrating peacefully.
The rich are crushing heads.
The police are not rich, but they work on behalf of the rich, and you can see the hate in their eyes when the confront a protester.
The police have become the hired guns of the new feudal barons, the corporations
 
 
+5 # RLF 2011-10-27 05:17
I haven't heard progressive pols moveing to take away police financing if there is violence.
 
 
-8 # Robt Eagle 2011-10-26 14:33
Michael_ K, Read "Injustice" it is exactly what you are talking about, except it is not enforcing voter regulations so that Obama and his "enforcer" Eric Holder get away with fraud so Obama can be re-elected. J Christian Adams has written an incredible account of what is so screwed up in the federal government right now: not enforcing the current laws.
 
 
+1 # Ken Hall 2011-10-29 09:53
There is a lot of fraud in our elections, it is the conservative hacking of electronic voting machines that was so obvious in the 2004 election. Exit polls showed Kerry with a majority in Ohio, but somehow Bushco came out on top. Could it be because the CEO of Diebold promised to, and I'm quoting here, "...deliver the vote for Bush."? The person allegedly in charge of the hacking was killed in the crash of his private plane a week before he was to testify to congress. Convenient coincidence...
 
 
+4 # D12345 2011-10-26 14:44
Great great article....!!!
 
 
+12 # Buddha 2011-10-26 14:57
Besides all the great points laid out by Matt in this article, and the great video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wK1MOMKZ8BI

What is REALLY getting my goat is that Americans are not being allowed to express their 1st Amendment rights (and obligation) to protest and peaceably assemble. Anybody see anything in the text of the 1st Amendment that limits WHEN protests can happen, how long they can continue, etc? I certainly don't.
 
 
+13 # SouthBrun 2011-10-26 15:11
If President Obama found a cure for the common cold, the Republicans led by Mitch "Protect The Rich" McConnell would vote against it.
 
 
+15 # pernsey 2011-10-26 16:03
Cheating is rewarded, while the OWS protesters are following the law and they are getting arrested. This makes no sense to me, if we did what these big banks are doing we would be nailed to the wall...they are rewarded with trillions in cash. What gives...the rich are above the law, while us common citizens that pay our taxes get chucked into jail for having a peaceful protest. Tell me how this makes sense?
 
 
+4 # Doubter 2011-10-27 14:10
Of course it does when you consider who owns the law.
 
 
+7 # elmont 2011-10-26 20:06
Another reason Matt has become one of my very favorite political writers. This article is spot on.
 
 
+14 # Andrew Hansen 2011-10-27 04:29
This is the tipping point and Matt, as usual has it dead-on.

People don't despise bankers, they despise cheaters.

And when cheaters become hypocrites it turns to outrage.

And when hypocrites become totalitarians, saying 'eat cake', it turns to action.
 
 
-6 # cypress72 2011-10-27 11:31
Why does #OWS need a bank account anyway??
Isn't the basis of the movement the redistribution of wealth?? Those that have possession of the contributions should be distributing the money to all the demonstrators who heave braved the elements and the police for the last 5 weeks. If nothing else, they should be buying sleeping bags, tents, food, etc. What's the excuse for holding on to the money???
 
 
-3 # Tee 2011-10-27 12:30
Watch out for the sock puppet democrats and Obama with their weak jobs bill and weak student loan initiative.

This democratic administrations feet need to be held to the fire with the occupy wall street list of demands and at the planned occupy wall street convention coming you in 2012.

Obama is for sale. He thinks everyone else has a price like him. We must demand fairness and the law applied to everyone equally.

Go to www.gethemoneyout.com
 
 
+6 # karlarove 2011-10-27 12:41
The Occupy Movement is long over due. Now we have to Occupy Congress, because until we get our elected officials’ to work for US, instead of the corporations, Wall Street and their interests will keep doing what they are doing. While there has been fraud, and cheating, the repeal of the Glass Stegall Act led to the de-regulation of the banks. The NY Fed looking the other way and not overseeing what was happening before 2008 was a problem. And having former Goldman Sachs CEO's any where near the US Treasury is a BIG mistake. They look out for the interests of their friends, not the People of the United States. Did you know that in the bailout, American Express Travel Services petitioned to become a bank, and now has the same borrowing privileges at the big banks, at 0.25%. So did General Electric, General Motors Credit - GMAC, Discover Credit Cards, and many others. There is something VERY wrong with this picture, especially when hard working folks and small business can’t borrow money, and pay their taxes.
 
 
+7 # Bill Clements 2011-10-28 09:29
Matt Taibbi is simply one of only a scarce few journalists who I believe cuts through all the bullshit, deliberate obfuscation, simple-mindedne ss and superficiality to give us a clear, substantive analysis of the topic. This guy's a national treasure and has added significantly to my knowledge base. Thanks, Matt!
 
 
+2 # AMLLLLL 2011-10-28 19:08
Last time I looked, you cannot get a mortgage without the approval of the loan officer, the appraiser, the underwriter, etc. No one who applied for a mortgage could have gotten their loan without the cooperation of the lending institution, supposedly who approves applicants for financing, and whom applicants rely on for guidance.
 
 
+1 # orangeduncan 2011-10-30 12:51
I have a simple question - When the bailouts of the mortgage industry were awarded (AIG, etcetera), and these companies were essentially paid for their losses, why didn't the people who had lost their homes get their homes back? (or equivelant value of monies invested if home was resold) Essentially, why were only the mortgage companies bailed out, and not the people who had lost their homes. In this way, didn't the mortgage companies reaquire the property, which could be resold (or already was resold), and then effectively DOUBLE their monetary investment for a given period of time on the same property? I mean, the mortgage companies got paid (from bailouts), right? And didn't the taxes of the 99% pay for those bailouts? I'm just curious to see if I am missing something here.
 
 
+1 # Burkai 2011-10-31 10:30
What we need is an investigative report into the money and perks police departments, associations and the like are receiving from banks and Wall Street. To Protect and Serve: Corporations
www.OneTao.com
 

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