It’s time to kill all the bankers

Posted on February 15, 2010


They’re doing it AGAIN.

With absurdly criminal tactics much like the ones that foisted the sub-prime mortgage crisis into the laps of Mister and Missus Taxpayer have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the Euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.

And here’s the fun part: That which is bad in Greece’s economic playground is like shards of glass in our sandbox.

As worries over Greece rattle world markets, records and interviews show that with Wall Street’s help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels. Even as the crisis was nearing the flashpoint, banks were searching for ways to help Greece forestall the day of reckoning — just like they did here in the U.S.  In early November — three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety — a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting.

“A team from Goldman Sachs …” That’s like saying “the epileptics in the priceless glassware display.”

The bankers, led by Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn, held out a financing instrument that would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards. There is a lot of anger out there over the financial crisis. The need to direct that anger at someone equivalent to a Bernie Madoff or a Lloyd C. Blankfein, is palpable. Golden West was a leader in option adjustable-rate mortgages, and as a result was an albatross around Wachovia, and we all know how well that worked out under the “expert guidance” of Wells Fargo and Citigroup. While the liars … er … sorry … the bankers … have argued that Golden West is not to blame for Wachovia’s woes, most analysts – and anyone with more than five functioning brain cells – would disagree.

The A.R.M. business and the fact that the bankers reaped $2 billion from the sale certainly makes them a justifiable target of critics.

Imagine that … bankers … making enormous profit from their failures and dismal decisions. It’s so … business as usual.

These people make the Beverly Hillbillies’ “Mister Drysdale” look like Oskar Schindler.

But putting only the bankers in our crosshairs when there are CEOs and CFOs who knowingly took foolish risks or misrepresented their crushing exposures to mortgages, as well as regulators who were asleep at the wheel, is vicious and unfair. We’ve been listening to this crap for years about lying, crooked bankers and corporate executives getting away with blatant fraud and theft. We’re almost numb to it now because we simply expect that “thief” goes hand-in-hand with the title of “banker.” The rich get rich, by theft and deceit, and we simply allow them to because they’re “the best and the brightest” and “we need their expertise at guiding the delicate ship of finance through trecherous waters.” This kind of cellophane apathy toward known and recognized thievery is what we’re simply used to hearing, and sadly, allowing.

Return on investment is paramount to successful fiscal strategy. Quantifying just how fast clients’ money can bring in more business is the key to survival. But when the entire foundation of that “business” is literally nothing more than adding a fourth walnut shell to the game, and the clients’ money turns out to be yours and mine – we quickly see that the only survival our “best and brightest” bankers care about is their own.

To paraphrase The Bard, “The first thing we do is kill all the bankers.” I don’t mean that in a funny, ha ha, sarcastic way. I mean that in an old-school, Wild Wild West, you-killed-my father-prepare-to-die, “it’s way past time that these bastards learned there are consequences for their actions” kind of way. I’m fairly certain that if two or three of these “respected leaders of the financial community” were head-capped from afar one morning while waddling toward their limousine, we’d see some radical and common-sense changes in American fiscal policy.

But such violence is officially outlawed in this country. When we get attacked, we’re supposed to ask what we did wrong. When we get bombed, we’re supposed to apologize. And when bankers screw us out of $1 trillion, we’re supposed to forgive them, and get over it, and maybe bend over again and to make easier for them the next time around, and smile with the knowledge that we’re being sodomized by “experts.”

This mentality these bankers have is the exact same as your worst Welfare stereotype, but with the unfathomable arrogance that they’re entitled to riches at the expense of society and the taxpayer. They are entitled to a fancy executive title regardless of whether they have the skills to actually do the job or not. They are entitled to limitless wealth because of their profession. They are entitled to the multiple homes, and the private jets, and the fleet of luxury cars, and they’re entitled for all of it to be paid for with somebody else’s money. Why do they have this sense of entitlement? Because we’ve allowed it, and justified their mindset, repeatedly.

These people should be forced to repay the $1 trillion tab; not when they’re making $100 million a year in bonuses, but when they have to work as a security guard, during the 3rd shift, for $8.50 an hour, in a warehouse they used to own.

But we will continue to be denied such justice and satisfaction because our equally entitlement-minded politicians will continue to bail out the robber barons because they are “too vital a component to the economy.”

But I’m telling you, the pot is boiling and the lid is screwed on tight. Bankers beware, if and when the revolution comes, it won’t be rabbit season, or duck season. It will be Mister Drysdale season.

Posted in: Errata