I've never been big on watching sports. I did like Walter Payton, especially when he wore a suit on the news. Beauty, strength, grace, amazing feats of athletic prowess and a sweet personality. Wish he were around. Then maybe I'd watch a football game and some mainstream news now and then.
Neither was I too excited by political issues having to do with difficult-to- understand financial issues, like market or business regulation. Too much detail. I would rather have spent time painting my toe nails and filing down the calluses on my heels than to struggle to come to grips with some pronouncement from the Fed, SEC or some other confusing three letter agency I couldn't care less about.
I could, however, get excited about a given politician. I loved it when Bill Clinton played the sax. How could anyone not love him? And Obama? Whoa! Cute, young, athletic, smart, and thank GOD, a Democrat! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven because this was going to end the slavery legacy hanging over our otherwise great nation once and for all! (I know. We've got lots of blood on our hands from other ethnic groups too, but I digress.)
In 2008, Obama was my man. I had always voted Democrat, the party with a heart. To me, the Republicans were heartless business types who probably wouldn't know a sax from a fiddle, out to look after their rich and powerful pals and make life harder for the rest of us great unwashed. When George W. came in with the arch villain Dick Cheney, I revelled at having a Republican "vice" president with a permanent sneer of his face. He was sooo easy to hate. Still is. (I'm not alone in this...he's wanted for war crimes in several countries, and can't travel there.)
So I was proud not to have any Republican friends, except my parents, who weren't my friends anymore if we talked about politics. Well, not really politics or issues. We'd talk about the players, I mean, the politicians. They liked a guy and I was sure he was scum, and they thought the guy I was sure was smart, pure, and looking out for us was scum. So, we talked about other things. Like you do, with your family members or associates, unless you've already alienated them for good by saying a little too much about your team, I mean, your political party and their wonderful players, again, I mean politicians.
At any rate, like so many other things in life, dear reader, I have changed. I consider the current presidential race as no more relevant than football without Walter Payton's ballerina-like leaps over piles of entangled football players. (Please, don't write to me telling me how ignorant I am of the current crop of gifted football players. Any fool with ten seconds to get to know me could tell I am totally ignorant of that world. But, it doesn't impact my life, other than having to put up with readers like you. So if you do respond to this blog by ridiculing my pitifull sports-starved existence, I'll think you have missed my point altogether, and are actually unworthy of a counter reply. So there!)
Now I know, you're thinking, how could I say it doesn't matter to me who wins the White House? Don't I know anything? Well, that's probably close to the truth, vast as this universe is. However, I do know some things, and what bothers me is there aren't enough people who know what I know. In fact, what really, really bothers me, is that there aren't enough people who WANT to know. (This reminds me of a great website called wanttoknow.org, started by a guy who used to work as an interpreter in the White House. Now, he heard some pretty important things the rest of us were not privy to.)
This presidential election does not matter to me, because we won't ever hear these two handsome dudes talking about the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
Yes, Romney would cut the taxes of the rich, promising that those rich folks who get to keep their money will create wonderful jobs for us unwashed folks. Obama, on the other hand will increase taxes on the rich, and promise that all us unwashed folks will get that money somehow, and be up and running again in no time. Obama will win of course, because most of us are unwashed, and damnit, we want that money!
Anyway you slice it, it won't matter much in the long run. The elites will be funding the elections, and pretty much determining who gets far enough to run for high office in the first place. (Yes, this is that shadow government you hear nothing about) These elites will continue to be really, really rich, and when the government succeeds in raising their taxes, they'll move out of the country, create legal loopholes to get around the tax, or create some other convoluted financial scheme that would tie the average person's brain in knots. Do you really think they aren't smart enough to keep their ill-gotten gains? That's probably one of the reasons they have so much scorn for us. We're unbelievably gullible! We think we can outsmart them by taking a half hour out of every two or four years, and chosing candidate A or B in the voting booth! No wonder they'd rather hang around where the unwashed masses don't have memories of once being bathed, housed, and full of food that wasn't acquired with food stamps. And they're probably afraid of us. Who could blame them? I wouldn't want to meet someone who might possibly be catching onto the fact that I was part of an elite class which had been stealing from the general population in sinister and underhanded ways for years, and laughing all the way to and from the bank.
Anyway, I digress. These handsome and well-spoken gentlement vying for high office will not talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room because they don't need to, because, as I've made clear, most of the people who are going to vote don't see any gorilla, 800 pound or otherwise. But I do see it, so let me describe it to you.
In 1999, President Clinton signed a bill repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which had been in place since 1933 to protect Americans from losing their bank deposits to high-risk investments clever banking executives might want to take a chance on. Pretty tempting when you consider the massive potential profits and the fact that they're risking YOUR money, not THEIRS! Clinton said the repeal of Glass-Steagall didn't matter, as it wasn't really a relevant regulatory instrument anymore. After all, banking practices had changed alot since 1933.
Let's see now. It's 1999, and thanks to the congress and President Clinton, the bankers didn't have to worry about any pesky restraints on what they could do. Glass-Steagal was history. Citigroup could now go ahead and acquire Travellers Insurance. Well, actually they did that in 1998, but the head of the Federal Reserve said that's ok...it's illegal, but we'll give you a one year pass. Well, within that year, they repealed Glass-Steagal! What do you know? This was deregulation to end all deregulation, and I'm sorry to tell you, it was signed by our Democratic President, who was cool and played the sax no less! Would you be surprised to find out that Citigroup is a big political campaign funder?
1999. You'll recall, this was just about the time housing prices started going up, up, and away, fueled by those sub-prime loans. How great! Demand for housing was off the wall, and even thumbless carpenters were working. Finally bankers were friendly to people whom a year or two earlier they would have called security to remove from the premises. Hey friend, the water's fine. Jump in. We don't care if you're employed, semi-employed, flipping burgers, or picking quarters up off the sidewalk. We're your friend, and we'll give you money! In fact, all you need is a pulse, and we'll give you a home loan. No money down. And that's not all! You'll make money, just by signing your name! In a year, you could sell at a 10-15% profit!
Now, I hate to tell you this. But the bankers (ok, maybe not the nice bank employees showing you where to sign, I mean the CEO's, you know, the future heads of the US Treasury, and other high posts in the government) knew that housing prices could not continue to go up, up, and away. Trust me on this, dear reader. They knew it was a bubble, because they created it. And why, you might ask. Because it was a sure bet for them to make money on their newly invented Credit Default Swaps!
Tee, hee. They must have been so giddy, knowing they were going to clean up on you poor house-grubbing, fast profit grubbing suckers. (Their greed is good, but yours is disgusting.) They created the credit-default swaps just in time to make tons of money when the housing bubble popped. They are soooo smart! You lost your house, a lot of your wealth, you stopped being able to afford stuff, so a lot of businesses suffered and layed people off, builders, carpenters, car salesmen wanting to sell you that second car for your new two-car garage, musicians who got replaced by D-Jays, and on and on. The pretty people on the evening news didn't have the brains or guts to tell you about what was happening....probably because they were working for the guys in the corporations who own the news stations you think are there to tell you about what was going on in the world.
Yes, dear reader, you will most likely not hear your handsome and well-spoken presidential candidate mention Glass-Steagall, though there is a rising chorus of voices demanding that it, or something very much like it be passed into law to save us from the grip of a corrupt and powerful banking/corporate elite which need not concern itself too much with who gets elected. You see, as I've been trying to tell you these past few months, the country has been hi-jacked, and we are not going back to the good old days, or the not-so-good-but-a-hell-of-a-lot-better-than-now days. The best we can do right now, is open our minds and come together regardless of our party affiliation. The two party system is now a false divide. Time to go deeper, unite and get ready to help each other out when this house of cards we call the economy and financial system blows.
How did I come to this? Well, the story goes something like this. When Merrill Lynch lost half of my small IRA in the dot.com bust of March, 2000, I fired them, and started making my own investment decisions. I don't trust experts or authority the way most people do, and I don't like to do anything half way (this is a blessing and a curse). At any rate, I ventured into buying and selling stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. I read newsletters and websites and became conversant with a pretty, pretty shadowy money-makes-the-world-go- round universe hidden from most of my brothers and sisters here in the world of the great unwashed.
Yes, I'm still one of you great unwashed, or as George Carlin would say, a non-member of the club of insiders who don't give a rat's ass about us, the way- more-than 99%. And though I am one of you, I believe I may be just a bit less deluded. Why else would I dare to write these rather shocking blogs telling you these rather frightening things, after all? Would I do it if I thought I was more deluded than you? I don't blame you for being deluded, I might add. I'm certain I'm still deluded, but this is a journey, after all...not a destination.