Monday, September 15, 2008

The Sopranos, Bush, & collapse of Lehman Brothers

The collapse of Lehman Brothers made a story from a couple of weeks ago float to the surface: Lehman Brothers hired Jeb Bush as an "advisor."

This reminds me of how Tony Soprano ran protection rackets on construction sites. In addition to a cash pay off, the contractor was expected to provide a certain number of "no work" jobs, where his guys showed up but didn't have to do any work, and "no show" jobs, where they didn't even have to show up.

The purpose was to give Tony's henchmen some legitimate income to make it less obvious that they were full time thugs.

In exchange, the construction company avoids missing supplies or massively inflated prices on them, vandalism, strikes by certain unions, or even extra grief from building inspectors who are on the mafia payroll or whose bosses are.

When a corporation hires the wife, child, or brother of a politician, in this case the president of the United States. A business that hires someone in that capacity might find the investigations of regulators or even law enforcement suddenly becoming less aggressive or even going away--in this case, at least long enough to hide money off-shore and burn the books.

Donations are the more obvious way of doing it, as was the case with Charles Keating and the five senators (including presidential candidate John McCain) he bought to chase regulators away from finding out he was robbing his S &L by making loans to friends who wouldn't pay back the loan, but would figure out a way to cut the loot with him. Depositors were robbed since their money was what was loaned. Keating's S & L ended up costing taxpayers $3 billion for the portion of their deposits that were federally insured. Overall, the looting caused by deregulating S & L's cost taxpayers $125 billion minimum.

Charles Keating's scam is a lot like a bust out on the Sopranos. That's when they get their hooks in a business, use the business to buy things they have no intention of paying for, and sell them for 100% profit, run up the credit cards, and give all the proceeds of the business to their friends and not employees, and once the business is bankrupt, sell everything in the store and the fixtures. It is done in such a way that the Sopranos are not responsible for any of the debt, but the original owner is destroyed financially.

That is also what the Bush administration is doing to us.

They have run up a massive debt to transfer wealth to their corporate cronies in contracts in Iraq and "no work" weapons systems like missile defense. Once our credit is destroyed, they will tell us we need to privatize and sell off everything from our police forces to our education system, to the water from our tap.

Once they have drained everything of value from us, they will move to the Cayman Islands, Paraguay, Dubai, or simply build the walls around their gated communities that much higher and hire more Blackwater mercenaries to protect what they have stolen.

I wish this was just a dystopian, science fiction fantasy, but in fact, it is what we did to South America since the 1970's, starting with Pinochet in Chile, Russia and the former communist countries after the the fall of the Soviet Union (actually LOWERING life expectancy and the standard of live from Soviet times), and just before the turn of the century, we did to Asia, causing an economic meltdown there. It is called neoliberalism by those who invented it, but increasing called "the shock doctrine" by those on the Left who survey the damage.

None of this helps the middle and working class, but instead robs them to put money in the pockets of thugs in Brooks Brothers suits.

How many more times do they have to steal workers pensions, do the "bust out" on some financial institution like savings & loans or mortgage banks, or their attempted raid on social security, before we treat these guys like what they are: criminals.

More on Sopranos & Bushies

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