Do The Hustle
We’re over-thinking this, Jedi Atrios wrote recently about the latest byzantine Geithner ploy to get our financial industry magically off the morgue table. It’s extremely difficult for little people Americans to figure out what on earth is going on with our crippled finance industry in a blizzard of acronyms, competing theories for why it happened or how to fix it, a lousy corporate media that usually hurts more than helps, and political loyalties that skew the individual frame of reference.
Lawyers play the simplicity game all the time: take a very complicated, nuanced scenario and distill the issue into a slam-bam single statement. If one can’t do it shut up, that inability must mean you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are shades of gray, purity is but a concept, yadda yadda yadda, but the value of stark simplicity is nonetheless vastly relevant.
Our banking and finance system self-destructed with malfeasance and greed 2002-2006. We’re trying to fix it by ignoring capitalism and enabling the bad financial actors who got us here with loans and cash.
It is a discouraging fact of our media environment that the first sentence needs any explanation at all. It wasn’t the horribly offensive feint that minority sub-prime loans caused this inferno, it wasn’t a global political/financial development, it wasn’t an act of nature nobody could have foreseen, our incredibly greedy financial gurus and banking wizards completely blew the risk in a number of ways and crashed their own houses.
All those Nobel prizes, all those track records of raking in billions, all those nerdy math titans, all those brilliant doctorates at the Fed, well, that vast glorious collection of platinum neurons of the best we could ever possess and implement launched a nuclear torpedo turd into our 21st century punchbowl. They so messed up, they don’t deserve a penny more in pay and they are not to be trusted. These are the human rules that are ruthlessly enforced to all that so vastly fail, the Nobel prizes, seven-figure salaries and $5,000 suits fresh from a private $30 million dollar ride will never change that.
They’re too big to fail, comes the instant answer, look what happened after Lehman Brothers bit it, we have to let the crooks who did this to us survive with looted Treasury funds by paying off European banks with taxpayer dollars, there is no alternative.
A brilliant portrayal to the human experience of deception occurs in The Color Of Money, when the veteran but extremely rusty pool shark Paul Newman is foolish enough to test the old waters in a wander of melancholy. He blew the risk and ran into a polished very current master performed so well by Forest Whitaker, but he wasn’t so out of it that he couldn’t stop himself from asking a devastatingly mature question as the knife inevitably, ruthlessly went in: “Are you hustling me?”
They’re too big to fail. Right there, that’s it, that’s the hustle in all this whirling confusion. Capitalism no longer matters, nor does common sense or fairness, just forget all that and let the losers survive and play. The rest of us never, ever get these rules in a viciously ruthless world of reality, but we have to.
Wrong answer. Capitalism runs on faith and trust and this inherently cannot work. Take over the failed banks in a searing light of day reality to open books and cough up the trillion dollar bill. Better that than this water torture of bailouts that will cost as much anyway.
The Fed doesn’t have the statutory authority to take over hedge funds, we can’t. Wrong answer. If in fact a trillion dollars are necessary to fix this mess pass the legislation to take over and regulate hedge funds and the like, make sure nobody is too big to fail again, then let public taxpayer funds flow in way that does not—of course—reward the nefarious infuriating fuckups who got us here, hello?
Still, we choose this current path, reassured by all those so very super serious folks on TV that although politically infuriating that this will work, it’s not a hustle, you’ve got to trust and believe us. We’d never, ever bail out your family with a dime but hundreds of billions are continually necessary for rich folks who failed.
Will it work and restore Finance to health? That’s the $6 trillion dollar question right now, but it’s all we have, an aching, dreaded growing awareness in the TARP and SEC acronym blizzard, just like the sad, increasingly desperate Paul Newman: are you hustling me?