John McCain said during the campaign that he would stop wasteful spending in government by naming names and making people famous. Well, that's a pretty good idea. So, we've adopted it (call us bipartisan). Except we're going to apply it to the bankers who took our money.
On the same day, a Congressional report came out saying basically that we were exactly right. The Congressional watchdogs said that not only should Goldman not have gotten paid a hundred percent of their bets by the American taxpayer but that doing so " undermin[ed] the basic tenets of capitalism" and had a "poisonous effect on the marketplace."
People came from all over the country to this protest. Someone took a 24 hour bus ride from Minnesota to join us at the protest. Others flew in from Wisconsin and Illinois. Someone also took a train from Minnesota (maybe Al Franken is energizing the state to get them so active). People drove in from Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, etc. Somebody even came in from Switzerland.
Sam Seder, RJ Eskow, Michael Shure and I all spoke at the event. We had great media coverage, from MSNBC to Voice of America to Russia Today to the conservative website Townhall. Strong progressive organizations like Campaign for America's Future, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America all chipped in.
But it's time to take it to the next step. The DC protest was just the beginning. Now, we've started a wiki protest. We want your contributions, ideas and actions in getting the money back. People have already started to put up the names and pictures of all the people who work at Goldman Sachs on the website. We also have many of the addresses for their offices. But we need more info. Please help us build this wiki protest by going to this link and taking part.
In its first year, Wikipedia was actually run by experts in different fields. The scholars put up a grand total of 12 articles that year. When they opened it up to everyone to contribute, they had the world's largest encyclopedia by the end of the next year. We hope we can do the same here with our wiki protest. I am sure that all of you will come up with better ideas and more effective actions than we could on our own. This way we just might get our money back.
We just have one cardinal rule - nothing physical under any circumstances. We want to ask these people to give our money back but in a very civil and polite way. Anything else is unacceptable. Please go to their offices but don't go to their homes. No yelling, no crazy confrontations, just politely ask them to return the money.
Remember, they're real people, too. They're not some evil comic book character. They're simply acting on normal human instincts. There was great money to be made by duping our government and they took advantage. In fact, they were pretty smart to do it. It's not personal. We just want the money back and that's it.
One of my high school friends works at Goldman. He's a good guy but I put his name on the list. Why? It's not because I don't like him. It's because he made a smart bet with AIG, not with me or you. We had no business paying off that bet. That's not capitalism; that's not fair. As soon as we reverse that, then there is no further issue with Goldman. I don't dislike them; I just don't want to pay their bets with our money.
Lastly, remember what Tim Geithner said at the time and continues to say to this day. He said that if we hadn't paid Goldman and the other banks for the side bets they made with AIG that the whole world economy would have collapsed. Well, luckily we're not on the edge of disaster anymore. Goldman made $25 million a day - every day - last quarter. And that was the bare minimum. They made more than $100 million 60% of those days. They're not on the brink of extinction anymore. In fact, they're making record profits. That's a perfect time for them to return the American taxpayers' money.
This has to be an issue conservatives and liberals can agree on. So, everyone please join our wiki protest and let's figure out how to get that money back to its rightful owners - the American taxpayers.
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks