THE BLOG

Terrorists On Wall Street

03/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The newest terrorist plots are coming from the board rooms of financial corporations and the
staff meetings of the SEC and Federal Reserve. Those un-elected federal money brokers now hold center stage. Following years of specious preaching from evangelicals of the corporatist
faith, the Reagan and Clinton presidencies led this nation down the road of de-regulating
for-profit companies. Banks morphed into brokerages morphed into S&Ls morphed into complex
money-handlers that defy traditional definitions. All with minimal regulation and responsibility
beyond profit. Now they handle trillions of dollars and other currencies around the globe--in
deposits, investments, commodity futures, "debt instruments." We bought a whole lot of economic BS over the past two decades, now we're buying even more BS (Bear Stearns).

Talk about sick. Most ordinary Americans don't save enough for retirement. And now it's seen
that much of what they have "saved" in 401Ks is being handled by firms so shaken, so obviously
unreliable. Gee, too bad we didn't all get to shift our social security money into a 401K or
hedge fund over at B.S. Please note that not even a Republican President could now stand with
a straight face and argue to voters it's time to privatize social security. "W" may think military service, that he was somehow denied during Vietnam, is romantic and exciting. But not even "W" can pretend bankruptcy's fun. Especially not for wealthy folks in the investment business. Nobody really cares about $60K per year families losing their homes. But rich brokers? Now this is serious. We gotta do something, and we did. Thanks to all us taxpayers. Do you remember when we were asked to vote on bailing out all the irresponsible and dishonest financial houses? And how we all stood up in the town hall and said, "Let them eat cake. We'll pay." Then how it was debated in detail by Congress, on live TV. Oh...guess that's just another of my nightmares in time of nightmares.

Surely, the market will take care of bad investments, self-regulate over time. That was the Reagonomic mantra that Congress professed, then Bill Clinton nodded, and signed the fatal
financial de-reg law in 1998. But now we see that those in the de-regulated industry actually
need us taxpayers to take care of them. And we just did. It's another tranche of borrowed money the Fed will provide to back an attempt to salvage B.S.from imploding. So now the
free-market, de-reg corporatists are begging for help from the same electorate and government they have long belittled. Tell them to eat cake, I say. After all, it's the good faith and credit of
the American people that's being used to prop up the brilliant strategists and MBA whix kids of
Wall Street. Perhaps the little bears at B.S. will rise up and demolish the offices, behead the
CEO, enter the NYSE with pitch-forks? Nah, we'll bail 'em out, lest they suffer. Lest we uncover
even worse rot at the bottom of the financial barrel.

This is the latest in terror tactics: give me money or I blow my corporation up. Think of
these guys, and make no mistake, these corporations are generally run by wealthy white
males with a preponderance of MBAs among them.These guys now know the thrill, the power, of
being able to force government rescue when their scam goes south. Wall Street now has learned the suicide bomber approach to money: "Give me what I need or we all lose billions." And now we are tobe treated to the furious owners of Bear Stearns shares telling the Fed and its surrogate, JPMorgan, "we're not selling for a lousy $2 a share." What will the Federal Reserve's
counter-offer be? After all, it's NOT their money or retirement funds they're bidding with.

This is likely not the last of these bail-outs. We have a precedent. While the rest of the world
gapes, then pukes behind marble flower-pots in the temples of finance, the world's largest and
most influential economy teeters, the U.S. government snivels and begs foreign sovereign
funds for billions of laready devalued dollars. So now the American mythology of the brave, bold,
tough, competitive economy is revealed as just another MBA gut course in skin-the-taxpayer. Take the risk, Uncle Sam'll back us. The U.S. hasn't been this pathetic since Katrina.

Some changes the U.S. needs now: 1) Ban all MBAs from public and private employment. Put them on welfare. Might lead to some understanding of the role of the public sector.

Here's how Harvard* promises to nurture their larval stage MBA candidates: "A cornerstone for
any career...Change is the one thing you can expect with certainty. That's why we have
carefully crafted the MBA Curriculum to help you develop a capacity for analysis, assessment,
judgment, and action that you can exercise throughout the course of any career you choose to
pursue. Our commitment to general management has produced leaders across a spectrum of industries, roles, and responsibilities, from innovative entrepreneurial initiatives to corporate and
public-sector governance." Nothing about honesty or common good. You're an
MBA, go forth and prosper.

2) Use Homeland Security laws to wire-tap and eavesdrop on all accountants. Any found plotting
shady investment schemes or helping cover-up an Enron or B.S. style scam should be prosecuted under the Patriot Act. They're attacking the only part of America that's really sacred, the economy.

3) Impose non-English language lessons on all Americans so we can talk to the folks who are now
buying up our country at a double discount. You need to be able to talk to your landlord, right?
Real estate and stock prices are down, the dollar is down. Bargain buying is on. Did you know
that for a $500,000 investment in an American start-up anybody can become an American? We're selling permanent American residency. To
all eligible bidders. The anti-immigration crowd never mention that. That's less than 250,000
pounds, the price of half a studio apartment in London. Just over 300,000 euros or slightly more than a nice place on the coast of Cork. Forget the third home, buy your way into America, the finest spend-and-party country club since Nero's time. And I'm NOT drawing any parallel between Nero and anybody currently in the White House. Are you?

4) Prosecute for fraud all websites and financial gurus who've been saying for decades you should put your money, especially your 401K, into the stock market. Over the long-term, you can't lose, they assured us.

5) Regulate all private corporation bonuses to executives so they can only be paid five years
after the bonuses are "earned." By that time it should become clear whether the CEO, CFO, board of directors, et al. cooked the books or really did a bonus-worthy job.

6) Ban quarterly earnings reports from publicly-traded companies. Too short a time span. It encourages the self-defeating American tendency to forget yesterday and focus on phoney
plans for the future. And I'm still talking about business, not invading Muslim countries or
baseball's spring training.

7) Any politician suggesting privatization of any pension fund or retirement account should be
required to immediately put his or her entire life-savings and pension into some private
account, not guaranteed by the government. This is perhaps the most egregious hyprocrisy of the Congressional de-reg twerps: THEY face no risk on their federal pension that runs for all time, until death do us part.

8)De-couple executive compensation from stock grants, stock options, stock price. Pretending a
corporate director or manager is making decisions for the good of the corporation when millions of dollars can be made personally by cooking the books, crooking the books, not booking the crooks, scamming the board or hiring an accounting firm for millions to rubber-stamp the
numbers...does anybody really think this is an honest way to get good management? Why would any CEO whose grip on power is based on current stock price (camouflaged as "shareholder value") make a long-term wise decision if it postponed a pay-off? CEOs with charity in their hearts? Not for many MBA school you ever imagined. If anybody making over $200,000 wants to own stock in his or her own company? Buy it like anybody else. With cash. You don;t get to have insider information, power to alter company records and then get discounted or free stock. Stock doesn't create executive loyalty, it creates desire to jiggle the quarterly numbers.

So desperate financial terrorists are loose among us. hey hate us for any cash we have remaining. And Homeland Security, Social Security, SEC and Federal Reserve seem powerless to stop them. These terrorists buy and sell worthless securities with our money then we bail them out. They bid up prices on commodities while devaluing the dollar. They issue us credit cards we can't afford. These terrorists claim value on investments that they then value themselves. Anybody surprised there was no foreign company interested in Bear Stearns? Even at $2 per share the sale of BS (Bear Stearns in this case) is a put-up job funded by taxpayers. Don't expect the "free market" to free us from this unholy terror.

* I trust we all recall that Harvard is where our current American CEO and President got his MBA
and certification as a leader in governance.