Who knew that in addition to his prodigious talents as a Too Big To Fail banker, Jamie Dimon also had such great skills as a political PR guy? The Republicans have been struggling to come up with just the right slogan for the Romney-Ryan ticket. They had been strongly leaning toward "To the victor goes the spoils", since that phrase is such a great summary of both the Bain Capital philosophy and the Ryan budget, but had been afraid it didn't have quite enough edge to it. But now Dimon has nailed it for them. In an interview with New York Magazine that came out yesterday, Dimon unveiled the new slogan: "It's a free. F*cking. Country." The fact that he was saying this in reaction to the idea of new regulations on Wall Street bankers fits perfectly with Romney and Ryan's vision for America, since they are violently opposed to any regulations on Wall Street bankers or other big corporate interests.
Right before he unveiled the perfect new slogan for Romney-Ryan, Dimon was comparing having regulations in the banking industry to Soviet Communism, and was crying a river for all those poor small bankers out there who might be affected by them. There's a certain irony to all this given that Dimon's JPMorgan Chase bank, along with five other TBTF banks, overwhelmingly dominate the financial marketplace, controlling over two-thirds of the country's financial assets, and have received major market advantages over smaller independent banks and credit unions because they are too big to fail, but Dimon doesn't seem to get irony too well. Given how little regulation the big banks have received over the years, the massive bailouts the industry scored when they got themselves into trouble in 2008-9, and how easy policy-makers have been on them in spite of the damage done to the economy, the arrogance and hubris of talking about Soviet style government is pretty amazing. But then that fits quite well with Romney and Ryan, too.
The new "It's a free. F*cking. Country." slogan, especially coming from such a quintessential figure like Dimon delivering it, fits the Romney-Ryan values and worldview like a hand in a glove. They believe wealthy, powerful, and well-connected people like themselves should be free to do whatever they want to do, no matter the cost to the rest of society. Wreck the economy, destroy jobs, pump up financial bubbles and then make money off them collapsing, cheat clients, pollute and overheat the planet, cheat sick people out of their insurance, fraudulently foreclose on homes, use overseas slave labor: it's all okay, do what you will, because it is a free. F*cking. Country. And if you don't get rich in that kind of country, it is your own fault anyway -- you must not be smart enough or hard working enough or feral enough to make it. After all, to the victor goes the spoils.
This debate we are having in the 2012 election is about both economics and values. The economics don't work for the vast majority of the country, because in the kind of economic system we have developed over the last 3 decades there are only a few winners while the great majority are squeezed. With the kind of massively big companies that dominate industry after industry, small and medium sized businesses are going broke in record numbers and there is less successful entrepreneurship possible. Top executive salaries and bonuses squeeze the wages and benefits (if workers are lucky enough to still get any) of everyone else in these companies. Workers with low wages can't afford to buy anything, so the economy keeps slowing down. In this kind of system, a tiny percentage of people win big through financial speculation, inventing an important new technology, running one of the all-powerful incumbent corporations, being an incredibly successful athlete or artist, or winning the lottery. A few more do well because they work important jobs for the winners or sell them high end luxuries. And just about everyone else in this system gets the short end of the shaft. Yes, it is a Free. F*cking. Country. But the richer you are, the free-er you get.
As bad as the economics of the Dimon-Romney-Ryan worlview are are, the values are even worse. I grew up being taught that this country was built on the idea that we are all created equal, and the USA's system was built to be of, by, and for the people. I was taught to believe in the Golden Rule, and that kindness and generosity and looking out and helping others mattered more than how wealthy I got. I was raised in the spirit of what my religious parents called the beloved community, which meant that the sick and the elderly got visited and assisted when they were in need, that the little kids in the neighborhood got looked after by everyone in the neighborhood, that the small businesspeople in the neighborhood were generous when their neighbors hit hard times. Are those the kinds of values we would be better off having as our society's cornerstones than the values of letting the victors take the spoils and let the devil take the hindmost? Especially when the hindmost encompasses 98 or 99 percent of us, as it seems to in the world of Romney and Ryan and Jamie Dimon.
Thanks to Jamie Dimon, the Republicans now have their perfect slogan. For the rest of us, I hope we will remember our older values, the values that built a great democracy and the broadest, most prosperous middle class in all of history.