Romney, Obama, and the banks

One of the reasons why Mitt Romney has always been the favorite to win the Republican nomination is because he is the oligarchy’s choice, with close ties to all the major banks. He has obtained more money from the five big banks (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs) than all the other presidential candidates combined. Goldman Sachs especially has been a major benefactor to the Romney family, both personally and professionally.

Who comes second? President Obama. Hence whoever wins in November, these banks are assured of a friend in the White House and Goldman Sachs will continue to be the driving force behind US monetary policy with the next Secretary of the Treasury, like so many before, being either from that bank or, like the current occupant Timothy Geithner, subservient to that bank. The oligarchy does not like to leave things to chance. It desires elections in which they are always the winner whatever the outcome, which is why true democracy is perceived as their enemy.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    After I get home this afternoon I’m writing a longish comment about financial organizations and politics.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Just before Christmas I ran into an old acquaintance, a high-rank Wall Street broker, the kind of guy who knows everyone. He told me he had recently lunched with John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo Bank. My chum was describing the conversation with Stumpf and dropped this bombshell: “The reason companies aren’t hiring is because they’re worried about the extra cost of Obama’s health care reform.”

    Stunned silence from me.

    Because what can I really say to that, except…let them eat cake? Stumpf made $17.6 million in 2010--672 times what the average American takes home. And say what you will about Obamacare, for large companies already offering health benefits, it imposes pretty much zero costs and might even save money.

    John Paulson, a billionaire hedge fund manager, unctuously admonished Occupy protesters: “Instead of vilifying our most successful businesses, we should be supporting them and encouraging them to remain in New York City and continue to grow.” Recently financier David Moore, who, having been dressed down by a panhandler for proffering only a dollar, took to the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to bray about Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric: “The president’s incendiary message has now reached the streets. His complaints that rich people must ‘pay their fair share’ have now goaded some of our society’s most unfortunate.”

    Are all of the 1% so unmoored from the concerns of ordinary people? I’ve asked people in high finance how they feel about the Occupy protests. Some see them as socialists, but a more insightful contingent regards the movement as akin to Europe’s anti-austerity demonstrations: the understandable yet futile raging of people stranded by the shifting tides of the global economy.

    This is a sentiment worth interrogating a bit, for it’s a popular one among the Davos economists. Sorry, American and European masses: We know you liked secure jobs that paid a living wage and held the promise of a cat-food-free retirement. But, well, that was then. The things you used to make are made elsewhere; now the knowledge economy the pundits wax about has gone global too. You’re up against a lot of bright kids in Beijing, Bangalore and Brasilia, and know what? You can’t compete.

    There’s some truth to this. But let’s keep in mind that, globalization notwithstanding, the US economy is far wealthier now than it was a couple of decades ago--our GDP per capita is up 24% since 1995. The problem is not scarcity; it’s that a tiny number of players get rewarded no matter how badly they screw up. Recall that one of the things that gave Occupy Wall Street escape velocity was Bank of America’s decision to slap a $5-per-month fee onto everyone’s debit card--just as it handed a pair of executives $11 million golden parachutes.

    Joshua Brown, who blogs at The Reformed Broker, said:

    Let me give you a hint that will save you countless hours and millions of dollars spent on consultants and the public relations morons you keep on staff. This is why they hate you. You want to roll your eyes and make snide remarks about “dumb college kids” and “socialists?” Go ahead, but you’re missing the point. Because it is the small business owner who’s really been wronged here, not the fringe elements you mockingly dismiss. The business owner whose losses are not socialized like yours, the business owner without the government in his pocket, the business owner who is forced to play by the rules that you have paid to have written. He’s not a hippie, he’s not a Marxist…but he’s waking up, dummy.

    Waking up to what, exactly? In chronicling Occupy Wall Street, it struck us that the protesters, the passersby, and even the cops weren’t just pissed about being permanently gated off from the spoils of the über-rich. Oh no. What they were really pissed about is that the megawealthy and Washington have become so symbiotic as to be a single entity. Indeed, Occupy’s best move, as conservative blogger/financier Gregory Djerejian noted at, was “directing their ire squarely toward the real elites of the country, rather than their bought-and-paid marionettes sitting in Washington.” You didn’t have to spend long at the edge of Zuccotti Park before you heard the phrase Citizens United, as folks who’d come to see the camp from New Jersey, Texas, and Montana began to contemplate the connection between their anemic bank accounts and political decisions that line the pockets of those already most advantaged.

    Americans are not opposed to the rich getting richer. As John Steinbeck noted, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” But this prospect only satisfies so long as people believe that with luck and hard work, their ship, or at least their kids’ ship, may some day come in. In a system overrun by piracy--a system in which the pirates also, to stretch the metaphor, run the Navy--the dream becomes hard to sustain.

    When people feel screwed economically and see no redress politically, guess what happens? Boston shopkeepers dump tea in the harbor. Mobs roam the streets of 1863 New York City shouting, “There goes a $300 man!”--the amount wealthy draftees paid to send a poor kid to be cannon fodder in their stead. The Bonus Army encamps in Washington. The petulant wealthy would also do well to remember that part of what precipitated the French Revolution was the nobility’s réfus, in the face of desperate pleas from Louis XVI, to consider paying taxes at a time when large portions of the crushingly taxed citizenry were literally starving.

    The revolution that preceded that one--ours--sprang from the insight that a just government derives its power from the consent of the governed. And if the Occupy movement has accomplished nothing else, it’s provided a vehicle for many people to consider whether anyone actually bothered to obtain their consent before eliminating the basic safeguards of democracy. While the media and political professionals fixated on the movement’s lack of demands, they missed the real story. It wasn’t about demands; it was about diagnosis.

    The occupations provided a catalyst, but the most interesting conversations haven’t taken place in the camps. They’ve happened among the millions of people who found that kids in tents were quite effectively articulating their own sense of abandonment. What comes next is the question that should occupy us in 2012, and beyond.

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