Sep 22, 2008

A Message from my Friendly Capitalist

I have this very good friend--been a registered Independent for years--an old business friend of mine. We worked together for years at a couple of firms, we live in the same town and get together much less than I would like but regularly.

He took a bit of an offense at me sending around the Bernie Sanders piece the other day:

Is this the beginning of the liberals denouncement of their involvement? If so--it is very frightening. Why politicize this mess? The facts are, Congress--including Sen Sanders-- has not performed its most important and fundamental responsibilities--oversight and bring forth updated bills and regulations that could have simply stopped this greed.

What he does not remember, but should, because he is an independent like Sanders, is that Sanders has tried to exercise the oversight and perform. He's chewed bureaucratic butts for years. However, he read Sanders' proposal for an alternative plan as an attempt to cast blame and politicize the financial mess. I didn't read it that way at all. My friend wants us to "stop this divisive behavior and work together NOW."

And I have to love him when he writes:

There will be plenty of time to direct blame and analyze who those persons and companies are who were behind this Greed--right Angelo? [A reference to one of the greedy guts guys, Angelo Mozilo, one of the founders of Countrywide Financial] When the dust settles let's get all of the profiteers (so called executives) and get the tax payers' money back and file criminal actions against the despicable bunch of thieves. Signed, your friendly capitalist.

I gotta tell you it's delightful to see a capitalist write like this. So I wrote back to my friendly capitalist as follows:

I don't agree here--Sanders is one of the few people who has been against the madness all the way through, and has been quashed or shoved aside. This seems to me to be more populist than partisan. He's been pissed at Dems as well. The problem, as you and I agreed the other day is that the Dems are culpable as well--it gives me the willies (pun intended) to see that Robert Rubin and Larry Summers are big Obama advisers NOW and they were the ones who pushed through the repeal of the Glass-Steagall constraints in the second Clinton term--a few days after which Rubin resigned and took over CitiCorp, and then proceeded to merge it with Travelers.

Or Joe Biden pushing for that miserable revision of the Bankruptcy codes when the information about 25-30 % of the bankruptcies were due to medical catastrophes. Or Phil Gramm, who snuck in the 1999 budget the Enron loophole and the big loophole in the 2000 budget (that Clinton signed) to allow for subprime derivatives and CDOs and CMOs to exist without regulation of any kind. That's Gramm as in McCain's choice for Treasury secretary! and he's still advising McCain under the table, from what I can gather. So he got shunned after his "Nation of Whiners" comment two months ago. He's been a big shot at USB (Bank of Switzerland) since he retired from the Senate. And guess who came knocking at the door last night to get money from the bailout plan? USB.

These guys are pirates, and that's why I like Independent Bernie Sanders. You told me you've been registered as an independent as well. Meet Bernie. Best Senator around.

I think Bernie Sanders was pissed because Paulson (who came from Goldman Sachs, just like Rubin, came to Congress with an arrogant proposal that had NO real accountability (6 month reports to congress) and no recognition that abuses needed correction.

I think that what Sanders is trying to do is get some leverage on the matter and attempt to figure out a way to get some recompense for the bailout.

It's systemic--and actually, a risk avoidance philosophy is to bear part of the blame: suck people in on no down payments and balloons and assure them that the prices will keep rising and then jettison the mortgages to third and fourth parties, slice and dice--and destroy the relationship between debtor and lender that really kept it all in check.

I wouldn't worry about blame games--the guys who are responsible will get their fannies spanked and be embarrassed in Congressional hearings and then go to Greenwich for the weekend cocktail party at their country estate.

Believe me, I'm at the point of lesser of two evils--as you well know--and have been there for a good number of months. My prime reason for going with Obama is the Supreme Court appointments and some semblance of deliberation about foreign policy. The way McCain has gone into his temper tantrums this week about firing Christopher Cox at the SEC (and I really don't think he even understands why Cox should have been fired to begin with) and clearly showed that he doesn't even know who the prime minister of Spain is or that Spain is in Europe, not the Western Hemisphere, does not give me confidence.

I researched that the Navy's health service down in Pensacola has had a continuing study of Vietnam POWs which indicates serious longevity and health impacts for all of them, way worse than the general population, and when you take into consideration that McCain's grandfather died at 63 and his dad at 70, it makes me think about those actuarial tables more than ever.

Obama in contrast, held off deliberately until he could see the details of the plan and consulted with his old grey guys--Paul Volcker and Warren Buffet among them, before he said anything. That contrast tell me a lot. early middle age over old farts with a temper any day.

I still don't think I will convince my friendly capitalist to vote for Obama.

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