In revisiting my past blogs, they all touch on one theme -- inequality. Whether it be the result of some wealthy donor's self-serving faux philanthropic dealings at the expense of the truly destitute, or of being totally helpless at the mercy of a rogue police officer who can snuff out a life on a whim; inequality comes in many forms.
What is amazing to me, especially after having just produced a film dealing with the subject, is a pervasive inequality that has truly been hiding in plain sight before everyday Americans for years, aided by virtually all of the mainstream popular media; the printing of money out of thin air by the Federal Reserve and given to the already rich.
Before you wince with that all too familiar knot in your gut at the mere mention of the one-percenters, take a minute to empathize, yes empathize with the wealthy (we'll call them Thurston Howell for short). We would likely take free money too--perhaps we might donate more to charity, or think that two or three private jets were more than enough--but we would take it.
For a little background, I am talking about Janet Yellen's Federal Reserve, a private institution owned by the bankers themselves, to whom Congress gave the power to control our money supply. This group of bankers, or banksters as presently known after no CEO has been jailed following the 2008 financial meltdown, basically print money out of thin air-- and place it in our society where they see fit to meet their so called dual mandate: to promote "maximum employment and stable prices". In case you are wondering, Thurston Howell doesn't even buy this bullshit (i.e. the financial professionals themselves don't even believe this to be true). "4.9% unemployment? Oh yeah, sure. Oh we won't count the 92.5 million schmucks that aren't employed. So all those folks that fell off the Unemployment Insurance rolls because they couldn't find employment in time? Not counted; The underemployed? Not counted; The mom working 40 hours a week earning such shitty wages that she needs SNAP benefits to feed her children? Not counted. Look Brangelina is getting divorced! Look Kim Kardashian wore lingerie outside! We are in a recovery (wink wink). Nothing is happening here folks...move along," says Thurston Powell as he takes the Fed's money.
But before I get to how this actually affects us beyond just making us pissed off and wishing the Professor was in charge of shit and not Thurston Howell, here is a little overview of what the Fed has been doing with AMERICAN money since 2009 totaling...now wait for it...over four trillion dollars; or 4,000 sets of one billion dollars; or 400,000 sets of one million dollars; or, $4,000,000,000,000! I can't just let this go yet (and I hope you won't either)! To put this into perspective, the government shutdown that caused gridlock and a national crisis shown on the front page of every newspaper in 2011 cost a measly $24 billion. Also by comparison, the entire student debt of every person in America totals only $1.2 trillion; that leaves enough for $10,000 of those Yellen Monopoly bucks to be put in every American man, woman, and child's--and baby's--pocket AFTER paying off everyone's student debt!
Simply put, the Fed pulled off a magic trick that would leave Houdini gasping. Janet Yellen and the Fed took the made-up money and bought Wall Street assets that would have otherwise crashed and gave money to Wall Street banks that would have otherwise gone bankrupt...with no strings attached.
Then because the money still had to go on the accounting books of the United States, and legally must be paid back with interest, they performed an even more magic-er trick: with the click of a mouse the Fed lowered the interest rate to virtually ZERO. So when you buy a car - you pay interest. When you charge something on your credit card - you pay interest. Have a mortgage - you pay interest. Have $4,000,000,000,000 given to you to fix the fuck up you fucked up in the first place - nah, you don't have to pay any interest. But, make sure you continue to give CEO Thurston Howell a multi-million-dollar bonus every year.
But please take note, this heist hiding in plain sight with the CNNs and The MSNBCs and The Views of the world completely silent on the topic, has interestingly caught populace traction from not surprisingly "the socialist' Bernie Sanders and mainstream's most hated candidate, Donald Trump, who have actually made the Fed an important issue in this election. While, Hillary Clinton says a candidate should not even comment on the Fed. (A side note, this is NOT an endorsement of Trump. You CAN take this as an endorsement of Bernie, but that does me little good as a head to the polls in a few weeks).
This moral hazard perpetrated by the Fed is akin to your child's basketball team losing by 30 points in the fourth quarter and the refs deciding to just change the score, have the team not only win the game, but then use that victory to qualify the team for the state championships--and then brag what a great team they are!
Okay, so HOW DOES THIS AFFECT PEOPLE LIKE US?
First, the Fed basically killed the one way most Americans grow a nest egg for their families. Remember those things called savings accounts that used to pay solid interest rates that your grandmother had? Gone. Remember, they cut interest rates too near zero so your savings accounts earn nothing! Many people, including retirees, and younger workers used to have CD (Certificate of Deposit) accounts that paid around 9% every 6 months in the 1990's. That amounted to hundreds and thousands of dollars per year for millions of savers who used that money to pay real bills; the rate is now 0.84%
Second, millions of Americans can no longer obtain credit or get a loan. Public companies including banks who were laced with the Fed's free money for the "stated" purpose of spurring the economy with credit, loans and job creation, did a switcharoo and instead took this money and bought their own stocks with it and hoarded this cash and in a crazy twist, deposited their money back at the Fed who pays those entities interest on this money that came out of thin air from the Fed in the first place (yes, they earn interest to the tune of $7 billion in the last year alone)!
Third, it spoils the integrity of our country with a fundamental dishonesty that shocks the conscious of basic values and impacts the ability of people to improve their financial status, a key component of the "American Dream". We try to teach kids right from wrong, work hard, do the ethical thing and earn money...but a new generation is coming to age as our government just prints money to get us out of trouble. It is a farce. Our parents used to tell us that "money doesn't grow on trees", what do we tell our children when money is literally growing on printing machines whenever (and how much ever) Janet Yellen deems necessary?
As for the film mentioned above entitled "World's Not For Me", which won The Harlem Spotlight Best Narrative Short Award at the Harlem International Film Festival last week, and stars my husband Duke Ellington Orchestra alum Gregory Charles Royal (a little self-promotion here I know), it is about a jazz musician who wakes up in 2016 from a 1987 coma to find himself in a world he no longer recognizes. It addresses many moral hazards in a montage of historical events and over-the-top fantasy. They include topics such as the pervasive use of adult language during the family television hour, to famed white musicians Benny Goodman, Elvis Presley and Kenny G, being labeled "Kings" of their respective African American genres (King of Swing, King of Rock and Roll and King of Smooth Jazz respectively), to the central bankers including Fed chairwoman Yellen, Japan's Kuroda and the European Union's Draghi being put on trial at The Hague and sentenced to death for financial crimes against humanity.
While such an execution is completely symbolic, the sheer size of this inequality, with no end in sight, should be put to death and, yes Ms. Yellen, you should be ashamed. As for the rest of us, let's close radaronline - Brad and Angie's divorce will not affect us personally. Let's write the Clinton campaign and ask her to talk about the Fed. Let's pick up our phone, call our Congressperson, and demand action. Demand that our money policies help all of us - or at the very least that they aren't rigged to hurt us. And to Thurston Howell, let's put him on an unending three-hour tour of the plight of regular Americans and those suffering around the world.