I have just finished reading a quite amazing piece in Vanity Fair: "Wall Street's Near Death Experience," by Andrew Ross.
An astonishing piece if only half of it's true, and I suspect much more than half is correct. It chronicles in a very personal way what happened with the key players as the markets were melting last fall. It sheds a harsh light on the absolute entanglement of Wall Street and the government. All the players in that story are still fully in charge under Obama and fully bonused out to boot. No changes whatsoever have hit their part of the world. Not one.
What is perhaps most chilling about Ross's piece is both how human these people are and how inhuman. They call themselves patriots at one point and it's such a strange term to use as they openly pilfer the US Treasury to sort out their own horrific mistakes. But I believe they believe they are patriots. I believe that Geithner, Paulson, Immult, Hoyt et al believe they were (and still are) doing the right thing. I believe they were (and are) in real pain, like humans are, like I find that I am when facing complex decisions.
They were familiar to me in Ross's article in every way as humans except that they were talking about billions and billions of dollars - lost, stolen, and found. Billions of dollars that they were trading for others and then - when that failed - taking from the taxpayers, demanding those lost and stolen billions from the taxpayers representatives (former - and now in many cases, again - players on Wall Street). They ultimately got those billions from our government.
Actually, they got trillions.
But nothing has changed in that system that lost those trillions because these guys are just humans like you and me. They failed then, as we too often fail. They're going to fail again soon because they didn't fix the engine, they just covered the car with a very expensive coat of paint and they're telling themselves - like they told themselves they were patriots - that the car can go back on the road and do 120 easy, that the Stock Market can go back over 10,000 again (thanks to all that taxpayers still unaccounted for cash) even as places like California sink into the sea for want of that cash.
Is this patriotism?
It's well worth reading this piece to experience that it was all about saving their faulty companies (and their own soft skins), not saving the United States. And I guess we aren't patriots either if we stand by as these frail and frightened humans continue to visit tyranny on this Republic that our forefathers set up with such skill, bravery and humanness.