I agree with you, Rain. We have to worry not only about the people elected and who they think they are representing but also about the electorate, itself. I have just started Martin Davidson's The Perfect Nazi and what he writes about Germany between the world wars, when the Nazi party rose to power, have some eerie echoes in our present situation. Hitler was not at all out of sync with 'ordinary' Germans. In fact, in many significant ways he mirrored them perfectly. The question for us is how much do our public figures reflect the worst of our natures? And given the superficial and sensation seeking news media, how can we know? What I do know is that I see very little in our financial and political leaders that reflect my beliefs and values. You mentioned our current status as mercenary to the world and Donald Trump's grasping thieving greed. I can only agree.
More tidbits from that Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on the housing collapse. I wish we had a Hercules to clean out this Stygian stable but I don't see that anywhere. I just had an interesting thought, though--the finance industry is only one stall in our Stygian stable society. For the last week I have seen a teaser for a piece of investigative journalism concerning tax cheating. The reporter claims that 10% of Americans see nothing wrong with cheating on their taxes. Over the last 20 years I have read or listened to reports of rampant cheating on college campuses. One story claimed that as many as 25+% of college students cheated. Hardly a week goes by when the news media does not carry another story about a scam making the rounds, often for the umpteenth time. I don't think we have become a nation of grifters but what proportion of grifters do we need in our population to pervert our economy and society?
In another chapter in the Huffington Post coverage of the report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the report also lambastes the credit reporting agencies for acquiescing to the banks demands for better ratings on its 'fantasy investments' (my description) and then suddenly downgrading those investments creating a panic. This, to my mind, is just another stall in our stinking financial stable. It was a fraud. First the inflated ratings made it appear that the banks investments were more solid than they were and that the banks were, therefore, more solvent than they were. It undermines the notion that investors, or their agents, can find accurate information on which to base their decisions. We are supposed to be informed consumers of all things but who do you trust to provide true information?
MSNBC carried this NY Times story. It amazes me how spectacularly elaborate or inventive criminals can be. And this MSNBC story simply reinforces that conclusion.
Robert Reich has an interesting blog this morning that sparked a bit of discussion here. His first point is particularly on point: ten and twelve year budgets (as proposed by Paul Ryan and President Obama respectively) are nonsensical. And for a reason which he did not mention. A couple of bloggers commented on recent poll results which showed Americans are incredibly disenchanted with the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Tea Party in almost equal measure. The results, if they really reflect the mood of the electorate and if that mood remains as strong or even strengthens, indicate a very real possibility of the control of Congress shifting back to Democrats. That means that any budget agreed to in October may be undone by a new Congress in January. Under our current situation the longest time for which a budget could be almost guaranteed would be two years. If it were enacted in January following an election year for the period expiring in the January following the next election cycle. (And note that the fiscal year goes from October to October not January to January.) To see this in action, take a look at the Health Care Reform Act passed last year but threatened by a new Congress ideologically committed to either repealing it out right or to defunding it if an honest repeal isn't possible. But the Act itself isn't going to be fully implemented until 2014 (if it survives that long.)