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Facing the Augean Stables

with no Hercules to clean them in a day, America must face its own culpability in the Wall St. cess pit

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

You'd think that if there was one thing Americans of every political stripe could agree on, based upon their publicly held positions, is Wall Street reform. Anybody with a shred of conscience could harbor small affections for greedy bastards who see nothing untoward in rewarding themselves for monumental incompetence when not slightly camouflaged outright theft, fraud, and deception. The stability and security of a nation, and especially this nation, is dependent upon its fiscal turgor and ballast. Willingly risking or jeopardizing that security isn't just something like treason, looked at a certain way and only under contrived circumstance. It is treason itself.

I speak as a devoted and respectful capitalist. I hold the invention of corporations brilliant, useful, and of great benefit to the world. The attendant hypocrisies surrounding modern international corporations are not excused by that regard. After all, if a corporation is a legal person, than it should be subject to all the benefits and penalties of other people, not sometimes excused from it, sometimes rewarded above others, sometimes penalized when others are not. You should not have it both ways under law, and interesting and fearful issues arise if corporations remain defined as they could be concerning taxes and other issues fellow citizens share with them. Like, say, the draft.

Long before Madoff and Goldman Sachs became such icons of revolting, clueless greed that they have totally supplanted Michael Douglass' monologue in the first Wall St. movie, American corporations have been as much a power in our foreign policies that their presence and execution of due diligence have long been an issue. Since the second World War, various policies of the US towards Latin America seem to solely involve getting various governments to provide monopoly status to US corporations. This, so that poverty stricken peasants could own, say, a top of the line John Deere tractor for which they had small ability to maintain or fuel, and thereby installing a cycle of debt and credit for spare parts that alienated the people from the US. But this mightily profited the big companies involved and provided them with a cover for the easily guilt-tripped American public, who could watch news reels of happy Mexican farmers and know their tax dollars were buying friendship and good will. With that success, we transferred it to the Middle East.

Yes. Well. When the future news reels showed those happy peasants later on, wearing various insignias of communist affiliation like shoulder patches or AK-47's, and showed those fields being plowed for opiate production for sale in the streets of Des Moines, various tales were constructed that deflected attention away from the American businesses which had not set hearts afluttering around the globe. There were many reasons for this animosity, but that one failed to get the coverage it deserves.

It's quite possible that the recent fall of Greek and Icelandic financial security alongside our own securities meltdown was due in large measure to their governments' willing choice of get rich quick schemes so obviously preposterous that tired clich├ęs regarding them go back centuries in both Greek and Norse mythology. But these were not entered into without knowledge of their citizens, who now feign ignorance. In the case of Greece, because they wanted the Olympics, which they could not remotely afford.

But, as with Bernie Madoff's willing victims here, they're hardly innocent and are subject to what is called claw back by the authorities here and Karma there. In a way, the expense of propping up some of our huge banks and companies in the last two years is also due penalty with interest for the direct and indirect benefits we've accrued by letting the Masters of the Universe use our money for a half century. Americans, who supposedly hate socialism, have benefited from cheap gasoline and power for decades, supported by regressive taxations. We've become obese from supported food production. The American military from the newest recruit to the head of huge corporations dependent upon national defense is a totally socialized system. We ignore the hypocrisy between our myths and our realities on numerous issues. The predatory pirates of Wall St., who have done both great good by raising huge fortunes for investment and invention and distribution, and who have also done great harm by raising huge fortunes and just keeping it, should be held accountable for their threats to the nation's stability and security.

But, stand they not alone under the sword. God forbid also that churches who've been fueling the get rich quick schemes mind sets should deservedly go under for investing in them. Heaven forefend that cackling elderly, hoping they finally pulled a fast one, are penalized for what a child would recognize as preposterous rates of return, utterly impossible if law was obeyed. We stand there with them.