[News] Glen Ford - Crisis Time for Wall Street's Creatures in Congress

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 1 11:59:02 EDT 2008


October 1 , 2008

Crisis Time for Wall Street's Creatures in Congress

The Last Hold Up


In their role as mercenaries in service of finance capital, 
three-fifths of Democrats joined one-third of Republicans in a 
(temporarily) failed heist of $700 billion of the people's funds - a 
nest-egg the public needs to hold onto to weather the unfolding 
collapse of the Lords of Capital. In the aftermath of Monday's bloody 
siege, it was difficult to tell who Wall Street guns-for-hire John 
McCain and Barack Obama hated most: each other, or the citizens who 
despite their outraged confusion had the presence of mind to bar the 
doors to the national treasury.

Understandably disoriented from having had to charge backwards - 
pretending to lead the people while simultaneously assaulting them - 
Obama peered across the field at the hastily-erected barricades that 
had broken Hank Paulson's Charge.  "I'm confident we're going to get 
there," said the frustrated thief-enabler, "but it's going to be rocky."
To paraphrase 
"What you mean WE, Obama-man?"

The Illinois senator and his pretend-opponents in the other business 
party just had their colluding asses kicked by the most motley, 
disorganized crew imaginable: the American public, who bombarded 
their legislators with threats of retaliation in November if they 
bowed to Wall Street's extortionist demands.

Never has Republican-Democratic co-subservience to finance capital 
been on such naked display. But then, "We the People" have never 
before been witness to the terminal unraveling of late-stage global 
finance capital. When the New York Times features no less than three 
articles declaring the nation's investment bankers ready for burial, 
as did last Sunday's paper, it is time for the Democrats, especially, 
to find another paymaster.

Black Caucus Split

Obama's party is wedded to Wall Street. At the local level the 
Democrats have long been the party of "developers" - the money bags 
who shape urban policy to fit the needs of corporations. These 
gentrifiers are the "Renaissance Men" that insist black politicians 
earn their campaign and graft payments by helping to expel their own 
constituents from the cities, so as to make them more congenial to 
business. Betrayal starts at home.  So it's not surprising to find 
Rep. Charles Rangel (NY), the corporate-loving Chairman of the House 
Ways and Means Committee, among the 18 members of the Congressional 
Black Caucus (CBC) to vote with the Bush-McCain-Obama Wall Street 
axis. Edolphus Towns (NY), Gregory Meeks (NY), and Artur Davis (AL) 
are also in their element, reeking as they do of corporate 
contributions. However, it is strange - and sad - to see Maxine 
Waters (CA), Gwen Moore (WI) and other relatively progressive members 
aligned with the rump end of the Black Caucus.

Among the slim, 21-member majority of the CBC that defied Speaker 
Nancy Pelosi's edicts, one finds more curious company. Voting 
alongside usually reliable progressives such as Barbara Lee (CA), 
John Conyers (MI), Donna Edwards (MD) and Bobby Scott (VA), are some 
of the Caucus's most rightwing members: William "Dollar Bill" 
Jefferson (LA) and David Scott (GA), once described as the "Worst 
Black Congressman" in the House. Panic makes strange bedfellows.
Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott summed up the "No" position: "There's no 
point in spending all this money on worthless assets" such as toxic 
mortgages. Detroit's Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said of the Paulson 
plan, "This helps the banks in their book of mortgages. It doesn't 
help the little person who needs it."

These are eminently good reasons to resist the bipartisan, 
flag-waving, hyper-ventilating and increasingly ill-looking Wall 
Street mob, now regrouping for another bum-rush of the Congress. 
However, the anxious thieves are only a 12-vote switch away from 
consummating the Greatest Theft Ever. Pelosi's wing of the Business 
Party is confident they can assemble the blandishments and threats to 
do the trick.

The Last Hold-up

The criminal-minded and mortally wounded Lords of Capital believed, 
as <http://www.counterpunch.org/martens09302008.html>Pam Martens has 
written, that they could "loot and collapse a 200-year old financial 
system and...be rewarded with a fresh $700 billion of public money to 
disperse among your cronies who aided and abetted in the collapse."

Or, as <http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney09292008.html>Mike Whitney puts it:

"...the $700 billion is just part of a massive 'pump and dump' scheme 
engineered with the tacit approval of the US Treasury and the Federal 
Reserve. Once the banksters have offloaded their fraudulent 
securities and crappy paper on Uncle Sam, they will do whatever they 
need to do to pad the bottom line and drive their stocks up. That 
means they will shovel capital into hard assets, foreign currencies, 
gold, interest rate swaps, carry trade swindles, and Swiss bank 
accounts. The notion that they will recapitalize so they can provide 
loans to US consumers and businesses in a slumping economy is a pipedream."

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his designated wrecking crew 
have but one objective: theft. Their own world is doomed - "The 
system is de-leveraging and nothing can stop it," says Whitney - so 
they are pulling off one last, mega-heist before it sinks beneath the waves.

The rest of us must fashion new institutions to perform the societal 
tasks that were purportedly the domain of the now-extinct investment 
bankers: to gather large amounts of capital for projects of social 
value - for example, a Marshall-type Plan for the cities, a 
nationwide infrastructure makeover, and fulfillment of the 70-year 
old federal commitment to provide truly affordable housing for 
everyone. And of course, jobs, jobs, jobs.

We have many other uses for that $700 billion - what Barack Obama 
called "our last bullet," although intending to make it a gift to 
mega-thieves - for instance, to provide relief to current and future 
homeowner (and rental) victims of the housing bubble that will take 
years to fully deflate, as prices (and rents) decrease to levels 
consistent with wages and other social factors.

In a perverse way, Henry Paulson and his co-conspirators have done 
the public a great favor. He has told us that, Yes, the federal 
government can come up with $700-plus billion, in an instant, if the 
health of the nation demands it. He has expanded the fiscal scope of 
the domestic political debate, so that it may encompass projects of 
transformational size. Never again can the corporate class speak of 
socially valuable projects being so large as to "break the bank" or 
the budget. Popular forces are now free to think large, too, without 
being ridiculed from the corporate Right.

The demise of finance capital's premiere institutions, and the brutal 
arrogance with which their servants moved to strip the commonweal of 
every squeezable drop of cash, has alerted vast sectors of the 
citizenry to the reality of capitalism-in-crisis in ways that no 
amount of Left agitation could have accomplished.

Technical public "ownership" of previously "private" institutions has 
been thrust upon us by the capitalists, themselves. But this is 
merely an opening for the great debates and struggles that must 
follow. Power does not devolve to "the people" by simple virtue of 
majority shares in failing institutions or even outright 
nationalization. And "the people" have no need of institutions that 
serve no purpose but as creatures of capital.

The second casualty of the current crisis, after the collapse of the 
financial sector, is surely the twin-party game of musical chairs 
that served to legitimize the rule of capital. The obscenity of a 
Democrat-Republican syndicate arrayed against the roaring, raging 
sentiments of citizens of all self-described political persuasions, 
cannot be erased from the collective national memory - even if 
congressional party leaders succeed in whipping their members into 
line, later this week.

When catastrophe hits, radicals must be ready. Recent events have 
proven Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente to be amazingly prescient 
in their belief that the Green Party can be - I emphasize can be - a 
vehicle for presenting and popularizing a truly transformational 
program for social change. (See McKinney 
Financial Crisis: Seize the Time!" BAR September 24.) McKinney and 
Clemente always intended that the Green Party become a nexus for the 
roiling social currents set in motion by the decomposition of ruling 
class institutions. The Democratic and Republican Parties, creatures 
of capital, are decomposing in full view, as witnessed by the events 
of this week. As the crisis deepens, the parties will crack - at a 
pace dictated by the increasing frequency of convulsions.

When we are confronted with the surreal spectacle of John McCain and 
Barack Obama attempting to destroy each other even as they rush to 
deliver nearly a trillion dollars to the same master, while the 
people scream at both of them to "Stop!" - we know that "change" is 
coming. But not the kind the Democrats or Republicans anticipate.

Glen Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report, where this 
article also appears. He can be contacted at 
<mailto:Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com>Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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