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Mark Shields
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Outrage at Socialism for the Rich

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The anger rises. The fury rages at a new economic order that rules our lives. American capitalism has now been redefined to mean the freedom of the rich to reap enormous rewards if the risks they take do work out and — more importantly — if those risks do not work out, for everybody else to bail out the rich. In the American financial world, we have an economic hybrid: free enterprise for the working majority and socialism for the privileged rich.

Listen to the good news for Goldman Sachs: In 2008, to save that New York investment firm from collapse, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of the national government — underwritten by the tax dollars of waitresses, machinists and firefighters — came up with an emergency loan of $10 billion to keep Goldman afloat. But the insolence of wealth was not shaken. In that year when Goldman earned $2.3 billion — while tin-cupping $10 billion from the U.S. treasury — it still rewarded its top employees with bonuses of $4.8 billion.

To be fair, Goldman Sachs has since repaid with interest its $10 billion life-saving loan to the U.S. Citigroup, which eagerly welcomed $45 billion in taxpayer help in 2008 while simultaneously running up a company loss of $27.7 billion — shockingly — still honored its failed corporate leadership with $5.33 billion in bonuses. Citigroup, let it be noted, is one-third owned by U.S. taxpayers.

Don't overlook JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, which between them, paid out to their brass $5.694 billion more in bonuses than the two organizations made in profits — while at the same time they were seeking and accepting some $35 billion in transfusions from their fellow taxpayers.

The road to wealth is obviously using other people's money.

As that widely admired American philosopher Donald Trump once told us, "The point is that you can't be too greedy."

All of this took place while Americans' median income was falling $52,163 a year to $50,303, wiping out all the gains from the preceding decade and dropping to its lowest level since 1997, and the nation's unemployment rate is at its highest in 26 years.

Yesterday, 14,000 Americans lost their health insurance. Both today and again tomorrow, another 14,000 will suffer the loss of their health insurance. Every minute of this day, another seven American families — that means 424 each hour — will lose their homes to foreclosure. Unlike Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, two additional corporate welfare clients, these ordinary folks are obviously not "too big to fail."

And while a record 5.4 million citizens have been out of work for six months or more, the U.S. Senate — which obligingly rescued those bonus-addicted financial giants — has hesitated to even extend unemployment benefits to their fellow citizens.

Has official Washington somehow forgotten — in a society where too often we are what we do — just how cruel life can be when we are "doing nothing"?

"We have always known," the greatest American president of the 20th century told his fellow citizens, "that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics."

The question, some 70 years after Franklin Roosevelt made that statement, is do we agree and are we sufficiently outraged to rebel against taxpayer-subsidized socialism for the rich and a cold shoulder to our hurting brothers and sisters?

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

COPYRIGHT 2009 MARK SHIELDS



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
I am submitting the following as an OPED to Washpost, not that I have a prayer of having it published.
Someone needs to consider this perspective.

Subject: The Ignoble Prize for Journalism

Subject prize should be collectively awarded to all media for the idiotic comments recently read and heard on the subject of President Obama's having won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is probably the largest non-issue that has ever been addressed by the media.

This is from Wikipedia.
According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who:
“during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The closing date for nominations was, I believe, only a week or so after President Obama was inaugurated. It follows that the committee had to consider the achievements of the candidates “during the preceding year”.

The President's campaign was centered on foreign policy. His election was and is a fantastic move toward world peace, especially for a country like ours that has become more and more bellicose and less and less concerned with any considerations that do not serve our egocentricities.

The Peace Prize has been awarded to 96 individuals and 20 organizations since
its inception. Examination of that list discloses only a handful of people who actually accomplished anything that resulted in lasting peace between any countries, let alone the entire world.

During the period of Jan 1, 2008 to Jan.1, 2009, the period to be considered, I cannot think of anyone who has done more or worked any harder to achieve this goal. Barak Obama has committed his Presidency and his political future on creating an atmosphere in which lasting peace might be achieved. President Obama was awarded the Peace Prize because of his tireless efforts to bring about change in our foreign policy. The only venue he had was his candidacy for President. He used it to the fullest extent. That is the reason the honor was bestowed on him and no other.

I am truly shocked that someone has not picked up on these basic facts that, of course, nullify any and all criticism for the award. Any disagreement with the selection that has anything to do with Obama's performance as President becomes a non sequitur.

If there is any flaw at all it may be that the Award should be made to Mr. Obama, the man and not President Obama. Though the actual award may be during the time he is in office, the evaluation period was prior to his having taken office. That, I think, should be moot.
Thnaks,
Frank Parish
Lusby, Md.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Frank Parish
Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:46 PM
Sir;...Your article brings to mind the words attributed to Socrates that there will be justice in Athens when those not injured by injustice are as indignant as those who are... We are not indignant, even at our own ruin...Whatever this country feels; it is not outrage... Anger is an emotion which saps the energy of all who feel it even while it gives one the strength of ten.... Outrage would consume too much of the energy everyone now needs so deparately to survive...More than a few differences separate men from fish, and while men tend to look down on fish, they have one good quality that we lack...They fight when they are hooked... Even the most lethargic carp will bend a pole, but this is not true of humans... The more we are hooked the less we struggle... A future race, or our own children may some day look at the forms we have about us, our government, our laws, our economy, our society, and even our religion; and say that these were the devices which bound us, and left us robbed of our wealth and humanity...Why is it that so many societies have run themselves into ruin, poverty, and destruction??? Why have so few renewed themselves with revolution??? People must be shocked, and like the ancient Romans, we are beyond shock... We are still vicious... We want to share our pain with the world, and with our neighbors... But we cannot care more than cattle what our condition might be... Societies that revolt must be shocked, or excited into revolt... When people see their socieites tettering toward destruction they always hold on... When destruction is breaking all about them, then they react, and this reaction, multiplied by the square of the population is what makes revolutions...People hang onto their forms while their forms fail them... While their forms fail, their morale and their morals fail... Outrage would be the mark of a moral, and honorable person when injured...Since we do no better for others, our suffering is expected, and accepted, and deserved...If our economy justifies the social poison of greed, we cannot then complain that we have been injured by greed...We cannot invest in exploitation one day, and on the next say we have been swindled...So; while outrage, indignation, or anger would be a good sign; proof that we have souls and spines, we must accept that America is morose, depressed, and resigned...We complain, and we hate; but it is the multitude of victims, just like ourselves that ire our enmity... We hate losers and we hate ourselves, and we do not need Rush Limbaugh or his Klingon empire to point out our enemies...Disaster is a terrible thing for a healthy country, and it is sad that nothing short of disaster can mobilize change... When Congress bankrolled the banks, it put off the day of its destruction -and the day of our deliverance, but that day is coming which will test our national morals...Katrina should have brought down the government... Iraq and Afghanistan should have brought down the government... This last depression should bring down the government, and may when it hits full bottom... Swine flu should bring down the government if it progresses as it is likely to, killing a large portion of our population...If we curse God and die rather than fixing the forms that are killing us then we deserve this hell... Jefferson was right; that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evil are sufferable rather than right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed...Notice that Mr. J. said: right themselves... People and their forms go rotten together...When people can straighten themselves out it means their forms must change as well, to support a new moral relationship...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:00 AM
Re: Frank Parish;... I should have earned the peace prize for teaching a cat and a dog to share my space...Nature was on my side because the cat is a mooch, and the dog has enough sense to fear cats...The dog would never try to carry one home by its tail, even if he had hands... Mr. Obama is trying to carry the cat of Israel home by its tail... They hate him for it... He should get a prize, but not the prize he got...America's consolation at the fact we have been handed, that the man we have elected to make war has been officialy encouraged to seek peace, is that the last president won power without ability, and authority without responsibility, and promptly used both to weaken this country and leave us broke...War mongers and manufacturers, and ideologically minded idiots got us into our current conflicts...The demands of our deficit, blown out of all proportion by our war is used to excuse the denial of our rights to all of America... We not only have socialism for the rich... We have the socialism of poverty...More and more of us have to ride the bus, or take the train... More of us are walking, too poor to ride...If we look about us we see all sorts of socialism: Public hospitals, public streets, public schools, public sanitation and water treatment... We have socialism now, but it is the socialism of poverty...That is the best we will ever have unless we learn that before all our wealth is squandered, or blown away in unjusified wars, that we must take it back -if we will have the socialism of wealth...The government works for the rich... That is how it was designed, following a failed philosophy of public good... We may not think highly of Feudalism, or of Feudal knights from days of old, but there at least, the enjoyment of wealth was contingent upon the performance of a public good... Now the public does for the rich, and the government serves them, but the rich deny even the most basic obligation to support their society with taxes...If the rich refuse to make the sacrifices that our society demands of the poor, that every form of relationship demands from its members, then they are not of this society, and have cut themsselves out of the rights we need, and share....Thanks....Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:34 AM
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