WHY ARE WE SO RELUCTANT TO GET TO GRIPS WITH THE TRULY CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES OF FINANCIALISATION?
PARTLY, BECAUSE SUCH CORPORATIONS HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF CONTROL OVER US—AND WE ARE AFRAID.
Partly, because getting to grips with financialization takes some work—and a great many of us are intellectually lazy. We might (or might not) put in the hours at work—almost certainly disengaged (if the statistics are to be believed)—but that’s our limit.After that, we seek escape, distraction, and pleasure.
Taking the time—free time away from the job—to understand how we are being ripped off at just about every conceivable level by the financial industry seems too much like a stressful slog. And no salary is attached. And we deserve some relaxation time—don’t we?
The following is from a Robert Reich mailer.
People seem to forget that the Greek debt crisis—which is becoming a European and even possibly a world economic crisis—grew out of a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein.
Several years ago, Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt—and in the process almost doubled it. When the first debt deal was struck in 2001, Greece owed about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it had borrowed. Goldman then cooked up an off-the-books derivative for Greece that disguised the shortfall but increased the government's losses to 5.1 billion euros.
In 2005, the deal was restructured and the 5.1 billion euro debt was locked in. After that, Goldman and the rest of Wall Street pulled the global economy to its knees—whacking Greece even harder.
Undoubtedly, Greece suffers from years of corruption and tax avoidance by its wealthy. But Goldman Sachs isn't exactly innocent. It padded its profits by catastrophically leveraging up the global economy with secret, off-balance-sheet debt deals.
Did any of its executives ever go to jail? Of course not. They all got fat bonuses and promotions. Blankfein, now CEO, raked in $24 million in 2014 alone. Meanwhile, the people of Greece struggle to buy medicine and food.
Economists Thomas Piketty and Jeffrey Sachs also have weighed in, writing in The Nation that the results of European austerity in Greece have hit the vulnerable the worst—"40 percent of children now live in poverty, infant mortality is sky-rocketing and youth unemployment is close to 50 percent."1
Debt restructuring must be part of any solution for economic reforms in Greece. But instead of doing that, the European powers have made eleventh-hour, draconian demands: slash pensions, privatize even more core state functions, and attack unions and workers' collective bargaining rights.2
All of this is connected, folks, and the sooner we wise up to the fact the better. Much as our pension funds are ravaged through excessive fees, and our cities are tied into complex financial schemes at egregious costs, so are entire countries pillaged. Greece is such a one. There are, and will be, others.
We are dealing with predators—who need to be treated as such. Terrorism is a nuisance, but not the problem. Financialization certainly is.