I still can’t tell if most “middle-class” Americans really understand what hit them, and why, when the economy tanked in 2008. Robert Scheer takes a crack at explaining the catastrophe with what seems to me the perfect metaphor. But then again, I used to work in Atlantic City:
The securitization of mortgages into collateralized debt obligations turned homes—the castles of so many average Americans—into gambling chips, and the fallout mainly hurt those who were not even in on the game. As The Wall Street Journal reported in February when [Mitt] Romney was campaigning in Nevada, the primary victims of foreclosure are those who had paid down their home loans, or worse yet owned homes outright, only to find that repossessions on their block destroyed the value of their investment.
The appalling thing is that this enormous mess did not have to happen. It is a man-made disaster, the result of capricious Wall Street bankers who have no regard for the national interest. Perhaps that is to be expected, but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process.
In the end, the perpetrators of this calamity have been rewarded, and their patsies, the ordinary folks who are supposed to matter in a democracy, have been cast overboard.
Good so far as it goes, but Scheer is pulling his punches. He notes that executives at the big banks are “capricious,” then professes to be shocked at the “inability” of politicians to “mount a challenge” to “unfettered greed.” As if the current crop of nationally known politicians in both major parties is any better than the banksters. If they were, they wouldn’t have allowed the banksters to turn the economy into a crap shoot.
Scheer, or his headline writer, also made a curiously optimistic assumption — that we’re “halfway through the lost decade.” What makes him think things will be any better five years from now if the banksters and corporations still run this country? What if we’re one-twentieth of the way through the lost century?
Scheer and other pundits need to speak a different language in order to get beyond complaints and into the realm of solutions. They could start by addressing a basic reality — it is ridiculous to expect any real change for the good so long as we’re at the mercy of a political system dominated by two parties, both owned by moneyed interests.