Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
September 27, 2013
Mr. President: You have said often how savvy are some of the bankers intimately
involved in the last banking crisis, despite their banks being forced to rely on changes
in accounting rules (allowing them to list their worthless securities at purchase price
instead of market value) and taxpayer help to forestall bankruptcy. For example, after
Jamie Dimon the J P Morgan Chase CEO divulged a $2 billion loss last year, you
remarked he was 'one of the smartest bankers we got'.
True as it might be, but that $2 billion soon went up to $6 billion, and the bank's
gambling habits have not changed. How could they? Mr. Dimon was Sanford Weill's
fair-haired boy as they lobbied hard to repeal Glass-Steagall. To those who continue
to claim that the repeal was not the major cause of the banking crisis, there is only
one question: Could the crisis have happened if Glass-Steagall had still been in
effect? As the answer is a resounding no, one would think it would end the debate.
Not for banker lobbyists.
Mr. Dimon is again in the news as his bank has been hit with a $1 billion fine after it
admitted illegal activities. But wait there is more -- as they say in those infomercials --
for on the same day the bank also agreed to pay $389 million in penalties and
compensation in addition to the $309 million it had already paid for defrauding its
credit card customers. A bank robber holds up a bank taking the $2000 average
haul. If he gets caught, he faces a long prison sentence. But if you steal hundreds of
millions, you earn plaudits ...
Meanwhile, the bank is facing lawsuits with the potential to double the losses incurred
so far. And the Fed has put in trillions to shore up the balance sheets of these
banks. Who owns that debt? The taxpayer of course, who is likely to be squeezed
through eventual inflation, taxes, cuts in services, or all of the above.
The economy quite naturally is in the doldrums, and instead of leading the recovery
with continued expenditure on infrastructure, job training and job creation, the
government has become a docile observer relying on the Fed, which in turn is relying
on the banks to magically stimulate the economy.
What the government is actually doing is to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership
(TPP), which like NAFTA is guaranteed to ship more jobs overseas thereby
strengthening the bottom lines of companies. They had better develop markets
abroad at the same time because with all the good jobs gone, there will be no one to
buy their wares here. When they asked Henry Ford why he was paying the then
exorbitant sum of $5 per day to his workers, he replied, 'I want them to be able to buy
Such simple common sense seems to have deserted our captains of industry -- or
perhaps it has been overtaken by short-term thinking (Wall Street driven) and a dose
of unadulterated greed.