[Originally published -- and reprinted, here, without being updated with facts that show the government bailout of the financial services industry to be an even more sizable black hole of bullshit -- December 23, 2008.]
Financial-services firms are getting taxpayers' money to the tune of $700 billion. And then they're going to get more.
Why? Because some people took out mortgages that were designed, by the banks that supplied them, to be, eventually, unaffordable by the people that used them. And so these people, surprise of surprises, in fact did end up being unable to afford them. Stupid poor people with their stupid belief in the American Dream.
Banks were hemorrhaging money. To get the red ink off their books they, in very basic terms, sold these "bad" or "toxic" mortgages (in the parlance of our times) to financial-services firms. When these firms' books started gushing red like the elevator in "The Shining," they created an entirely new financial instrument that allowed them to sell bits and pieces of mortgages and on into things I won't discuss because I can't understand them.
Everything fell apart. So the Bush Administration and Congress acted with the speed of Hurricane Katrina to pass the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) -- $700 billion for the financial sector.
We're in Great Depression II. TARP provides the best example yet that for a half-century the US economic system has been, and continues to be, subsidized capitalism. Which makes one wonder if capitalism can work at all without being subsidized by governments -- by the tax dollars of the people abused by capitalists. Incompetence has been and will continue to be rewarded or punished based on a person or business's wealth. The less-fortunate must rely on governments that pass special laws to make charging 400 percent interest legal (payday loans).
To survive, 99.9 percent of us will have to work a lot harder, longer, and smarter at jobs we'll consider ourselves lucky to have or manage to get. These jobs will pay, adjusting for inflation, less than they did in 1980.
0.1 percent of Americans, their real wages having grown 497 percent in the past decades to an average of $1.7 million, will continue to invent new ways to screw the other 99.9 percent, cheek-to-cheek with a government as immoral and unethical as they are.