An Open Appeal To Occupy Wall Street?
I can certainly empathize with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. While ex-Goldman guy/U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, fellow ex-Goldman guy/New York Fed President Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke worked diligently to use taxpayer money to bail out Goldman Sachs and some other 1 percenters, the rest of us were dealing with layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcies — with no bailouts in sight, just more circular rhetoric and broken promises.
In the midst of all this has emerged a war cry directed against capitalism itself. It is here that I feel some of my fellow 99 percenters may have been misled and have thus misdirected their fiery and very justified frustration.
It is not free-market capitalism itself that has betrayed us, but rather the cronyism and mercantilism that pervades Washington, D.C. In a private letter to Col. Mandell House written in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt admitted: “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson—and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of W[oodrow] W[ilson].”
In a truly capitalist country, where the government neither favors nor disfavors particular business interests, highly leveraged risk-takers like Goldman Sachs would have failed in 2008 along with Lehman Brothers, to be replaced by more scrupulous and prudent firms. Unfortunately, however, as FDR noted in 1933, the powers in Washington are beholden to the influence of certain special business interests — special in the sense that they are wealthy, entrenched and organized.