Gilded Blowout

July 5, 2012

In this the day after our Independence Day, the world looks about the same from up here on California’s northern coast, although the real word of the day yesterday (via Urban Dictionary) was “Freedom Fondle” — The honor of being screened by the TSA at airport security.
Funny, but with a most-definite Orwellian feel.

And in this current experience of life in the nowadays, the fondle is not on the fondue.
In San Diego last night, the annual “Big Bay Boom” fireworks display went way-bust and lasted all of 15 seconds: An unknown glitch caused the fireworks to explode all at once, botching the show and bewildering spectators. Others fled into the night as four big balls lit up before their scheduled time, adding to the confusion.
An explosive metaphor for America, maybe?

(Illustration found here).

All a bust, and it appears the pieces are floating away.
From Robert Reich at The Nation and America’s new Gilded Age — how Republicans have become rich assholes:

But the real issue here isn’t Bain’s betting record.
It’s that Romney’s Bain is part of the same system as Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase, Jon Corzine’s MF Global and Lloyd Blankfein’s Goldman Sachs — a system that has turned much of the economy into a betting parlor that nearly imploded in 2008, destroying millions of jobs and devastating household incomes.
The winners in this system are top Wall Street executives and traders, private-equity managers and hedge-fund moguls, 
and the losers are most of the rest of us.
The system is largely responsible for the greatest concentration of the nation’s income and wealth at the very top since the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, with the richest 400 Americans owning as much as the bottom 150 million put together.
And these multimillionaires and billionaires are now actively buying the 2012 election — and with it, American democracy.
The biggest players in this system have, like Romney, made their profits placing big bets with other people’s money.
If the bets go well, the players make out like bandits.
If they go badly, the burden lands on average workers and taxpayers.
The 750 peo
ple at GS Technologies who lost their jobs thanks to a bad deal engineered by Romney’s Bain were a small foreshadowing of the 15 million who lost jobs after the cumulative dealmaking 
of the entire financial sector pushed the whole economy off a cliff.
And relative to the cost to taxpayers of bailing out Wall Street, Solyndra is a rounding error.

We’ve entered a new Gilded Age, of which Mitt Romney is the perfect reflection.
The original Gilded Age was a time of buoyant rich men with flashy white teeth, raging wealth and a measured disdain for anyone lacking those attributes, which was just about everyone else.
Romney looks and acts the part perfectly, offhandedly challenging a GOP primary opponent to a $10,000 bet and referring to his wife’s several Cadillacs.
Four years ago he paid $12 million for his fourth home, a 3,000-square-foot villa in La Jolla, California, with vaulted ceilings, five bathrooms, a pool, a Jacuzzi and unobstructed views of the Pacific.
Romney has filed plans to tear it down and replace it with a home four times bigger.

Just look at JP Morgan’s recent financial bullshit with a $9 billion bet that went badly — confronted by janitor Adriana Vasquez a couple of weeks ago on the low wages for cleaning people, sweet JP Morgan honcho Jamie Dimon was punk’d:

“Despite making billions last year, why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?” Vasquez asked, according to her union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
After hearing Vasquez out, Dimon responded, “Call my office.”
Then he left the room surrounded by a gaggle of reporters.

One wonders if Jamie did the phone thing with his hands, you know, little thumb and little finger splayed while mouthing, ‘Call me.’
Meanwhile, across the pond, Jamie’s brother-in-way-wealthy, Barclay’s former honcho Bob Diamond told UK’s Parliament there were more than a dozen fuck-ups at the bank, but HE was not among them: “The culture was absolutely opposite of anything that we wanted,” he said. “We are serious in Barclays that when people don’t behave they have to leave. We missed it here, we missed it with 14 people, and that’s wrong.”
Right, oh.

Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz put it dead-on in an interview with the UK’s Independent that way-too-much cash-on-hand corrupts.
Money quote:

In one of my earlier books I said, bankers weren’t born bad, for the most part.
They were often some of our best students.
But when you give people that much money, make it so easy to steal, it makes corruption easy.
Not everybody.
I don’t want to underestimate the value of improving the culture.
Better teaching of ethics — that has a role.
But the reality is that if you have enough temptation — ie you don’t solve the policy problem — then it will be corruption.

Stealing and lying is the root.
Maybe Romney, along with Dimon and Diamond (has a clownish sound, does it not, the DD Boys) should take a gander at the most wonderful cuttlefish, who can flip-flop, change color and lie all day long.
A look at New Scientist :

Cuttlefish are famed for their ability to change colour for communication purposes.
Male mourning cuttlefish (Sepia plangon) normally display pulsating stripes, whereas females are mottled.
But the males aren’t averse to a spot of cross-dressing, says Culum Brown of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
Brown’s team observed wild cuttlefish in Sydney harbour for six years.
Whenever a male was courting a female, and there was a rival male nearby, the courting male started lying.
He displayed male colours on the side facing the female, but female colours on the other side to dupe the rival and prevent him from interfering.
Males did not do this when there were two rivals present, presumably because it would be too difficult to deceive both of them.
That suggests the animals were trying to avoid being caught lying — something that requires a high level of social intelligence.
It’s not the first time cuttlefish have been seen using deceptive displays.
Male giant cuttlefish pretend to be female to sneak into other males’ harems.

WTF — the US Cuttlefish Congress!
We’re doomed!

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