Charles P. Pierce points at two articles that are must reads, if you want to keep up with Class War news from the front. Dave Sirota and Matt Taibbi have stories on what is a crime in progress, the determined effort to loot public worker pensions and blame it on the victims. The usual suspects are at it again: Wall Street grifters, crazy rich people, and the politicians who love them.
As Pierce puts it,
...simply, that there is no pile of money anywhere in the country, no matter how large or small, and no matter how vital to the people who were depending upon it, to which the grifters in the financial-services "industry" do not feel entitled as fuel for their unquenchable greed. They will destroy lives because they have contempt for those lives. They will wreck people because those people are wreckable, and they will do it laughing. Remember the Enron e-mails about the ginned-up California energy crisis? I do.I had a diary up the other day linking to Kevin Drum's analysis of what Austerity has done to this country, with material from Paul Krugman laying out how all the calls for cutting government spending and bringing down the deficit were never about helping the economy recover. It was all a smokescreen to cover dismantling the social safety net and making the world nicer for the 1%.
This latest story about the campaign to steal public pension funds is all the more infuriating when seen against the circus in D.C. of Republican crazies threatening to blow up the economy - if we don't let them loot it first. Ezra Klein had some damning quotes the other day that show just how surreal the world view is of these grifters. These are the people who wrecked the economy in 2008 - and then gave themselves bonuses when the government (using what was left of OUR money) bailed them out.
AIG's CEO Robert Benmosche — who came in to rescue the company after the 2008 financial crisis — told the Wall Street Journal that the outrage over the bonuses promised to AIG's members was just as bad as when white supremacists in the American South used to lynch African Americans:Or try these:
The uproar over bonuses "was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong."
Yes, enduring some public criticism for receiving multimillion-dollar bonuses after helping crash the global economy is a lot like being hanged from a tree by your neck until you die.
...There was supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis:If the latest financial fiasco in Washington is somehow settled with anything that 'reforms' entitlements as part of the deal, well it's pretty much game over in this country for anyone who isn't in the 1%. They've got it down to a formula now. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sirota summarizes how it works with pensions:
“Taxes are going to go up regardless. What I’m afraid of is, we shouldn’t punish any one group. Whether we’re punishing people who are wealthy,” he said. “New York is for everybody; it’s for the poor, it’s for the middle-class, it’s for the wealthy. We can’t punish any one group and chase them away. We – I mean, Hitler punished the Jews. We can’t have punishing the ‘2 percent group’ right now.”
Blackstone's chairman Steven Schwarzman had this to say:
“It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
The Corporate Bait-and-SwitchAs Taibbi sums it up:
The goals of the plot against pensions are both straightforward and deceptive. On the surface, the primary objective is to convert traditional defined-benefit pension funds that guarantee retirement income into riskier, costlier schemes that reduce benefits and income guarantees, and subject taxpayers and millions of workers’ retirement funds to Enron’s casino-style economics.
At the same time, waging a high-profile fight for such an objective also simultaneously helps achieve the conservative movement’s larger goal of protecting profligate corporate subsidies.
The bait-and-switch at work is simple: The plot forwards the illusion that state budget problems are driven by pension benefits rather than by the far more expensive and wasteful corporate subsidies that states have been doling out for years. That ends up 1) focusing state budget debates on benefit-slashing proposals, and therefore 2) downplaying proposals that would raise revenue to shore up existing retirement systems. The result is that the Pew-Arnold initiative at once helps the right’s ideological crusade against traditional pensions and helps billionaires and the business lobby preserve corporations’ huge state tax subsidies.
...states all over the country are claiming they not only need to abrogate legally binding contracts with state workers but also should seize retirement money from widows to finance years of illegal loans, giant fees to billionaires like Dan Loeb and billions in tax breaks to the Curt Schillings of the world. It ain't right. If someone has to tighten a belt or two, let's start there. If we've still got a problem after squaring those assholes away, that's something that can be discussed. But asking cops, firefighters and teachers to take the first hit for a crisis caused by reckless pols and thieves on Wall Street is low, even by American standards.Read 'em and weep.