The Most Important Video You Have Not Seen
Corruption has been on my mind a lot lately.
During the Iraqi war, I recall a news report about the $30 million reward offered for Uday and Qusay Hussein. The report focused on a couple of Iraqi gentleman, they may have been at a sidewalk cafe in Baghdad. An American reporter was doing a color piece. He wanted to portray the average Iraqi’s reaction to the reward payment which had been widely broadcast on Iraqi TV. The American policy intention was quite obvious; by promising a reward and then televising the delivery of that reward the Iraqis would see that the offer was genuine and they would be more inclined to turn in Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi figures to claim their own bounties. But the Iraqi gentlemen had a different response from the one anticipated. It was something like this, “He [the man that turned in Uday and Qusay] will not get the money. As soon as the cameras are turned off the guards will march him into the desert. They will shoot him and they will keep the money.” They said it with a fated certainty that I found striking – they really truly believed the man would meet the fate they described because in their country that fate was not a possibility but a likelihood. I remember wondering what it must be like to live in a country like that, where corruption was the normal expectation and their first and most likely response was one that most Americans would not have imagined as a possibility at all. But fast forward to 2008 and 2009, and it is hard not to see the corruption in this country.
The corruption in and of itself is disturbing to me. But what is more disturbing is that so many Americans cannot see it at all, even as it happens right in front of them. It’s as if they have been conditioned to recognize sensationalized corruption only. If a congressman uses campaign funds to buy cocaine and then gets caught on camera snorting it off a hooker’s ass . . . the people know that’s corruption. But what if it’s less subtle? What if a congressman, heavily funded by the financial industry, crams down an opposing viewpoint like Barney Frank and Friends did recently. Will the average American see the corruption there? Obviously not. Barney knows how and when to operate under the radar of a sleeping populace and docile media all the while collecting manila envelopes at his campaign office. The trouble with this is that when people cannot recognize corruption, it is not stopped. When it is not stopped it gets institutionalized like insider trading and collusion have been institutionalized on Wall Street. Cheating has become their cultural norm. They don’t even consider it cheating, they consider it reaping the benefits of “being connected” somehow attributed to “hard workd.”
There is nothing subtle about an industry ratio of six lobbyists for every congressman and senator in DC. But that is what the health care system maintains in plain sight of voters who fail to object. Failure to stop that corrupting influence has consequences; a conservative annual estimate of $30B in Medicare fraud, double digit inflation in health care and a system that will not stop an alcoholic doctor that juggles babies and drops them on the floor from practicing medicine. If the majority of voters lack the ability to recognize and object to the rather direct connection from lobbyist checkbooks to our legislators’ shitty laws, what happens if the corrupting influence is even harder to detect? Well, thanks to Goldman Sachs, you don’t have to wonder.
Apparently the level of control achieved through soft-bribery of campaign contributions and lobbyist influence was not enough for Goldman. They found a more subtle way to exert and expand their control over the tools in Washington DC. By getting former company officers appointed to high level government posts, they could influence policy more directly from the inside. The best part of all? They would do so while purporting to work for the public good. It was a bad intention, born in a lie, and wrapped in deceit.
I hope you will take the time to watch this video aboutBrooksley Born and her efforts to protect the public interest. As you watch the video, please keep in mind that Larry Summers and Rubin are both participants in the Obama White House.