[Marxism] Matt Taibbi on the financial crisis

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 23 07:02:54 MDT 2009

The Big Takeover
The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How 
Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution


It's over — we're officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive 
being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a 
few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this 
country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury 
Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again 
going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying 
insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national 
decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of 
American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself 
chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a 
dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of 
the British Empire.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the 
largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 
billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more 
than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income 
for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a 
second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that 
America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat 
to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport 
to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and 
explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no 
mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held 
life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the 
national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was 
smaller than AIG's 2008 losses).

So it's time to admit it: We're fools, protagonists in a kind of 
gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity. And the worst 
part about it is that we're still in denial — we still think this is 
some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the 
group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the 
American Dream. When Geithner announced the new $30 billion bailout, the 
party line was that poor AIG was just a victim of a lot of shitty luck — 
bad year for business, you know, what with the financial crisis and all. 
Edward Liddy, the company's CEO, actually compared it to catching a 
cold: "The marketplace is a pretty crummy place to be right now," he 
said. "When the world catches pneumonia, we get it too." In a pathetic 
attempt at name-dropping, he even whined that AIG was being "consumed by 
the same issues that are driving house prices down and 401K statements 
down and Warren Buffet's investment portfolio down."

full: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover

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