Thursday, January 5, 2012

Media and Government are Both Failing Us

Here is Cenk Uygur relating recent discoveries that members of congress provided inside information to hedge fund managers. There hasn't been much media coverage on this. Cenk notes that the story originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, which one would think would have been enough to trigger follow-up stories, you know, the ones on the front page of every newspaper saying criminal investigations are under way.

Didn't happen. And that is the other story: media complacency. Even though the story has been broken, few have followed up and tried to learn more. How many people really learned of this story? Can there be a more blatant example of the corruption of our government? And has our media reached a point where this no longer seems to be especially newsworthy?

Cenk treats this as a breaking story, and it should be, but in reality it is another incremental move to complete oligarchy. The more it happens, the less people pay attention. Apparently not enough people, regardless of motivation, seem to think the story should be vigorously pursued.

David Sirota has a excellent analysis on why no one is investigating Wall Street, not specifically the insider trading info given to the hedgies, but the widely documented criminal behavior of the big banks.
When it comes to our government’s collective refusal to aggressively investigate — much less prosecute — Wall Street crime, one prevailing line of apologism implies that it’s all about resources. As the general fable goes, Wall Street is so sprawling and so lawyered up that public law enforcement agencies simply don’t have the resources to make sure justice is served, especially at a time of budget deficits. In this story, Wall Street is not simply too big to fail; it’s too big to even police.
Right, David; there are reasons why congress has underfunded watchdog agencies like the SEC, and it isn't because it cares about the budget deficits. And it is worth noting that the media did in fact cover the banker-induced recession reasonably well, at least for those of us who sought out appropriate media sources. Not hard to do, by the way if you have an Internet connection. Sirota's dismay is that Washington knew full well what had happened, in time we all knew, but that there is still almost no government action to hold the criminal class criminally liable.  Instead politicians direct their venom at the poor.
Tracking an individual example of this phenomenon, Matt Taibbi makes clear that it’s really difficult to overstate just how revealing this kind of thing is. Wall Street crooks who stole trillions of dollars are rewarded by the administration with additional trillions in bailouts. Meanwhile, those crooks’ now-impoverished victims — so poor they are on food stamps, mind you — are being targeted by the same administration for criminal investigation for allegedly making a few extra bucks on recycling empty bottles.
Our government is directing prosecutorial resources at food stamp recipients because they may have earned a few extra dollars from recycling bottles. Poor people are sent to jail while the wealthy pay fines and sign documents that allow for no admission of wrong-doing.

We could endlessly debate the extent to which President Obama or Democrats in congress contribute to Wall Street's special privileges. It should be clear to all that Republicans are the party of America's wealthiest. Never in recent history has a party so shamelessly shilled for the 1% while demonizing, ridiculing, and haranguing the poor and powerless. It is Republicans, it must be remembered, who continue to claim that unqualified home borrowers of modest means were to blame for derailing the economy.

Others will argue, incorrectly in my view, that there is no real difference between the two parties. These are cynical conclusions held by the intellectually lazy. Having said that, there is not as much difference between the two parties as I would like, or as much as there used to be. More than a few Democrats have shown a contemptible willingness to do the bidding of the investor class.

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