Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

For people who like scary stories

Gather 'round, kids, 'cause Kevin Drum has a tale to tell:

This is a story about politics. It's about how Congress and the president and the Federal Reserve were persuaded to let all this happen in the first place. In other words, it's about the finance lobby -- the people who, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) put it last April, even after nearly destroying the world are "still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

But it's also about something even bigger. It's about the way that lobby -- with the eager support of a resurgent conservative movement and a handful of powerful backers -- was able to fundamentally change the way we think about the world. Call it a virus. Call it a meme. Call it the power of a big idea. Whatever you call it, for three decades they had us convinced that the success of the financial sector should be measured not by how well it provides financial services to actual consumers and corporations, but by how effectively financial firms make money for themselves. It sounds crazy when you put it that way, but stripped to its bones, that's what they pulled off.

Sounds spooky, huh? It gets worse.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 7, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Klein smackdown watch: health-care and wages
Next: The excise tax and its critics

Comments

"they had us convinced that the success of the financial sector should be measured not by how well it provides financial services to actual consumers and corporations, but by how effectively financial firms make money for themselves"

Uh, welcome to the United States. Substitute any sector you want for "financial" and you'll get the same statement. We're not in business to make ___, we're in business to make money.

Posted by: ostap666 | January 7, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

It's an excellent article, and what it makes clear is that without real campaign finance reform (not the joke that Obama blew away) there is no hope for reform of the finance industry. For that matter it accounts for the industry friendly, people unfriendly Senate health care "reform" bill.

As mentioned in the article the finance industry made $475 million in political "contributions" in 2008 alone (health care was #2 at $167 million). Anyone with common sense can see these "contributions" for what they are - bribes.

Real campaign finance contribution is possible, in spite of the Supreme Court's bizarre interpretation that bribery = free speech. Arizona, Maine and several other states have done it. Without this on the federal level, there's no hope for real reform in any issue that involves moneyed interests.

Posted by: alex50 | January 7, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree, it's a wonderfully written article, beautifully clear, it's one you can send to your friends because it explains so much about why the working taxpayers have been feeling so short-changed in recent decades.

But how to win this war, surrounded by thieves on all sides? How do we reform our representatives? How exactly do we pass campaign finance reform?

On occasion I despair.

Posted by: rosshunter | January 7, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Also agree, fantastic article suitable for forwarding to all I know. Problem is, most likely they won't read it, let alone email their Congressional reps, or take to the streets in protest.

And that's part of the problem. It's hard to stay informed and take political action when you're busy just trying to make ends meet and survive.

And the banksters and their pawns in the WH and Congress know this only too well.

Definitely support campaign finance reform.


@rosshunter:

I, too, despair. Unfortunately more often than occasionally.

Posted by: onewing1 | January 7, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

rosshunter, onewing1:

If, like I, you lack the time for torches and pitchforks, one small thing you can do is point out the obvious at every opportunity. Large campaign contributions are, to use the correct plain English word, bribes. And the level of bribery is why both finance and health care reform are a joke. The only silver lining to these fiascoes are that they make the effect of the bribery more obvious than usual.

Congress and the president oppose policies that are wildly popular with the American people because congress and the president are being bribed. What kind of representative government is that?

Only after that fact is repeated endlessly, so that people recognize the obvious underlying problem, will we have any possibility of fixing it.

Posted by: alex50 | January 7, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Tim Geithner bails out AIG for the benefit of Goldman Sachs -- and that's the fault of the "conservative movement"? Ezra, all that shows is that you and Drum aren't serious about reform; it's just another political weapon with which to reassign blame.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 8, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"Tim Geithner bails out AIG for the benefit of Goldman Sachs -- and that's the fault of the "conservative movement"? Ezra, all that shows is that you and Drum aren't serious about reform; it's just another political weapon with which to reassign blame."

Ezra thinks everything is the fault of the "conservative" movement. Perhaps Ezra should see how much money Obama, Frank and Dodd got from Wall Street bankers.

Posted by: kingstu01 | January 8, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company