by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
October 16, 2008
DEBATING WHILE THE HOUSE BURNS
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The presidential debate Wednesday night never mentioned the words $2.2 trillion: that's how much the banks, brokerage and investment houses and insurance companies have so far taken from the American people's Treasury of the United States. Just for your edification, that was $7,333 for every single one of America's 300,000,000 people. Of course, the people can't be trusted with it. They just pay it.
I know the systemic problems of the banks, etc., have to do with abstruse, highly complex and widely un-understood technical matters, and I also understand that Congressional oversight, lender irresponsibility, our own bad habits with respect to credit and investment bank gambling brought this crisis about.
I didn't think Joe the Plumber had much to do with it. Charging $80 or $90 an hour for his wrench, pliers and Roto-Rooter was probably more responsible than his tax situation, but neither really go to the heart of today's global market crisis.
In the end, this is a crisis of freedom, although few see it that way. What is being ushered in is an era when a few banks control the entire world economy and all the politicians in it. They will have all the money, and if they choose not to pay it back, or pay it slowly, or pretend they paid it, or pay it on their terms, there will be little we can do. You can hardly afford to anger someone who has all your money safely stored in instruments you can't even spell, much less find.
Had we given it out to a thousand banks that would not be a problem. The collapse of big lenders would hurt on Wall Street, but on Main Street life would go on. Local banks would prosper; local control would flourish. Now, if you want to build a driveway, or a new road, or a school, you can go to the two or three banks that have all your money and try to strike a better deal among the three; that's not better than trying to strike a deal among 1,000. And it leaves you powerless, which is to say, ultimately, without freedom.
Joe the Plumber will not buy his boss's business unless it's at a very deep discount and his boss carries the loan himself. When you go shopping for a loan, you'll find, again ultimately, that the three big banks have fixed interest rates among themselves working with their junior partner, the elected government of the United States of America.
To what extent they actually represent the people of the United States of America, I do not know. They certainly have not represented us in handing out $2,200,000,000,000 ($2.2 trillion) to the likes of AIG, who won't sell you flood or coastal insurance, or JP Morgan Chase, whose credit card divisio0ns sometimes charge 32% interest and $35 late payment fees on $10 balances.
We do need a peaceful revolt in this country. It could start by Congress taking up the cause of ordinary people to restrain the banks, broaden their ownership and change their lending practices back to the '60s style of non-usorious interest rates and reasonable or no fees like those eat up $22 billion of debtors' money without reducing one cent of their balances. But it's too late.
I failed to wake you up. So did every editor in America. We let them walk out the door with all our money - which in this day and age is our power - and our freedom to choose. Congress is too divided - which is why George Washington warned us not to let political parties become the arbiters of political power in Congress - and too lacking in real intelligence to fix our system. On rare occasions a compelling voice of outrage and compassion will touch them. Where will they hear one? When?
Stop giving our money away, and get back all you can. Save it instead. Don't worry about banks, worry about people. If you have a thousand broke banks and 300 million rich people, you have nothing to worry about. But if you have three rich banks and 300,000,000 poor people, you have a lot to worry about.
Back our currency with something that is going to become more and more valuable every year as the coud of global warming floats over us: food. We have food. Cut the numbers we can't fathom to numbers we can, pennies. Back in the day, a penny meant a whole lot. "A cent is worth a bushel of corn or other commodity," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote on his famous essay, "On Politics," which is prefaced by a prophetic poem about "the Republican at home." He didn't mean the GOP, which then did not exist. Give the penny meaning again, and we give money and credit a meaning again..
Realistically, it would mean a revaluation of the "dollar," which is now a much-debated piece of paper. We would be removing two zeroes from every larger denomination. The trillions would become billions, and the billions millions, and the thousands hundreds, and the hundreds ones. Believe me, just on those two numbers the world's accountants would save billions. You could even describe the national debts in almost-imaginable terms.
But the best thing is that all Americans, at least for a while, would be rich. They could go to the store and get for a cent what they used to get for a dollar. A dollar would get them a hundred dollars worth of food. You see, you don't issue new cents; you just take zeroes out of the system and then back the currency with value that is measurable in commodities.
Would government, which coins the pennies, then own all the corn? Would agribusinesses be the giants of the world of finance? No. Government would set the basic price - a cent is worth one bushel of corn. The agribusinesses will have to sell a bushel for a penny, and that's what the city folk would pay for it. All other prices will be relative to that one price. A pair of shoes, made of leather produced from cows that eat grain and improved by the shoemaker, would cost a multiple, say two cents, or even less than a cent if they have holes in the soles like the ones in mine. Right now, our nation has a hole in its sole, if you get my drift.
There's no incentive for agribusinesses to hang onto it because there's no profit, only tax-free transfer. Their incentive to grow it, of course, is to have lots of cents to spend elsewhere. The city folk can't hoard it because there's no room. In any case, it's just a marker; government will not change the price. There will be a vast stability in the markets of the world grounded in the consumption of our daily bread.
Try suggesting that to some Republican or Democratic politician. You might as well be talking to a wall. They don't have the capacity to understand, and if they do, they don't have the capacity to act. In Congress, they - having given all our money away - belong wholly to the banks. The debate goes on as the house burns down.
It's enough to give me the willies.