If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you undoubtedly realize the passion I feel when it comes to our disappearing democracy. I've pretty much summed up the fundamental reason for most, if not all, of the problems that paralyze this republic. I've pointed out, adequately I hope, and have inferred that no matter the size of government, the same secretive and underlying manipulators will still control the reins of government.
Two years ago, Bloomberg News dropped a bombshell about how the American taxpayer, through Federal Reserve lending programs and guarantees, was being placed in the unenviable position of being the underwriter for over $9 trillion...yes, that's TRILLION...to the largest banks, investment houses, and multinational corporations in the world. Keep in mind, only the $787 billion stimulus legislation that became law early in 2009, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) signed into law in October of 2008, and the $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates enacted in early 2008 had been voted on by congress to that point.
These trillions of dollars were "off balance sheet" transactions. Where the money went, exactly to whom, for what, and with what assets held as collateral, remains a mystery to this day, at least to the public, and at least to then-U.S. Congressman Allan Grayson. At a hearing early last May, Federal Reserve Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman was questioned during testimony to account for the $9 trillion in off-balance sheet transactions (which comes to approximately $30,000 for each man, woman and child in the U.S.). After a lot of dancing and hemming-and-hawing, she answered that no one at the Federal Reserve knows or is keeping track of where the money has gone.
As Senator Bernie Sanders mentioned in an article early in December, "...the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed."
The great giveaway didn't end there. Prior to January 21, 2009, the day the current administration took over the "official" reigns of government, special loans and dispensation to other non-bank multinational corporations peaked at $348.2 billion. Among the beneficiaries were Toyota Motor Corp. ($4.6 billion), Harley-Davidson Inc. ($2.3 billion) and Verizon Communications Inc. ($1.5 billion). General Electric Company used the Fed as its own revolving charge account, tapping the Fed a dozen times ($16.1 billion). Supposedly, in its scramble to keep the economy from collapsing, the Fed created the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, or CPFF, which tried to ensure that banks and industrial companies had the short-term loans they needed to fund everyday operations. GE was the biggest recipient.
Bloomberg News brought a lawsuit against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to force the Board to reveal the identities of firms for which it has provided guarantees and won at the trial level. The Fed appealed the decision, and on August 27, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed to delay implementation of the ruling until Oct. 19 so that the Fed may appeal to the Supreme Court. Given the composition of the current high court, specifically the Gang of Five right-wing judicial outlaws who gave corporations unlimited influence over our elections just over one year ago, it's almost a sure bet that Bloomberg News will be on the losing end when a decision is handed down. As of today, a court date has not been scheduled.
But the fun didn't end there. Between October 27, 2008 and August 6, 2009 (well into the Obama "watch") the Fed spent $350 billion in taxpayer funds to save thirty-five foreign banks and multinational corporations. The thirty-five were UBS, Dexia SA, BNP Paribas, Barclays PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Commerzbank AG, Danske Bank A/S, ING Groep NV, WestLB, Handelsbanken, Deutsche Post AG, Erste Group Bank AG, NordLB, Free State of Bavaria, KBC, HSH Nordbank AG, Unicredit, HSBC Holdings PLC, DZ Bank AG, Republic of Korea Rabobank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Banco Espirito Santo SA, Bank of Nova Scotia, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd., Syngenta AG, Mitsui & Co Ltd., Bank of Montreal, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Shinhan Financial Group Co Ltd., Mitsubishi Corporation, Aegon NV, Royal Bank of Canada, and last, but not least, Sumitomo Corporation. Amazing, huh? Is there something wrong with this picture? The fact that our central bank -- supposedly having the power and chosen role to do so -- doled out billions of dollars to foreign banking institutions, is not only unconstitutional but may also be treasonous.
So the question, the "$9 trillion dollar question" to be exact, remains: Where did the money go, and why? What power, instilled by We the people, gave the Federal Reserve the right to loan and guarantee loans to...well, most of the largest banking institutions worldwide? And finally, the question needs to be asked: Who benefited? It certainly wasn't Main Street, U.S.A., was it? We, the People, ultimately came up the biggest loser.
Why do the American people, time and time again, allow themselves to be taken for the collective fool? Why is it, while tens-of-thousands have taken to the streets of major cities of Greece and France to protest government-imposed austerity programs, the real looters steal away virtually in the daylight, and while the cauldrons of revolution boil over in places such as Tunisia and Egypt, the American people continue to sit on their hands and hope...and pray...that a better day will be just down the road? Is our mindset so colonized, so propagandized, that we can't discern what is happening right in front of us?
Matt Taibbi explained it best in a piece about our peasant mentality: "You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish . . . can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters!" Mr. Taibbi's right.
Today, during the 202nd birthday celebration of probably this country's finest president, we're reminded of just how great a leader Abraham Lincoln was. He warned us about the reign of corporate power and the corruption in high places that would follow, and he correctly saw that the moneyed interests would perpetuate its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, fleecing our treasure and stealing our republic. Chris Hedges, in last Sunday's column articulating the way empire thrives and prospers, said "All centralized power, once restraints and regulations are abolished, once it is no longer accountable to citizens, knows no limit to internal and external plunder. The corporate state, which has emasculated our government, is creating a new form of feudalism, a world of masters and serfs. It speaks to those who remain in a state of self-delusion in the comforting and familiar language of liberty, freedom, prosperity and electoral democracy."
Mr. Lincoln foretold all this, and it's my opinion that's the true reason he lost his life to a "lone assassin's" bullet. Those in position, who stand for We the People, who speak out against corporate power and domination, all too frequently do.