Time to point fingers

People say that we should not be assigning blame right now, but they’re wrong.

Mustachioed Iraq War cheerleader and capitalism-at-all-costs New York Times columnist Thomas L. FriedmanâÄôs latest op-ed, entitled âÄúAre We Home Alone?âÄù calls on government officials to act âÄúlarger than the moment,âÄù to provide its ailing, apparently infantile country with âÄúinspirational leadership.âÄù The millionaire hack laments classically lamentable American mainstays like partisanship and politics as usual and the publicâÄôs distaste for the nightly news. He talks about the need to stop vilifying public figures and italicizes the words our country in a way that connotes those suicide-inducing âÄúThis is our country!âÄù Chevy commercials. This guy even wants the Big O to deliver a fireside chat, F. Delano-style, to bolster the olâÄô national spirit. FriedmanâÄôs op-ed, in addition to being a blind rallying cry for little Timmy GeithnerâÄôs zillion dollar toxic assets plan, calls for an end to the finger-pointing, the he-said/she-said, the argument that this whole mess is âÄúthe other guyâÄôs fault,âÄù in favor of a more forward-looking, adult discourse that yields a solution to the depression without vilifying anyone or assigning blame. The idea that this is no time for finger pointing is echoed by a growing number of public and private figures, including a (beloved) friend of mine as we watched Jon Stewart undress CNBCâÄôs Jim Cramer on the “Daily Show.” But isnâÄôt now precisely the time to point fingers? IsnâÄôt âÄúdonâÄôt point fingersâÄù the same line Bush gave us as he buried more and more dollars and bodies into the Iraqi desert? ShouldnâÄôt we be assigning blame to the money-addicted bankers who effectively led the American people, blindfolded and ignorant, to financial slaughter? ShouldnâÄôt we point a long dirty digit toward the crooked conservative lawmakers who gutted, shredded and burned any preexisting regulatory measures that would have prevented these bankers from gambling billions like coked-out Atlantic City pimps on a Saturday night? This isnâÄôt time to be constructive. Why not wait to reconstruct the financial industry until we identify exactly who and what brought on its initial collapse? Because what is going on now is complete and utter bull crap. Right now, the same hackneyed gamblers who set us up for collapse are the ones reconstructing the financial sector. Hank Paulson, Geithner and their cronies are robbing the American taxpayers of trillions of dollars under the pretense that we have no idea how this market works, and giving it to their buddies in the same mega-firms for which they used to work. And here lies the center of the issue âÄî we really donâÄôt understand this stuff. We donâÄôt speak that language. As Matt Taibbi put it in his recent Rolling Stone article, which is itself an example of the type of finger-pointing we need before we start dulling out taxpayer cash, âÄúThere is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system âÄî transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.âÄù This is what allows a relatively small group of I-bankers and hedge-fund managers to lord over us without so much as a peep out of the ignorant masses. WeâÄôve been relegated back to the childrenâÄôs table, told to sit there and shut up while the grown-ups make decisions. And while weâÄôre sitting there, doodling absently, paralyzed by helplessness, tools like Thomas Friedman have the gall to call the very banks that gagged and raped the American people out of their hard-earned money, âÄúour ailing banks.âÄù What do you mean our banks? The former AEM majors who slither along in those banks are scheming as we speak, theyâÄôd slit your throat for a dime if a legislative loophole allowed it. DonâÄôt tell me to sacrifice for them. And donâÄôt tell me to pinch my nose and swallow as the financial goons who control the Treasury shove bailout after bailout for their millionaire buddies down my throat. Real people need help out there but our government has been doped, hijacked by a gang of brainy thugs who dazzle and intimidate us with a complex language we donâÄôt understand. They sit on a bottomless pit of cash reserved for only the rich, privileged high rollers who couldnâÄôt keep their fat little fingers out of the cookie jar. And those fat millionaires whose greed brought us down remain in shadows because of the myth that this isnâÄôt time to point fingers. In due time, these thugs will have their old companies back to full-health just in time to retake their old jobs and start the cycle all over again. And all the while we, the ignorant, breathe a sigh of relief, only a few short years away from relapsed depression, our faces preparing the same expression of shocked wonderment when the disaster cycle begins all over again. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Cornell University Daily Sun. Please send comments to [email protected]