Leverage and power: What’re You Gonna Do?

“What’re you gonna do?” How many times have you heard it? We look at the news. We see layoffs, foreclosures, and protests. We know the bankers let us down. We know they are stealing from us. We know our leaders have sold out, that they no longer represent us, that big business and corporations rule today. But, “What’re you gonna do?

This article from the Washington Post describes Steve Lerner’s plan to take on Wall Street. It’s interesting in it’s premise but flawed in it’s conclusion. His premise is that we need leverage over the bankers. I completely agree. They have gotten off entirely too easy from this whole financial meltdown. Most of them got to keep the money they made off their fraudulent and shady market manipulations. Credit default swaps, subprime mortgages, dishonest ratings on loans sold to investors and so on; all contributed to and caused the market meltdown. Blatant manipulations of the derivatives market added fuel to the fire. Now, we are left to clean up the mess. Lower tax incomes have resulted in layoffs and reduced public services. Wisconsin shows us that the power elite will be more than happy to balance their budgets on the backs of teachers, and by extension, children.

However, I can’t get behind the solution he proposes. Lerner is right that Wall St. hates uncertainty. As well, it could give a kind of satisfaction to enact deliberate defaults on loans that would hit JP Morgan right where it hurts. But wrecking the stock market is going to hammer all of us, even if we don’t own stocks. After all, we’ve already seen them wreck the stock market. What happened? Billions of tax dollars were given away, gifted to the banks so they could pay their bonuses and payrolls. No, deliberate defaults to drive down stocks and give losses to the bankers is completely misguided.

We need to exercise the real power that the people have and that the power elite will never have. We need to demand that government hold them accountable. We have to stop being mesmerized by the entertainment news and political theatre. The latest celebrity train wreck and the silly speeches by sold out politicians are just shiny objects to draw our attention. If the government as it stands will not protect us then we do what the people do. We recall them. We elect new governors who will act in our interest. We elect people who do not take donations from corporations. And we support them when the attacks come, which they will.

This will hit everyone where it hurts, but not the people. Our Constitution clearly states that we are the government and those we elect are our servants. Are they serving you? Do you feel protected? We should not fear the government. They should fear us. We get the government we deserve. We have to start reading and thinking and being critical. Not critical as in complaining, but critical as in questioning the sources and biases of information and reporters. Critical as in dedicated to finding out the truth and not taking what they feed us. This takes work. It takes dedication. And they are counting on us to not do it.

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