Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Will the wall fall?

Is it better to do a little or to do nothing until you can do a lot?
That's clearly the question Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was asking himself as the Senate walked in to decide on the Wall Street Reform bill.
He decided to wait.
The majority however, decided to do a little and pass what many are calling "the most-sweeping set of changes to America's financial regulatory system since the 1930s."
Of course, as politics is a debating game, much of the proposed legislation present in the bills infancy had been ripped off by the back-and-forthing (yes, that's a technical term) of our mature and distinguished two party system.
Obama said that this is the kind of "reform that will prevent the kind of shadowy deals that led to this crisis, reform that would never again put taxpayers on the hook for Wall Street's mistakes." I wish it were that simple. Critics of the bill, and realists in general make note of several shortcomings of the new bill. While many critics also tout the positives of even such a watered down reform bill, there are a few glaring issues citizens should be wary of.
First of all, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. I'm not just talking about the get rich quick schemes or penis enlargement, the same cynical judgement should be used when reading about life altering changes born in the stuffy, stagnant halls of congress.
As you may have noticed from my previous posts and any other information you may have dug up on your own, corporations are the governing party with the three branches the bejeweled figureheads of their crown. There's no way in hell or Helsinki that a bill strong enough to deflate corporate power would ever make it through the first security checkpoint in congress. Don't believe me? Take a look at this: the bill sets up a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inside the Federal Reserve that could write new rules to protect consumers from unfair or abusive practices in mortgages and credit cards. That would be a good deal if the Federal Reserve wasn't a fucking corporation! Here, I have an idea. Why don't we get BP to be in charge of the National Oil Commission? I'm sure they'd be equally as honest as the guys from the Fed. We're asking what is arguably the most powerful corporation in our country to police the other corporations? Right. Until the Fed is nationalized and brought under the yolk of the republic, I trust them about as much as I trust that shady character who hangs around the bus stop at 2am with a whisky bottle in his hand.
Furthermore, CNN reports that part of the negotiations led to Wall Street Banks still having the right to "get wiggle room to make limited risky bets, which is tougher than the current law, but weaker than earlier drafts." What exactly constitutes wiggle room? What does that translate to in billions of taxpayer dollars? Can we get a technical term, or is wiggle room all our current education system allows us to understand?
I do applaud the "little things" such as limiting Wall Streets' speculative bets on their accounts and ownership of hedge funds, along with an effort to curb the evil derivative, a favorite scapegoat of the financial crisis. My applause is bittersweet however, when I read comments from Wall Street cats such as: "“If you talk to anyone privately, there's a sigh of relief. It'll crimp the profit pool initially by 15-20%, but there's no breakup of any institution or onerous new taxes.” Another investment banker and ex-Treasury deputy shared that he felt the health care bill will affect its industry “exponentially more than this legislation is going to change Wall Street. It's not even close.”
So, is it better to do a little or wait till you can do more? Will this bill just give Wall Street all the more cocky brashness to do whatever the hell they want, or will it curb they haywire wild-west financial game of Russian Roulette?
We wait with baited breath.

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