Yesterday, I broadcast an email that started out as follows:
There’s not much more I can say other than this gets my vote for “Article of the Year” hands down. I promise that you’ll be doing yourself a great disfavor if you pass this one up.
Happy New Year,
Latest dispatch from the Follow-the-Money Department. . .
Here are some of the responses I received:
“Outstanding. As advertised.” — H.D.
“I knew it was bad but not that bad.” — J.R.
“I’d say it was the most demoralizing article of the year…” — E.B.
Here’s some of what Mr. Williamson had to say:
. . .If Wall Street has done pretty well by investing in Washington, the more despair-inducingly germane fact is that Washington has done pretty well by investing in Wall Street. A catalogue of recent congressional insider-trading, self-dealing, IPO shenanigans, and inexplicably good investment luck would fill an entire volume, and in fact it has: The book has the Tea Party–bait title Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison, by Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution. That’s a lot of title for a fairly slim book (176 pages of reportage, plus end notes), but, despite its relatively slender dimensions, it cost me an entire night’s sleep: I spent half the night reading it in a single sitting and the other half having nightmares about it. It’s the most offensive and disturbing thing I’ve read since sampling the oeuvre of the Marquis de Sade as an undergraduate.
So, what does Wall Street want?
Here’s what Wall Street doesn’t want: It doesn’t want to hear from Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann or even Newt Gingrich, or suffer any sort of tea-party populism. It wants you rubes to shut up about Jesus and please pay your mortgages. It doesn’t want to hear from such traditional Republican constituencies as Christian conservatives, moral traditionalists, pro-lifers, or friends of the Second Amendment. It doesn’t even want to hear much from the Chamber of Commerce crowd, because those guys are used-car dealers and grocery-store owners and for the most part strictly from hick, so far as Wall Street is concerned. Wall Street wants an administration and a Congress — and a country — that believes what is good for Wall Street is good for America, whether that is true or isn’t. Wall Street doesn’t want free markets — it wants friends, favors, and fealty.
“At the risk of oversimplifying it,” one Wall Street insider explains, “imagine a bank went bankrupt. Then the regulators came in and cracked open all the customers’ safe-deposit boxes, even though they knew for certain that none of the contents belonged to the bank. Then they tossed those assets into the pile for the creditors to pick through and told the box holders to get in line as well. That’s what folks are saying is happening here. And in a situation like that, who wants a safe-deposit box?”
So there you have it: hedge-fund titans, i-bankers, congressional nabobs, committee chairmen, senators, swindlers, run-of-the-mill politicos, and a few outright thieves (these categories are not necessarily exclusive) all feeding at the same trough, and most of them betting that Mitt Romney won’t do anything more to stop it than Barack Obama did. If anything, the fact that Romney is having the least luck with the firm that knows him best speaks better of him than does the enthusiasm he apparently inspires in Goldman Sachs et al.
If you’re interested in hearing a bit of Prof. Williams’s personal history, you can watch the complete Reason interview here, and get a taste of what’s in his new autobiography, “Up from the Projects.”
If you require some sobering-up or would just like to stay awake a bit longer after the upcoming New Year’s celebrations, I’m sure what Peter Schweizer has to say here will be as helpful to you along this line as reading his book was to Mr. Williamson.
Has anyone heard what establishment Republicans have had to say about this? Just curious.
Happy New Year!