Brain Dropping #20
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts gave a talk in Burlington on Friday at the Unitarian Church. I had to go hear her – she’s one of my heroes, a truth-teller! Over the years, to keep my spirits up, I have compiled a list of truth-tellers who go against the flow of the vast rivers of bullshit, and it’s funny, most of them are women. No, not Hillary, she’s a master kayaker floating downstream on that fetid flow. I’m talking about Brooksley Born who was head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission who warned about the fraudulent bets in the derivatives market, and was roundly put down by Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers and the rest of the eunuchs of economic cupidity. And Sheila Bair chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which insures our lowly bank deposits. She rejected the idea of impunity for banks based on the notion of “Too big to fail!” And, of course Elizabeth Warren who was chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee during the TARP giveaway to the banks, and an advocate for the Consumers Financial Protection Agency.
Senator Warren is a good speaker. She has integrity, and I would vote for her for President in a heart beat. In her talk she laid down a strategy of reform for the financial system – from resurrecting Glass/Steagell, restoring the fire-wall between commercial banks and riskier investment banks, to allowing student loans to be restructured to less onerous interest rates. But, alas, as much as I like Senator Warren my cynical self sees all that as “pissing in the wind!” Why?? Because all this talk of reform and regulation assumes that we are still a democracy and that the rule of “one person – one vote” is still operational, and that Citizens United never happened, and that our legislators are not “bought and paid for!” and do not consistently vote against the popular will to please their puppet masters with the bags of dough.
Waves of protests have spread across the globe as a direct challenge to neo-liberal (unbridled market policies) modes of domination and corruption of politics. The debilitating notion that politics can only be challenged within established methods of reform and existing relations of power plays right into the hands of the ruling elite. No matter how well-intentioned Senator Warren’s program may be, without protests of extraordinary magnitude – yes, people in the streets, civil disobedience, marchers by the hundreds of thousands encamped in Lafayette Park, labor organizing. Without a popular uprising like Occupy Wall Street by the millions – I fear the oligarchs with deep pockets will prevail.