ARTBOXMagazine: Detroit’s abandoned houses.
For months, a massive federal settlement with big Wall Street banks over their role in the mortgage crisis has been in the offing. The rumored details have always given progressives heartburn: civil immunity, no investigations, inadequate help for homeowners and a small penalty for the banks. Now, on the eve President Obama’s State of the Union address—in which he plans to further advance a populist message against big money and income inequality—the deal may be here, and it’s every bit as ugly as progressives feared.
The Associated Press reports that a proposed deal could be announced within weeks. Five banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC)—would pay the federal government $25 billion. About $17 billion would be used to reduce the principal that some struggling homeowners owe, $5 billion more would be used for future federal and state programs and $3 billion would be used to help homeowners refinance at 5.25 percent. Civil immunity would be granted to the banks for any role in foreclosure fraud, and there would be no investigations.
We build our lives on certain beliefs, then spend much of our time protecting ourselves from conflicting facts, experiences, and ideas. This self-deception is made easier for us by our society’s cult of specialization, whereby people are convinced that they’re primarily journalists or arms salespeople or oil executives. Our jobs define our lives, and our job in the vast majority of cases is to make money for business. Any concern that goes beyond our profession is rejected as having ‘nothing to do do with me’ or ‘being outside my field’.
This attitude is drilled into us all the way through school into our career. We see being professional and talented and knowledgable as a matter of being specialized. And the first thing you lose when you become specialized is your humanity. To paraphrase Jean-Jacques Rosseau: We’ve got plenty of chemists, physicists, and bankers, but there isn’t a citizen among us.
Say a corporate executive is convinced of his own fundamental goodness, as most people are. That person would have a terribly difficult time entertaining the notion that the corporation for which he’s worked over a lifetime - indeed, the entire corporate system of which he’s a part - is responsible for terrible loss of life and destruction of nature; to acknowledge that reality would be to acknowledge that he has lent his talents to genocide and ecocide. And he can’t do that. He’s spent years building up a career. His prestige and sense of self-worth are closely tied to his success - in other words, to how much oil he has discovered, or how many cars he has produced. Given all this, serious consideration of the moral status of his work would create a profound conflict between his morality and his financial - not to mention his emotional and social - needs.
The money, by the way, is no small matter. It may seem that he has everything to lose and nothing to gain from that sort of serious examination, and so his unconscious will protect his sense of self from a very painful conflict by dismissing or ignoring any evidence that he participates in these atrocities. And it will do so in such a way that it never even occurs to him - even with the evidence staring him in the face - that there’s the slightest thing wrong with what he’s doing. The same is true of journalists, for example, or politicians, whose livelihoods and social esteem are based on serving corporate power; under no circumstances can they allow themselves to comprehend the true nature of the role they’re playing.
“… [W]hat do we mean when we say revolutionary Socialists? We mean the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler, and the products to the producers. Now, let us analyze that for just a moment. Is there a single land owner in this country … who will allow you to vote it away from him?
… [The product] belongs to the capitalist class as their legal property. Do you think that they will allow you to vote them away from them by passing a law and saying, ‘Be it enacted that on and after a certain day Mr Capitalist shall be dispossessed?’ Hence, when you roll under your tongue the expression that you are revolutionists, remember what that word means. It means a revolution that shall turn all these things over where they belong — to the wealth producers.
Now, how shall the wealth producers come into possession of them? I believe that if every man and woman who works … should decide in their minds that they shall have that which of right belongs to them … then there is no army that is large enough to overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army.”
Lucy Parsons, sometime around 1902
I like to post this every once in a while. It’s a printable flyer that you can put up locally…
The only way to defeat the 1% is to take away the only thing that they care about - profits.
AVOID ALL KOCH BROTHERS PRODUCTS as much as you can. I’ve found other alternatives, and it wasn’t even that hard.
KOCH funds Radical Right Wing candidates. I don’t want to help THAT!