What The Big Banks Have Done To Your Community

From Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and her crew takes a look the latest Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone Magazine:

“Looting Main Street”–Matt Taibbi on How the Nation’s Biggest Banks Are Ripping Off American Cities with Predatory Deals

In a new article in Rolling Stone magazine, journalist Matt Taibbi takes an in-depth look at the experience of one small Alabama town and its disastrous dealings with Wall Street. Taibbi writes, “The destruction of Jefferson County reveals the basic battle plan of these modern barbarians, the way that banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have systematically set out to pillage towns and cities from Pittsburgh to Athens.”

The Democracy Now! video is below the fold while the Rolling Stone piece is at the other end of this link and deals with how it all is hurting your school and your local government. To make matters worse for many of these communities they also have to deal with how their local government has been corrupted by bribes from the bankers.

And once the giant shit machine was built and the note on all that fancy construction started to come due, Wall Street came back to the local politicians and doubled down on the scam. They showed up in droves to help the poor, broke citizens of Jefferson County cut their toilet finance charges using a blizzard of incomprehensible swaps and refinance schemes — schemes that only served to postpone the repayment date a year or two while sinking the county deeper into debt. In the end, every time Jefferson County so much as breathed near one of the banks, it got charged millions in fees. There was so much money to be made bilking these dizzy Southerners that banks like JP Morgan spent millions paying middlemen who bribed — yes, that's right, bribed, criminally bribed — the county commissioners and their buddies just to keep their business. Hell, the money was so good, JP Morgan at one point even paid Goldman Sachs $3 million just to back the fuck off, so they could have the rubes of Jefferson County to fleece all for themselves.

And then there is how much of the same has destroyed national governments like Greece, as well.  

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and you come up with this:

. . . while the county was forced to borrow obscene sums to pay for the rapidly spiraling costs.

The County was absolutely not 'forced' to borrow obscene sums, and if you'd have drilled down in the article you'd have found that out. But what the fuck, Wall Street bankers are so much more of an easy target than tree-huggers who call in the EPA lawyers.

I'll give you the fact that JP Morgan never saw a local dipshit they didn't like - especially one so utterly corrupt and stupid as to sell granny for dimes - but the blame lies evenly across the spectrum of lunacy that begins and ends with the Earth Biscuit crew.

But the terms of the loans and the manipulation have little to do with the fact that they needed to stop pollution. The horror of expecting to leave our kids with cleaner water did not manipulate the markets, bribe officials and extract obscene amounts in bonuses for reckless banksters. Could or should the EPA have shown more flexibility? I don't know. Were those protected species in peril of disappearing if they did not force them to act to act immediately?

But it is irrelevant because the pollution did not break the market.

But seriously? Line of thought like that would be the same as blaming kids because they needed a school and a town got screwed over borrowing to build it.

"Yeah... Those evil ankle biters are equally to blame! Why should they expect to be educated in a school?"

And a lot of towns are getting screwed over in funding of newer schools or renovations of older ones. Screwed over in ways that would not have happened if the markets were not being manipulated in the first place.

This was a clearly stated case of local corruption involving (apparently) every single person that had anything at all to do with that wastewater treatment plant. You can try to blame the banks for local greed, but you can't cure the locals collective case of stupid.

some earth bicuit. Expecting the EPA to enforce laws protecting endangered species is not some part of the collective stupid that happened there.

They never sat in on the meetings where the manipulation of markets, corruption, graft and incompetence took place.

Ya want to blame the liberals and progressives for the bush administration war crimes? Because I am sure many of the liberals and progressives would like to see those laws enforced.

There is your argument mirrored in all its silly.

going through the exact same scenario out here in our little town, and yes, the EPA/earth biscuits have plenty to do with the how, when, where, and what type of mitigation is required. When debate circles around one tenth of an arbitrary and capricious 'load', the effect of which is to severely narrow the choices and unnecessarily add costs, you bet your ass I have a problem.

In our case out here - and what prompted the rage - is that the trolls living inside the engineering department, directed by management, chose ancient technology at a cost of hundreds of millions, rather than the finally adopted alternative at less than one-third the cost. I see nothing different in Jefferson County.

As is usually the case when blame is placed squarely on one side of a dodecehedron to the exclusion of others, the big picture gets lost. Here that means you've excluded all parties except those you've chosen to attack by reference through Goodman to Taibbi. It's all 'banks' all the time around here, and the arguments are neither accurate nor coherent. The people behind the names who perpetrated the largest fraud in American history did indeed work in the financial industry. But not for 'banks'. For investment houses, for hedge funds, for insurance companies, but for the most part *not* for 'banks'.

None of which involves the political affiliations (or not) of any of the players in the game, specifically including 'progressives' or 'liberals'. And let's be clear, your argument in all it's 'silly' would have readers believe otherwise. Stating the patently obvious, there are conservative tree-huggers just as there are progressive or liberal 'blue dog' conservatives.

I'll stick with what I've written.

that you have to be going Glenn Beck to take it seriously. No, I really don't think slamming environmentalists for wanting enforcement of the law was even near the thrust of the piece. In fact it mocks those who deride them.

In the past you have had a habit of pointing out some of environmentalists very seriously flawed positions.

But Like I said, it should be up to the EPA to show flexibility when something is unrealistic, whether it is a lack of technology to achieve standards or the very real costs of attainable goals that could be achieved incrementally and with less damaging effects to communities, but I don't think you are even near correct on this one. I would look at this as being another federal unfunded mandate coming from EPA standards. It is not the environmentalist's fault that communities were robbed nor is it their fault these laws are enforced.

precisely the accusation the community was 'robbed' that prompted my response in the first place. I'll keep this simple because you obviously don't get it: the 'banks' cannot *compel* anyone to do anything. The failure here is the citizen's to clean their own house. Nothing more, nothing less:

Birmingham became the poster child for a new kind of giant-scale financial fraud . .

Can you hear me now?

because to accept your version you have to ignore the manipulation of a market, something that is impossible to ignore. Just the fact that they had to bribe these local idiots to get them to go along tells you where the corruption and the scam is coming from.

And then there is the reality of where Taibbi is coming from to put where he is going with this in context.

The Wall Street Bailout Hustle

The bottom line is that banks like Goldman have learned absolutely nothing from the global economic meltdown. In fact, they're back conniving and playing speculative long shots in force — only this time with the full financial support of the U.S. government. In the process, they're rapidly re-creating the conditions for another crash, with the same actors once again playing the same crazy games of financial chicken with the same toxic assets as before.

That's why this bonus business isn't merely a matter of getting upset about whether or not Lloyd Blankfein buys himself one tropical island or two on his next birthday. The reality is that the post-bailout era in which Goldman thrived has turned out to be a chaotic frenzy of high-stakes con-artistry, with taxpayers and clients bilked out of billions using a dizzying array of old-school hustles that, but for their ponderous complexity, would have fit well in slick grifter movies like The Sting and Matchstick Men. There's even a term in con-man lingo for what some of the banks are doing right now, with all their cosmetic gestures of scaling back bonuses and giving to charities. In the grifter world, calming down a mark so he doesn't call the cops is known as the "Cool Off."

To appreciate how all of these (sometimes brilliant) schemes work is to understand the difference between earning money and taking scores, and to realize that the profits these banks are posting don't so much represent national growth and recovery, but something closer to the losses one would report after a theft or a car crash. Many Americans instinctively understand this to be true — but, much like when your wife does it with your 300-pound plumber in the kids' playroom, knowing it and actually watching the whole scene from start to finish are two very different things. In that spirit, a brief history of the best 18 months of grifting this country has ever seen

It is robbery.

And it is not called "giant-scale fraud" because a lawsuit was initiated by a few local tree huggers who were breaking no laws. And I think you really need to reassess your views here because even local stupidity is a lot different than the greedy people that are easily corrupted with bribes coming from banksters. Bribes coming from, ya know, the people that have manipulated the markets and governments and are the source of the real problem.

And people aren't gonna "Cool Off".

It is almost like a story could break these days about a banker killing his grandma and someone would defend them because it was profitable in some way:

Ok. Let’s go back two years and not do ANYTHING to help out the banks during the crisis and see if JPMorgan Chase sinks or swims under the load of their “sanctified contracts” without taxpayer largesse and huge government intervention at taxpayer expense. And let’s see how many homes JPMorgan Chase has foreclosed on the owners and then abandoned in areas like Cleveland, leaving the wrecked and unclaimed homes to be looted, vandalized, and serve as crack and crime dens up and until the taxpayers are forced to deal with it. Let’s make them live up to their sanctified god damned contracts and take responsibility for their mess. Let’s see how profitable they are without no-interest and extremely low interest loans from the Fed which they turn around and lend to consumers for a hefty profit.

I hate these assholes. And yet I can guarantee there will be someone in the comments defending these guys. You hippies are just being irrational and lashing out!

If you want to get all Glenn Beck about it, you could lay the blame for this entire mess at the feet of weepy, tree-hugging environmentalists ...

hmmm ...

[responding to your last, too skinny at the bottom there]

. . . to accept your version you have to ignore the manipulation of a market

Bribes coming from, ya know, the people that have manipulated the markets and governments and are the source of the real problem.

You're still blaming the devil for being able to make the bribe, irrespective of the greed of the person on the receiving end. At the very edge of this 'discussion' I flatly stated there was plenty of blame to go around, but the triggering event had more to do with failure to negotiate on a *local* level than any other factor.

No politics, or 'dirty hippy' attitude involved.

"but the blame lies evenly across the spectrum of lunacy that begins and ends with the Earth Biscuit crew."

I have been paying attention. And this is where my argument starts and ends. You will be arguing with yourself on this subject now.