Bank Bailouts Without End
This article comes from TheNewAmerican.com
by William F. Jasper
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the
You never get rid of the Dane.
— Dane-geld, by Rudyard Kipling
For more than 250 years — from the end of the 8th century to well into the 11th — wave after wave of Viking Danes, first as sporadic, raiding pirates, and then as full invading armies, crashed down on England’s shores like a hurricane. So fierce were these pagan Norsemen and so utterly destructive in their murder, mayhem, pillage, and plunder that King Ethelred the Unready, a weak and irresolute monarch, decided to buy them off rather than fight them. In 991, he paid Olaf Tryggvason of Norway and his invaders 10,000 pounds of silver in tribute — the first Danegeld — to depart England.
It was, wrote John Clark Ridpath (in his nine-volume History of the World, published 1894) “the fatal expedient of purchasing a peace.” Not only did the Danes soon return, but the ease with which they had extracted the first tribute encouraged them to up the extortion ante. What’s more, they brought additional gangsters. In 994, Olaf teamed up with King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark for a joint foray into England. This time they exacted 16,000 pounds of silver from Ethelred’s kingdom. But successive Danegelds escalated to 24,000, then 36,000, and then 48,000 pounds of silver. These tributes had to be extracted through ruinous taxes that devastated Britain as much as did the fire and sword of Viking raids.
Earlier generations of British and American schoolchildren familiar with this bloody epoch of English history, as well as Kipling’s poetry, would not have failed to see the Danegeld lesson in the recent bailouts of the Wall Street pirates. The warnings that the troubled banks were “too big to fail” echo Ethelred’s excuse that the Danes were too big to fight. And the pledge that the bailout would be a one-time fix has proven as false as the Viking promises to ravage England no more.
The 2008 mortgage crisis, which morphed into a global financial crisis, initiated an ongoing series of Danegeld payoffs to some of the biggest gold-plated piratical firms on the planet: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Bank of America, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Wachovia, AIG, Credit Suisse. Opinion polls have repeatedly shown that the American public have opposed the government bailouts. Even during the confusion, chaos, and panic of 2008, a majority of Americans (55 percent, according to a September 2008 Times/Bloomberg poll) opposed sticking taxpayers with the bank bailouts. Since then, public outrage and opposition have grown steadily, as details of the murky deals have become more widely known. By April of 2012, a Harris poll found 84 percent of respondents opposed to further bank bailouts. But Wall Street and the Fed, and their kept politicians in Congress, don’t listen to the American people, of course.
Banks’ New Way to Wealth
Far from being satisfied with the first extortionate payoffs, the bailouts only whetted their appetites for more. The hundreds of billions of dollars paid out through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) suddenly exploded into trillions of dollars flooding out through a torrent of programs such as the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, Primary Dealer Credit Facility, Dollar Liquidity Swap Lines — and whatever other “temporary” contrivances the Fed has come up with for the tsunami of money it has created and unleashed through its iterations of “quantitative easing.”
And, like Olaf Tryggvason, the bailed-out bankers soon went and brought in additional foreign raiders, including even foreign central banks. There is a significant difference, of course, between the Viking raiders, who were foreign invaders extracting their tribute with sword and axe, and the Wall Street pirates who carry out their extortion with computer key strokes, and with the collusion of our own government officials. We have only the vaguest of notions of the true extent of the ongoing raid on the American economy because officials of the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve are thoroughly embedded with the gangsters receiving the Danegeld, and they insist that it is better for the country and the global economy for the details of the “loans” and bailouts to remain secret, in the interests of “financial stability” and maintaining the Federal Reserve’s “independence.” Thus, top executives of the Wall Street “Money Trust” — the principal beneficiaries of the bailouts — continue to rotate in and out of top posts at the Fed and Treasury.
Due to the enormity of the 2008 crisis and mounting suspicions over the bailouts, former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), who for decades had been hammering on the Fed’s secret monetary dealings, finally had overwhelming public support. His audit-the-fed bill, H.R. 1207 attracted 320 cosponsors, nearly one hundred of whom flip-flopped to go with Wall Street and the Obama administration at crunch time. On December 11, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed his audit-the-Fed bill by a landslide vote of 223 to 202. But Wall Street and the Fed had a strategic ally in the Senate to sabotage Ron Paul’s audit: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sanders’ job was to strip the bill of as much authority as possible, while still making it appear to be authorizing a full, rigorous audit. Sanders, who talks a good line, regularly throws red meat to his constituents in the form of rhetoric that roasts Wall Street to a fare-thee-well. But when it comes time to walk the line, it’s clear which side of the street he’s actually on. His last-minute “compromise” with the Obama administration and the big banks agreed to audits of TARP and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, but made sure that the ongoing big items — the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, discount window operations, agreements with foreign central banks — would remain cloaked. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) tried to save the bill with an amendment that mirrored Ron Paul’s audit-the-Fed language, but on May 11, 2010 key Senate Republicans joined with the Harry Reid-Charles Schumer-Chris Dodd Democrats in killing the Vitter amendment 62 to 37.