So here’s a new bit of corporate hilarity for you: nearly a month ago the Justice Department announced that investment giant (and financial melt-down participant) JPMorgan has agreed to a $13 billion dollar settlement as penalty for their horribly fraudulent sale of mortgage backed securities, which contributed to the banking debacle of 2007. But not so fast! Four billion of those dollars was actually part of ANOTHER settlement announced in October, and almost half of the remaining $9 billion will go to alleviate supposed “mortgage relief,” to be distributed over four years (presumably within JP Morgan itself) “by an independent monitor.” That reduces the actual settlement amount to $5 billion dollars… BEFORE the bank writes off a portion of that total amount against their taxes.
If they get away with writing off, say, half of the remaining settlement amount it knocks off at least another $2.5 billion, which means JPMorgan will actually get away with paying only about $2.5 billion dollars after defrauding investors out of more than ten times that amount. Such a settlement isn’t really “punishment.” It’s just the cost of doing business when you’re too-big-to-fail and above the law. If the above scenario actually happens, then the supposed 13 billion dollar “mega fine” winds up being little more than a slap on the wrist, and worse—an incentive to keep breaking the law.
How can this happen? Can our government really let this sort of thing slide? Especially when we are supposedly in danger of “moving toward socialism”?
Well… it happens because JP Morgan CAN AFFORD to shrug off a 2.5 billion dollar fine. They are literally too wealthy to stop. The hard truth is this: socialism is the least of our worries. We are in a situation where economic disparity has created a new aristocracy— a purely-economically-driven one.
All societies under a free market economy are subject to rule by the wealthiest citizens; that’s always the case, and it’s not all bad. Capitalism encourages hard work and innovation, and some achieve more than others. That’s all fine and dandy. UNLESS those who have achieved a larger share of the pie than others take specific actions and use their wealth to enact measures ensuring that everyone else outside a select group of chosen families and organized groups can never achieve a similar rise in fortune— by monopolizing opportunity.
Again, that always happens to some extent. But if it becomes INSTITUTIONALIZED to the point where all of the wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority— and all of that wealth is restricted in such a way that it flows along heritable lines only— and if the holders of that wealth then use it to control how the rest of the population is governed, even to extracting more wealth from them via taxation to be fed into the family coffers of the upper one percent…
…then what you have is a plutocratic aristocracy.
And… here we are. Rule by inherited wealth. Just like the monarchy the American founders rejected.
Our media (even such formerly-Liberal bastions as NPR and the like) gets paid to distract us and keep us docile by feeding us myths about the American Dream, and how anyone can rise to anything from anywhere; but the real truth is that the fix is in. We are all, collectively as a nation, within a hairsbreadth of being completely owned.
Isn’t that what our founding fathers specifically tried to prevent when they drafted the Constitution?
Buy all the guns you want if it gives you the illusion of freedom. They get a slice of those sales, too.