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The 147 People Destroying the World

How the usual suspects perpetuate economic injustice.

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Dimon’s Board of Directors is a case study in Dunbar’s Number. It includes Honeywell CEO David Cote, who was a member of the Simpson Bowles Commission. There’s a retired senior executive with another big defense contractor, Boeing. Together with Dimon, that makes three CEOs who earn their money from government largesse.

The CEO of Comcast is on Dimon’s Board, too. (The media’s leaders are always among the 147.) One seat belongs to the head of one of the accounting groups that overlooked massive bank fraud when signing off on their annual statements. Another belongs to the former CEO of Exxon Mobil.

The “147″ run companies. They also hold fundraisers for politicians – in both parties.

When Senator Obama became President Obama, during the gravest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, one of his first acts was to create a “Deficit Commission” instead of a “Jobs Commission.” Why? Because “147 people” thought that was the right priority. Then he appointed the dyspeptic, unlikable, and uninformed Sen. Simpson to co-chair it.

You see, the “147 people” in Washington’s political and media circles like Alan Simpson. To them he’s not an embarrassment to his President, a paid pitchman for billionaire Pete Peterson’s anti-Social Security jihad. (We know Pete!) To them Simpson’s not an ill-informed and misogynistic bully who taunts women with comments about “310 million tits.” To them he’s Al. They know him. They say he’s a lot of fun when you get to know him.

They really say that.

Then there are the news anchors and journalists who say things like this: Everybodyknows that we need to cut Social Security. Everybody knows the deficit is our most urgent problem.

Everybody knew that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, too.

Everybody understands that the right-wing, anti-government Simpson Bowles plan represents the “political center,” although it’s far to the right of public opinion – even ofRepublican or Tea Party voters’ opinion – on issues that range from job creation to increasing Social Security benefits.

You can’t fit millions of frustrated voters into a social group of 147 people.

When Teddy Roosevelt became President, J.P. Morgan (the person, not the bank) suggested he “send your man to my man and they can fix it up.” He was shocked that the new President chose instead to operate outside the Circle in order to create real change. And when Franklin D. Roosevelt became President he brought in new faces, new voices, new ideas. He broke the social circle that had paralyzed government and the economy.

But the circle of right-wing Republicans and corporatist Clintonite Democrats is still intact. That means Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders will keep on promoting the right-wing agenda known as Simpson Bowles until their party loses all its political power at the polls.

It also means that Republican extremism will still be reported with straight-faced gravity.Congressional committees will keep deregulating big banks, the Justice Department will avoid prosecuting them, and their Boards of Directors will keep rewarding their executives. They’ll all keep doing exactly what they’re doing – until the economy blows up again, perhaps with far worse consequences than the last time.

And when the next crisis comes, “147 people” will react to it exactly the same way they reacted to the last one. You can almost hear them now, can’t you? You can’t blame us, they’ll say. Nobody could’ve seen this coming. How do we know that?

Because we asked everybody we know.

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, a consultant, and a former musician.

 
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