Taibbi's Scream: Stop the Political System That Has Let Goldman Sachs Fleece Us for 90 Years
Continued from previous page
We are amidst a crisis of political legitimacy. The leaders of our complex financial firms have failed. They have failed as stewards of our nation's future. They have failed as protectors of our public Treasury. Now, with trillions guaranteed, hundreds of billions of bailouts paid, and very little in the way of investigation, firings, or prosecution of the perpetrators, we are all being asked to calm down, move on, and stop acting like populists (a pejorative term when used by elite media or financiers). In the mean time, the perpetrators of this disaster confidently pay their political soldiers for another round of lobbying/campaign contribution money. (For more details on the numbers and firms involved see " Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America." See also Thomas Ferguson's fine work collected in his book, Golden Rule.)
Returning to Taibbi's startling article, there are many reasons for the amplified language he chooses to confront us with in rendering the social experience of Goldman Sachs (an experience that is certainly not unique to that firm). Perhaps it is illumination that Goldman Sachs and the leaders of finance have failed us as stewards and experts and that makes him mad. Or it could be that he is angry at the American people for trusting the financiers and enduring this abuse with little visible reaction. Or that the Bush and Obama Administrations and Congress have shown such little interest in investigating what happened, who did wrong, or who should be fired after drawing on the public purse to the tune of several hundred billion dollars!
It is hard to know what is in a writer's head and heart, but the Goldman Sachs piece is so intense in comparison to Taibbi's recent offerings that I sense a message of personal revulsion. For clues to what may have triggered this revulsion, I look back to his writings when he first returned to America and the book that acquainted me with his work: Spanking the Donkey: Dispatches from the Dumb Season. The book concerns the absurd carnival of the 2004 Democratic primaries. In the introduction, Taibbi describes how he had worked in Russia as a journalist for 10 years. He details the atrocities he saw, along with his sense of sympathy and fascination for the terrible things before his eyes. In Russia, he was an observer and not an accomplice, but when he returned to the USA in 2002, Taibbi felt less detached looking at his home country: "We are a country that has a large majority that on some level knows something is terribly wrong, but can't find any positive idea that it can follow and build upon..." He describes how he had no idea how to cover the presidental election but found the need to develop a strategy to move ahead: "...I did not see much that suggested to me that a groundswell of change is on the way. But I do believe there is a strategy to pursue in the meantime, and that is TO REFUSED TO BE LIED TO...." On the strength of that insight, Taibbi set out to write a book about lies -- how to recognize them and stop believing in them.
Taibbi's look at Goldman Sachs illuminates what is missing in our political energy as we prepare, as he suggests in the article, to get our lunch eaten again in the energy trading market. What's missing is a recognition that we have been violated by experts and leaders. What's needed is a proper cleansing of social misdeed through outrage.
It causes me great pain to think that this sensitive and brilliant young writer, who had a ringside seat for the grotesque rape of the body politic in 1990s Russia by rapacious private oligarchs, is sickened by what he sees in the USA now! Let me say that again. He watched the rape of the Russian people up close and he is sickened by what is happening in the USA right now.