Take a break from bad news and indulge in some holiday cheer? Maybe in real life. But here in the online world, so red in tooth and claw? Don’t know that I can manage it. After all, even as police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia followed their New York City counterparts in clearing out Occupy Wall Street encampments, an onslaught of news about further offenses against “Main Street” and the little guy kept hitting us – ironically, courtesy of Bloomberg, the company created by the fed-up-with-protest Mayor of New York. What these developments do, aside from sapping our seasonal good spirits, is buttress OWS’s not-always-adequately-explained reason for being.
First, it turns out the Fed and the banks fought for two years to prevent Bloomberg reporters from accessing information about the big 2008 bank bailout, whose real numbers leapfrogged the publicly known $700 billion TARP program. A combined $7.77 trillion in guarantees and lending limits was committed to rescuing the financial system (though that amount wasn’t provided in the end). Bloomberg LP had to win a court case before its Freedom of Information Act requests were honored.
To add insult to injury, says the Bloomberg team, “Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers.” According to co-author Bob Ivry, the banks’ lobbying actually went up 30% as they were receiving huge loans from taxpayers.
Fresh from trying to absorb that news, we learn that, also in 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson gave a group of hedge fund managers inside information about the government’s plan to seize Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, providing the investors an obvious opportunity to profit by selling ahead of time.
Perhaps there’s a sneaky plan underfoot here to overload us with outrage so we sink into a stupor and can’t do anything about all this. OK, everybody – the market’s way up today. Buy! Buy! Buy! Hey, when’s lunch?
Oh, and in a related development, American workers are again not planning to take even the piddling number of vacation days they earn. Money worries seem to be the main reason cited, but that doesn’t fully explain the phenomenon with respect to workers with paid vacation days. Most likely they are afraid that if they take all their days, their companies will start to think they’re not all that necessary and lay them off. Now those would be some happy holidays!