Discussing Matt Taibbi's masterful expression of outrage, in Rolling Stone last month, over the series of crisis spawned by Goldman Sachs and the domination of the United States by "gangster economics," Robert Johnson, Director in the Economic Policy Initiative of the Roosevelt Institute, writes that
Taibbi’s rage is filling an emotional void. It is a reaction to what is missing after this profound speculative episode that the IMF suggests will cost over $4 trillion in losses on balance sheets and untold trillions in lost output. It is fury over a crisis that is, by any measure, the most profoundly damaging episode since the 1930s.
Johnson notes the
scale of losses that the taxpayer has been forced to absorb, along with disappearing funds for future roads, bridges, healthcare, schools and a tax drag on wealth creation. It is into the void created by the tepid media coverage of this horrid and costly episode that Mr. Taibbi has screamed. . . .
The problem now is that the experts and leaders from finance have failed us miserably. They have let us down and we know it. We do not trust in the system. . . Even with losses and bailouts, we have to fight over bonus payments to those who feel entitled, despite the cost they have imposed on their stockholders and, more importantly, society.
. . . . The financial sector, and other large patronage donors, spend billions of dollars on lobbyists and campaign contributions. Politicians then run their expensive election marketing campaigns with the proceeds. And finally, the contributors buy downside loss protection from the politicians and their appointees.
Who provides that downside protection? You and me. The taxpayer. The body politic. We get used by this refracted process, and our system is mislabeled as a representative democracy. And, to add insult to injury, we are forced to endure the the horror of the awful marketing campaigns of politicians using the their payoff money to protect donors with our the tax base. The media is on the take, too, collecting advertising revenue from financial companies and from political campaigns. Far be it for them to step outside this circular flow of funds that impedes our political system from incorporating feedback from evidence of its own dysfunction.
We are amidst a crisis of political legitimacy.