Monday, August 9, 2010

Crooks,Clowns, Cronies and Con Men--A Portrait of our Federal, State, and Local Political Leadership

I had some time this past weekend to catch up on my current events reading. It might appear from the title of this post that I am being unfair to those in the political class. I am sure we all know some hard working, decent people who have given their professional lives to politics and government, but on balance I think we are stuck with a bunch of sad sacks, political party be damned. I would even go a step further and add business leaders to the 4-C moniker. Over the past several years I have witnessed some pathetic examples of business leadership. It sure is sad, but we truly are reaping what has been sown.The articles highlighted below are just things that popped over the past couple days. A potpourri of craziness.

Exhibit 1-- Denver School System raped by bankers: Superintendent gains promotion to the US Senate.

There are multiple issues in this story. How did the Denver School System get in a situation whereby they were staring at a $400 million unfunded liability. The School Board's solution was to enter into a derivative "swaps" agreement with JP Morgan. The end results of their financial efforts: they still face a $400 million shortfall and still owe another $400 million because of the Morgan deal blew up in their face. The best part though is the guy that orchestrated the deal, the Superintendent of Schools at the time, Michael Bennet was eventually appointed to fill a vacant US Senate seat. He has the full support of the Obama Administration as he faces his constituents in a Democratic primary today. His explanation for the fiasco, "Nobody could have seen the financial crisis coming". Right

Exhibit 2--Matt Tiabbi skewers the players and pawns of both parties in the fiasco that is FinReg. I think it might have been Karl Denniger who pointed out that the Glass-Steagall Act was 40 pages and we would have been better off just reenacting it rather than wasting time with the new 2000 or so page piece of garbage that we are now stuck with.As Taibbi so skillfully points out, you would have to be worse than naive to believe that the cast of characters in DC are working for "we the people". The plutocracy is getting taken care of across the board. I knew Mitch McConnell was in the tank, but shame on Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Blanche Lincoln and a host of others.

Exhibit 3 -- This story boggles the mind. How about an August surprise where the Obama Administration orders Freddie and Fannie to forgive the mortgage debt on "underwater mortgages"--loans where more is owed than the home is worth. I don't even have a comment to offer on this one.

I'll leave the issue of massive unfunded pension liabilities out of this rant. That's for another day. Something to ponder, given all the problems we face at the municipal, state,and federal level plus $3 trillion ( yes TRILLION) of unfunded liabilities staring us in the face, why would anyone put their neck on the line and seek an elected position in government. I hate to be cynical, but even those who flat out suck seem to do well financially once they do their government "service". It's the new fast track to wealth in our economic system.

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