Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why We Must Protect the Financial System from the Hamiltonians

This column in the New York Times by Frank Rich is an absolute must-read piece. He begins by pointing our, quite correctly, that the damage done to the United States by those responsible for the financial crisis that sparked the 2009 "Great Recession" was, in a certain sense, greater than that which might be caused by an Al-Qaeda terrorist attack. From this, he makes the obvious point that we must guard against a repeat of the recent looting of the nation by Wall Street executives just as assiduously as we would guard against another Al-Qaeda terrorist attack.

The men and women responsible for the disaster on Wall Street that has unfolded over recent years- and they number in the thousands- have escaped any meaningful punishment. Sadly, this is not surprising. Thanks to the armies of lobbyists the Hamiltonians employ on Capitol Hill, Congress has never passed any meaningful legislation prohibiting the unscrupulous activities the Wall Streeters that lead to the economic crisis (and, lest it be forgotten, ruined lives of millions of American citizens).

Adding insult to injury, of course, was the fact that American taxpayers were forced to shell out the money to save the massive Wall Street financial institutions, even as the executives have continued paying themselves billions of dollars in obscene bonuses.

Thomas Jefferson would not be at all surprised by the financial crisis that has unfolded over the past few years, and he would point out the fitting irony that it was caused by the greed and unscrupulousness of men and women working within a few hundred yards of where Alexander Hamilton was buried. The struggle between Jeffersonianism and Hamiltonianism did not end in the early 1800s, but continued to rage even in our own day. Indeed, the contest is as fierce as ever.

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