Posted by: minnow | August 7, 2013

Can We Afford to Learn the Hard Way?

I don’t know much about banking.  I haven’t studied the history and frankly I am not too excited about the idea that I need to become a watchdog for the US Banking System.  Thus, I am incredibly grateful for people like Elizabeth Warren.  The woman does her homework and keeps her poise even when the big guns are against her.  Just watch the video in which she gives the CNBC folks a history lesson.

Most of you can probably remember the 2008 Too Big to Fail public bailout of some of the nation’s biggest banks, you know, the incident that caused all those crazy people to Occupy Wall Street and their local city hall lawns.  What do you suppose happened to the individuals who mismanaged funds, took incredible risks with money that wasn’t actually theirs, and caused the banks to fail?  The documentary Inside Job can give you the history.  (Your local movie shop should have a copy).  But, the long and the short of it is–several of the banks that were in trouble got swallowed up and now we have even bigger banks at risk.  348 additional banks failed.  There has not been a single prosecution of a high profile individual from the crisis.  And, many of the same politicians who bailed out the banks in ‘o8 are still running the country.  Of those senators who voted FOR the bail out and are still in office 13 voted against the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank attempts to hold banks and other lending institutions accountable for their lending and investment practices.  But Dodd-Frank is really just a beginning (as Ms Warren pointed out in the video) of the kind of oversight we need to establish if we are going to protect ourselves from an even more serious crisis.

Ms Warren together with John McCain, Maria Campwell and Angus King are now trying to add to Dodd Frank by bringing back the part of the Glass Seagall Act that separates the FDIC insured accounts from speculative investments.  From 1933 until congress began chipping away at the original Glass Seagall Act in 1983 we had no major bank failures.  Prior to 1933 banks failed an average of every 15 years.  That is a huge contrast and illustrates how important bank regulation is.  Sadly, if we want to avoid “too big to fail” banks we’ve been heading in the wrong direction–the top 4 banks today are 30 percent bigger than the banks that failed in 2008.

I completely understand feeling like this stuff is too complicated, overwhelming, or boring.  I get that the average Joe just doesn’t have time to study all the related issues or write his or her senators and representatives.  But, I also know that even though the top tier will hit the ground last when the tower finally comes crumbling down, we are heading for that end unless we do something soon to stabilize the hemorrhaging middle class and rein in the wanton accumulation of top 1 percent.  So, if you vote and are concerned about the financial stability of our nation look at the list below.   If your senator appears on this list it might just be time for you to demand an explanation of his or her vote or work toward electing his or her replacement.  If you don’t vote start voting.  It is the only tool we have to change how government does business.  If you aren’t registered then your first step toward making a difference is to get registered!

*    *    *    *    *


* up for re-election or retiring in 2014

*Lamar Alexander of Tennessee

Richard Burr of North Carolina

*Saxby Chambliss of Georgia

Tom Coburn of Oklahoma

Bob Corker of Tennessee

*John Cornyn of Texas

*Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Orrin Hatch of Utah

Johnny Isakson of Georgia

John McCain of Arizona

*Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas

John Thune of South Dakota


Maria Cantwell of Washington

John Brrasso of Wyoming

*Thad Cochran of Mississippi

Mike Crapo of Idaho

*Michael Enzi of Wyoming

*James Inhofe of Oklahoma

*Mike Johanns of Nebraska

*Jeff Sessions of Alabama

Richard Shelby of Alabama

David Vitter of Louisiana

Roger Wicker of Missisippi

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