Home > finance, rant > Today is a day for politics

Today is a day for politics

July 25, 2012

President Obama made comments last Friday in Fort Myers, Florida, about the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado. Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say:

So, again, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support. But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.

This makes no sense. Actually, it’s offensive. When is it a day for politics, President Obama? And why are we treating this tragedy like an act of nature?

When a guy gets enough ammunition shipped to him legally, through the U.S. Post Office, to perform a massacre, and he rigs his house with sophisticated booby traps over months of preparation, we can safely say two things. First, this guy was absolutely insane, and second he had all of the resources available to him to kill dozens of people.

I can understand why, for the families of the victims, their therapists or priests may ask them to accept this fatalistically – they can’t get their loved one back. But as a nation, we should not be willing to be so passive in the face of what is obviously a fucked up system. We can imagine, I hope, a culture where it’s a wee bit more difficult to massacre innocent people if and when you decide that’s a good idea.

If you’re in doubt that this system is skewed towards the madman, keep in mind that the uninsured Aurora shooting victims are at risk of debtor’s prison in this country.

It begs the question of why we’ve become so inured to bad politicians. Notice I’m not saying inured to violence and random shootings, because we’re not, actually. We are all horrified, but in the face of such tragedy we shrug our shoulders and say stuff about the fact that there’s nothing we can do. Because that’s what our politicians say.

I’ll draw an analogy between this and the financial crisis, which is ongoing and could be getting worse. We often hear passive, third person narratives coming from our politicians and central bankers, who talk about the bankrupt banks and the corruption like there’s nothing we can actually do to fix this. Again, acts of nature.

Bullshit. These guys have been paid off by bank lobbyists and told to act impotent. They are following orders. Our country deserves better than this leadership, whose politicians give money to banks, which they turn around and use to buy off politicians. As Neil Barofsky said in his new book:

“The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true,” Mr. Barofsky said in an interview last week. “It really happened. These suspicions are valid.”

I’d like to separate, for a moment, two issues. First, what we have come to expect from Obama, who gave us such hope when he was elected. Second, what we deserve – what we should expect from a politician who cares about people and doing the right thing.

There’s a huge difference, but let’s not lose sight of that second thing. That’s when I turn from pissed to bitter, and I really don’t want to be bitter.

This is a day for politics, President Obama, so step it up. I’m not giving up hope that someone, though probably not you, can deliver it to us.

Categories: finance, rant
  1. July 25, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Excellent points, Cathy, and well-stated. Perhaps the most insidious effects our system is the way in which the elites re-define the norms, so we accept corruption at all levels, in all aspects of life, as normal.

  2. Dan L
    July 25, 2012 at 11:27 am

    The reality is that every day is a day for politics… Obama’s decision to ignore gun control on Friday was a political one. A questionable one, but not necessarily indefensible. Would bringing up gun control on Friday have increased the likelihood of successful gun control legislation?

  3. Donald Yap
    July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

    The “broad immunity” for banks alluded to in this article is false. The “monitored agreement” with the 5 major banks “implement unprecedented changes in how they . . . handle foreclosures” “. . . does not prevent state and federal authorities from pursuing criminal enforcement actions . . . does not prevent any action by individual borrowers who wish to bring their own lawsuits. State attorneys general also preserved, among other things, all claims against the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), and all claims brought by borrowers.” 

    Unless something changed in what was actually filed in March ’12, but, imo, the Feb 9 ’12 HUD Press Release announcement of the settlement doesn’t suggest “broad immunity” :

    http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=%2Fpress%2Fpress_releases_media_advisories%2F2012%2FSettlementFeb92012

  4. OpenFedGuy
    July 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    There are roughly 12,000 gun homicides a year, 33 a day. Friday may not have been a particularly bad day. We should focus on the bigger background problem, more than the extremist who are clearly insane.

    Similarly, Madoff and rogue traders are bad but not the core problem. Its the rogue banks we need to tackle.

    As you note, we need to recognize that things could and should be different. Hold the politicians — public servants — to high standards and keep working ourselves.

  5. July 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Its not very intelligent to make this an issue about gun control, and to forget the federal money he had used to purchase them. Money is much more destructive than guns in the hands of psychopath.

    • stephen gardner
      July 26, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Now we’re going to blame the scholarship the killer received instead of easy access to weapons of mass murder: 100 round magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles. Really? Are you kidding? This comment is straight out of the right-wing playbook. Absolve guns and attack federal support for education! Really? This is despicable.

  6. July 26, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Kids walk through gun detectors at schools that parents need to get clearance to enter and whose halls and entry ways are monitored by cameras… Talk about being inured to the system!

  7. Lew
    July 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

    You are proposing a control system in both cases : one for the society to control violence and the other for banks.

    We can do control systems for mechanisms, for machines.

    However, society and the banking sector are both open, evolving, complex systems.

    ‘Open’ == subject to influences from outside the system, e.g. fads and weather and the economy for our society and fads and weather and ‘the zeitgeist’ for banks.

    ‘Evolving’ == changes in the system produce changes in the equations that define the transition to future states of the system. For the social system, the internet with Facebook and dating sites all change the way the society works. For the economy, new inventions, substitution of materials, and the internet change the fundamentals of the economy, so that projections of old correlations don’t account for new data.

    ‘Complex system’ implies at least emergent properties. ‘Culture’ is not a property of a single individual. ‘The Market’ has properties, e.g. futures markets, that are not embodied in a single sale of a product.

    We do not have the intellectual grasp of open, evolving, complex systems necessary to control them. The best we have done is medicine, but medicine has the advantages of 7B copies of the human open, evolving, complex system and animal models that allow experiments.

    One thing we do know : if you make changes to open, evolving, complex systems you have a very high probability of bad things happening. It is much easier to FUBAR a rainforest than to improve it, even if you can define ‘improve it’.

  8. jnerics@gmail.com
    July 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Guns don’t kill people, Central Banks kill people.

  9. kjmclark
    July 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Maybe you missed it, but two years ago the US Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment to the Constitution protects the rights of individuals to buy guns and ammunition. The guy didn’t have a criminal or psychiatric record. All of the weapons he bought and used were legal weapons for citizens to own, and he bought them legally.

    And incidentally, last year the same Supreme Court ruled that the first amendment free speech rights apply to corporations as well. It’s not too late to regulate the banks better, but they’re going to use their newly granted free-speech rights to work against that, and they have lots of money to “speak” with.

    Those look like decent reasons to be fatalistic. We have about a .0000001% chance of changing the first and second amendments to the Constitution, and only a *slightly* higher chance of getting reversals out of the SCOTUS, in our lifetimes.

    Best bet is for movie theaters and other establishments like that to beef up their security. Which will increase ticket prices even more. Thank science for DVD & Blu-ray.

  10. Vince Gay
    July 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    What are any meaningful politics about, if not life and death issues?

    …As for Obama, it’s worthwhile to slice and dice our disappointment. Only a few things (kill lists?!) have truly surprised me, so my low expectations have protected me from disappointment. This is not to say that I wouldn’t be within my rights to expect much, much more, just that I don’t, even though I would love to.

    To what extent, though, is the disappointment about failure to keep promises? And to what extent is the disappointment about failure to be what people projected on to him? I think a little of both is going on.

  11. July 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    As Bush’s bald-headed flunkey, Steve Schmidt — no advocate of gun control — put it recently, “Politicians go to the N.R.A., Democrats and Republicans, and they basically read a script, which is not much different from a hostage video.” See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/us/politics/obama-and-romney-dont-heed-new-call-for-gun-laws.html

  1. July 26, 2012 at 6:58 am
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