18 de outubro de 2011

A indignação nos EUA

Fui sempre um indignado ao longo da minha vida e ao longo dela a minha indignação evoluiu, aprofundou-se, alargou-se e compelexizou-se. Daí, não haver surpresa para mim, da minha empatia com os "indignados" em diversas coisas, em diversas temáticas, sem deixar de ter a certeza que deles me separam diferenças profundas, e muito mais. Aprendi que as canalhices que identificamos com propriedade  nos outros não implicam que sejamos, necessariamente, virtuosos, e que se conseguimos provar os erros dos outros isso não comprova de modo automático a verdade do que defendemos. Li algures uma citação dos Upanishads onde se comparava a verdade, ou a sabedoria, ao gume do fio de uma espada: o espaço do erro é todo aquele para além, em todas as direcções, do gume da espada. Há todo o campo para estarmos todos enganados, donde o que se pode almejar é que estejamos menos enganados do que os outros, mas para consegui-lo, isso dá muito trabalho, que o diga Karl Marx que levou anos a entrar todas as manhãs na biblioteca do Museu Britânico para estudar. A certeza é que, efectivamente, não se estuda o suficiente, não se sabe o suficiente, e, o que é mais grave, não se conhece a história, e essa, como o disse Mark Twain, se não se repete, muitas vezes rima.

En todo o caso tenho uma particular simpatia, e eu percebo bem porquê, pelos "indignados" dos EUA, os Ocupem Wall Street. Eles estão, geograficamente, no fulcro do problema .

Abaixo dois textos, bem diferentes, que deveriam ser lidos na totalidade. A situação nos EUA chegou a um ponto em que para muita gente esse movimento surge quase como  a única esperança de algo diferente, face ao descrédito do Partido Democrata e à loucura dos outros. Não acredito nisso.

Losing Their Immunity, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, the response from the movement’s targets has gradually changed: contemptuous dismissal has been replaced by whining. ... The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask, Don’t they understand what we’ve done for the U.S. economy? The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand..., that’s why they’re protesting. ...

My favorite quote came from an unnamed money manager who declared, “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it.” ... But ... the financialization of America wasn’t dictated by the invisible hand of the market. What caused the financial industry to grow much faster than the rest of the economy starting around 1980 was ... deregulation...
Not coincidentally, the era of an ever-growing financial industry was also an era of ever-growing inequality of income and wealth. ... All of this was supposed to be justified by results: the paychecks of the wizards of Wall Street were appropriate, we were told, because of the wonderful things they did. Somehow, however, that wonderfulness failed to trickle down to the rest of the nation — and that was true even before the crisis. ...

Then came the crisis, which proved that all those claims about how modern finance had reduced risk ... were utter nonsense. Government bailouts were all that saved us from a financial meltdown as bad as or worse than the one that caused the Great Depression. ...
Wall Street pay has rebounded even as ordinary workers continue to suffer from high unemployment and falling real wages. Yet it’s harder than ever to see what, if anything, financiers are doing to earn that money. Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? ...
Wall Street still has plenty of [one thing] thanks to those bailouts...: money. Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry’s shock over recent events.
You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again.
And their outrage has found resonance with millions of Americans. No wonder Wall Street is whining.

To become as focused and influential as the Tea Party, what Occupy Wall Street needs a simple set of goals. Not a top 10 list — that’s too unwieldy, and too unfocused. Instead, a simple 3 part agenda, that responds to some very basic problems regardless of political party. It must address the key issues, have a specific legislative agenda, and finally, effect lasting change. By keeping it focused on the foibles of Wall Street, and on issues that actually matter, it can become a rallying cry for an angry nation.
I suggest the following three as achievable goals that will have a lasting impact:
1. No more bailouts: Bring back real capitalism
2. End TBTF banks
3. Get Wall Street Money out of legislative process
Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1. No more bailouts/Bring Back Real Capitalism!

The United States was once a capitalist system. Companies lived and died on their own successes. “Corporate Welfare” – the term coined by Wisconsin senator William Proxmire – came into being in 1971 with the bailout of Lockheed Aircraft. Thus began a run of corporatism and bailouts of connected companies, not capitalism. Some firms, less than successful in a competitive marketplace, chose instead to suckle at the teat of the public trough. Innovation, execution and hard work were replaced with lobbying, crony capitalism and bailouts of failure. Of course, all paid for by taxpayers.

“Socialism for bankers, wrenching capitalism for the working stiff” is not a slogan you are likely to see on a bumper sticker anytime soon. But that’s wht the US had morphed into.

America needs to end this system of spoils. There should be no more bailouts, no more crony capitalism, no more government determined winners and losers. We simply cannot live in a society of privatized gains and socialized losses.

2. End Too Big To Fail /Restore Competition

As George Shultz once said, “”If they’re too big to fail, make them smaller.” The current economic approach of “Too Big to Fail” is itself a failure. It reduces economic competition, concentrates risk, and raises costs for consumers.

I agree with University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC) professor of Economics and Law William Black, who notes that the TBTF moniker is misleading. We should start calling these firms by the more accurate phrase “Systemically Dangerous Institutions” (SDIs). TBTF makes it sound like the size is the problem – in reality, the systemically, regardless of size, is what we should be focused on. SDI is an accurate phrase, and appropriately pejorative.

The TBTF size has brought a different set of problems: The bailouts have made the top 10 SDI an even bigger, less competitive oligarchy. We need to bring back competition by limiting the size of these firms. We can do that by capping their deposits, in terms of total percentage or a specific dollar amounts. There are many ways to accomplish this, including an FDIC caps on deposit insurance. And if the OWS people were smart, they would bring in former FDIC chair Sheila Bair (now private citizen) into the discussion.

3. Take Congress back from Wall Street

Whatever changes come, they will only be temporary if the current system of spoils is allowed to continue. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on campaign finance reform, finding against voters and in favor of corporate interests. The only way to take the government back is a Constitutional Amendment.

The United States has become a “corporatocracy.” Campaign finance and lobbying money has so utterly corrupted Congress that we might as well put elected officials up for bid on eBay – that is how corrupted the system has become. We have even seen the State Attorneys Generals become targets of aggressive lobbying, most recently in Florida. We must become a democracy again, where one man one vote matters. To do that, Wall Street money must be taken out of the process.

The only way to accomplish that goal and have it withstand Supreme Court review is a Constitutional Amendment, mandating public financing of Congressional elections and criminalizing the purchases of politicians. We need to marginalize lobbyists, and make voters the most important people in the nation (again).

A national campaign to get that amendment on every ballot in every state should be the objective.

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