Everybody Knows


Ten years on from the Wall Street Crash, it’s quite apparent that something is different.

I was reminded of this yesterday reading the Sunday comics, where author, Scott Adams, has one of the characters in Dilbert being confronted. “Weren’t you the cause of the catastrophe? Exactly. That’s why I’m the only person who knows how to fix it. Are you blackmailing me? No. It’s nothing like that. Wouldn’t I be rewarding you for failure? Let’s not label it.”

And we haven’t labeled it, but everybody knows.

Everybody knows that the criminals got away with the haul while the rest of us have suffered from the consequences of the epic criminality. Likewise, everybody knows that in the aftermath not one of the perpetrators did a day of jail time. Going further, everybody now knows that there’s a bifurcated rule of law–one set of laws for the wealthy and powerful, and a much more draconian set for us shlubs.

And now, as if we needed another reminder of the impunity of our ownership-class, Boeing’s 737 Max tragedies offer a stark example of all that wrong with neoliberal capitalism. Just like the Wall Street Crash, but maybe even more obvious, Boeing’s failures resonate with the public in a way that no complicated financial fraud possibly could. Only a few financial analysts understood the mind-numbing complexity of derivatives, but everyone understands the sheer terror of a plane crash, like the doomed Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max accidents.

It’s not hard to spot the parallels between the 2008 global financial crisis and the Boeing crashes. In both cases, years of neoliberal deregulatory efforts set the stage for tragedy. Much like the FAA with Boeing, in 2008, our monetary authorities, regulators and ratings agencies were starved of adequate resources and expertise to properly scrutinize the activities of Wall Street’s financial engineers. In both cases the foxes were left to guard the henhouse, with predictable results. In the case of the Wall Street Crash, experts such as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, assured us that that there was no need to regulate credit default swaps because the banks could regulate themselves. We all know how that turned out.

Similarly, the MCAS software that was going to solve the engineering problem of the new 737 failed, because it was based on a flawed solution–no computer software can fundamentally repudiate the principles of aerodynamics. And in both cases, the regulatory capture and inadequate financial resources accorded to the agencies tasked with oversight precluded them from stepping in before disaster struck. Hence, the FAA did not once highlight the risks of the new anti-stall system when it certified the 737 Max as airworthy some two years ago, according to the Washington Post. This is because Boeing had already attested to the plane’s fundamental fly-worthiness, just as Wall Street funded credit agencies gave the thumbs-up on dodgy securities. Consequently, both Boeing and a multitude of financial institutions post-2008 suffered “crashes.”

And, here we are, where everybody who has half a brain cell knows the rotten score.

I’ve come to believe that the last three years of Russia-gate hysteria are related to this unspoken truth, all so the mandarins who direct this country don’t have to face the fact that Americans elected Donald Trump president, not because they were brainwashed by Russians, or had any illusions about what a thuggish, self-aggrandizing buffoon he is, but because they were so disgusted with the neoliberal Washington establishment, and the global capitalist elites that own it, that they leapt at the chance to vote against it.

There is a dim awareness of this percolating sentiment on the campaign trail. For instance, when a reporter asked whether he had a message to the world. Biden replied: “America’s coming back like we used to be — ethical, straight, telling the truth . . . supporting our allies, all those good things.”

Ha, ha. Tell us another one, creepy-uncle-Joe.

Leonard Cohen wrote an perfectly dark analogy of a country that talks a good game about freedom and democracy, or family values, or bright-shining-city-on-the-hill, but really, everybody knows.

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

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