I think it’s fair to say that Congressman Ron Paul and I are the parents of the GAO’s audit of the Federal Reserve. And I say that knowing full well that Dr. Paul has somewhat complicated views regarding gay marriage.
Anyway, one of our love children is a massive 251-page GAO report technocratically entitled “Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Policies and Processes for Managing Emergency Assistance.” It is almost as weighty as that 13-lb. baby born in Germany last week, named Jihad. It also is the first independent audit of the Federal Reserve in the Fed’s 99-year history.
Feel free to take a look at it yourself, it’s right here. It documents Wall Street bailouts by the Fed that dwarf the $700 billion TARP, and everything else you’ve heard about.
I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m dramatizing or amplifying what this GAO report says, so I’m just going to list some of my favorite parts, by page number.
Maybe you’ve seen it already. 500,000 people have.
The week before last, Alan Grayson appeared on HBO, on Real Time with Bill Maher. The subject was Occupy Wall Street. Bill’s guests mocked the Occupy Wall Street protesters, complaining they didn’t know what the protest was all about.
Grayson had a different point of view.
Alan Grayson appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC on October 10, 2011 to discuss the significance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that our Government has handed out $16 trillion to the banks.
Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. The GAO says that our Government HAS HANDED OUT $16 TRILLION TO THE BANKS.
That little gem appears on Page 131 of GAO Report No. GAO-11-696. A report issued two months ago. A report that somehow seems to have eluded the attention of virtually every network, every major newspaper, and every news show.
How much is $16 trillion? That is an amount equal to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. That’s more than every penny that every American earns in a year. That’s an amount equal to almost a third of our national net worth -- the value of every home, car, personal belonging, business, bank account, stock, bond, piece of land, book, tree, chandelier, and everything else anyone owns in America. That’s an amount greater than our entire national debt, accumulated over the course of two centuries.
A $16 trillion stack of dollar bills would reach all the way to the Moon. And back. Twice.
That’s enough to pay for Saturday mail delivery. For the next 5,000 years.
All of that money went from you and me to the banks. And we got nothing. Not even a toaster.
I have been patiently waiting to see whether this disclosure would provoke some kind of reaction. Answer: nope. Everyone seems much more interested in discussing whether or not they like the cut of Perry’s jib.
Whatever a jib may be.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing more about this. But right now, I wanted to keep this really simple. Just give folks something to talk about when they’re standing next to the coffee maker.
The Government gave $16 trillion to the banks. And nobody else is talking about it.
Think about it. Think about what that means.
My 16-year-old daughter Skye got a credit card application in the mail yesterday. I guess I should be glad that we still get them. If we didn’t, that would be a strong sign that we’re broke.
Anyway, the envelope for this credit card application said: “FREEDOM. Defined By Cash Back Rewards.”
One could say that those six crass words, directed to a 16-year-old, sum up exactly what has gone wrong with America.
Honestly, I have no idea how “freedom” could be depicted by, associated with, or derived from – much less “Defined By” – cash-back rewards. Is that what the Revolutionary War was all about? Cash-back rewards?
Don’t get me wrong; I like cash-back rewards almost as much as I like cash. But they don’t have anything to do with freedom.
A great deal of advertising, just like a great deal of political discourse, reads like assault and battery on the English language. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just read Karl Rove’s playbook, “Words That Work,” by Frank Luntz. Or Newt Gingrich’s “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Or George Orwell’s “1984.” (Note to right wing: “1984” was not intended as a how-to book.)
And one of the all-time favorite tricks of the tricksters is their corruption and debasement of the word “freedom.”
After all, who can forget the twisted phrase, “they hate us because we are free”?
When a politician speaks about “freedom,” it’s usually meant to deflect your attention away from the gross disparities between the rich and poor. To paraphrase Anatole France, the rich and the poor are both free to lose their homes, and sleep in their cars.
But there was one American leader who knew what freedom really means: Franklin Roosevelt. He recognized that the term “freedom” includes freedom from certain things: freedom from poverty, freedom from ignorance, freedom from discrimination, freedom from disease, freedom from war. Listen to what FDR said in his ninth State of the Union address, after he was elected to an unprecedented third term:
"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want—which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation."
It still is – 70 years later, in our time and in our generation.
My conception of freedom is that you can be all you can be, unchained by mass unemployment, bigotry, poor health and poverty. And it sure is different from Rick Perry’s, or Michele Bachmann’s, or Eric Cantor’s, or Sarah Palin’s. Janis Joplin summed up their kind of freedom this way:
"Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose."