Rich Guy Populism

CNBC host Rick Santelli’s recent trading-floor rant has made him the darling of the right. Apparently Santelli, just like conservatives, is trying to deflect blame for the financial crisis away from himself onto anyone else he can think of—in this case, the poor.

See, the Santellis of the world are used to being the masters of the universe, the toast of Wall Street; for decades, they were lauded as the captains of industry whose personal economic success went hand-in-hand with America’s economic success. They were paid unimaginably-large salaries to do what they did and they were told constantly that they were the smartest guys in the room. Lawmakers fell over themselves to roll back government regulations so that these guys could do their thing free of oversight or restriction.

But now the economic system they built has collapsed in on itself and suddenly “Wall Street” isn’t a synonym for success and wealth; it’s a synonym for incompetence, for mismanagement and fraud and bloated, undeserved salaries. “Wall Street” has become the villain in this play, with the Bernie Madoffs and the Allen Stanfords of the world serving as living, breathing symbols of corporate greed.

So of course Santelli and his millionaire stock trader buddies are angry; they’re being blamed for this mess, and rightfully so. Remember, there was no outcry from them when Washington was forking over hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the companies they worked for; it’s only now that the government is trying to help families on the verge of being evicted that the Brooks Brothers mob finds it’s torches and pitchforks.

Guys like Santelli don’t want to be remembered as the bad guys of this historical interlude. They’ve been told for so long that they were the geniuses who singlehandedly ran America’s economy that, even after they caused near-total economic ruination, they still don’t want to admit they were wrong.

No, rich stock traders like Santelli would much rather believe that this whole economic crisis was caused by a bunch of poor people defaulting on their mortgages; otherwise, they would have to admit that the $60 trillion they sank into the Credit Default Swap market–a creature born of excessive market deregulation–was to blame, making their greedy, profit-hungry ways the true heart of this crisis.

They don’t want to admit that market deregulation, free market fundamentalism and the cult of Wall Street is at the heart of this collapse, allowing wealthy traders like Santelli to make idiotic choices that let them pocket huge amounts of money in the short term while ruining our economy in the long term.

Want to know how much of a guru Rick Santelli really is? Here he is on September 2nd telling us that, essentially, the fundamentals of our economy are strong:

True genius there, huh?

This economic crisis has exposed the dynamics of our economy in stark detail–we can clearly see that right now the battle is between the people and the powerful. The powerful made millions digging us into this particular hole; when their businesses collapsed they gladly accepted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars hand-over-fist, but now they can’t contain their anger at Uncle Sam helping regular hard-working Americans in need.

No wonder the Party of No is standing on the sidelines cheering Santelli & co. on; they’re also looking for a scapegoat, and they’re hoping that the working people of this country can be made to carry the blame for our economic crisis. Why else would they rubber stamp $700 billion for Wall Street while obstructing $800 billion for Main Street? 


One comment

  1. Tom Awtry · March 2, 2009

    I feel our economic situation will worsen, before getting better, but right now there’s a “Street Fight” going on, where the winner must be decided first before solutions can be found and implemented.

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