How Important a priority is _____ ?
Back on March 6, 2009, I made two broad calls: One was a market call, the other was a political/sociological prediction. The market call (“The mother of all bear market rallies is coming”) was as good as the political call (“get long torches and pitchforks”) was as bad. Apparently, I can pick a market bottom but not a political one.
I am reminded of this whenever I travel abroad. It seems the public in Europe are much more attuned to how they are being abused by corporate interests, the government and politicos. In contrast, Americans tolerate a surprising amount of nonsense from the big institutions that run their society. It is as if we had our revolution a few centuries ago, and now we are on auto-pilot. So long as we are well fed and entertained — Bread & Circuses (panem et circenses) — the incumbency of elected officials was safe. We shall save the discussion of whether this makes McDonalds and the NFL the two most important companies in America for another time.
As it turns out, the public was slow to figure out how badly they were getting screwed. That seems to be changing. A recent Gallup poll asked Americans to prioritize what they want out of whoever is elected to the White House in November:
“Creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest when Americans rate 12 issues as priorities for the next president to address. Americans assign much less importance to increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and dealing with environmental concerns.”
Jobs being number one is not a surprise — the post-credit crisis economic recovery has been very soft. But corruption at #2 is a pleasant surprise.
Now, some of my European friends are going to say this is not only belated but obvious. Certainly, the bailouts were a terrible idea in conception and an even worse one in execution. But recent events have conclusively demonstrated how corrupted bankers themselves are — with Congress, the NY Fed, and the White House in bed with them for the past 3 decades. Its a gnarly hornets nest of corruption, illegality and abuse of law.
There are lots of thing we can do about this, but I have a modest suggesting that would be a good start: No More Wall Street Banker Treasury Secretaries.
There is an inordinate number of people who understand business and economy that we should not have to keep going back to Wall Street for Treasury Secretaries. It would be much better for the nation to find someone from industry who understands finance rather than finding someone from finance who understands industry.
Consider where we would be today if we put Citi and Bank of America into prepacked bankruptcy (as was done with GM).