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Bankers Gone Global -- Should Others Catch Up?
financial meltdown goldman sachs austerity

Goldman Sachs' Global Coup d'Etat

US universities, American music, Hollywood movies, and now Wall Street bankers are taking over the rest of the world -- at least until people keep land values circulating locally. This 2012 excerpt is from Truthout, Nov 27.

by Thom Hartmann & Sam Sacks

There’s one tie that binds Lucas Papademos in Greece, Henry Paulsen in the United States, and Mark Carney in the U.K. All were former bankers and executives at the Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, all assumed prominent positions of power, and all played a hand after the global financial meltdown of 2007-08, making sure Goldman Sachs weathered the storm and made significant profits in the process.

The Conservative technocrats currently steering or who have steered post-crash fiscal policy in Greece, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, and now the UK, all hail from Goldman Sachs. The head of the European Central Bank itself, Mario Draghi, was the former managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

For shorting the same "securities" it sold and collecting on "credit default swaps", that should have brought about the demise of Goldman, but with their alumni in key policy positions on both sides of the Atlantic, Goldman not only survived, it flourished.

Why are the working people of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy suffering under austerity and being asked to sacrifice their pensions, their wages, and their jobs? Why have thousands of homeowners in the United States faced foreclosure?

Why, despite mountains of evidence, have banksters at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street institutions not been thrown in jail for defrauding customers, manipulating LIBOR interest rates, and throwing thousands of Americans out of their homes illegally in a massive robo-signing scandal?

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JJS: Actually, the power behind the throne is much more extensive than just the employees of one Wall Street bank, no matter how powerful. If the rest of the ruling elite did not approve of Goldman Sach’s antics, the banksters could never get away with them. While Goldman’s employees might rule the financial sphere, there are other spheres within the ruling elite: the US military with nigh 800 bases worldwide, the hi-tech patent holders who now dominate the Forbes 400, and the oil families, like Rockefeller, who founded the banks that, with a few very rich others, became the Federal Reserve.

Further, if you have a job, even if it’s the CEO of Goldman Sachs, you can’t be very powerful. You’re working! The truly powerful don’t work. They just own. They let their more energetic in-laws and employees do the actual work. But those workers (and they are workers despite getting paid millions of dollars each year) never even dream of crossing those who really hold the reins of power, and that is the aristocracy.

America is not supposed to have a class of permanent rich based on birth (it rebelled against such), but it does, and it goes all the way back to the beginning. Even in colonial times, families like Roosevelt were winning state-held auctions of foreclosed land. To get the details and the full story, check out the work of G. William Domhoff .

The problem is bigger than just the rich getting something for nothing. They’re just better at it. Everybody wants something for nothing, everybody wants to sell their home for much more than they paid for it. Real estate is the one way that regular Janes and Joes can pretend to be big-time wheelers-n-dealers -- eventho’ every eighteen years, when the “housing” bubble (actually, land bubble) bursts, many of them get burned badly, not enjoying the insider connections of a Goldman Sachs.

Ironically, everybody should get rich from real estate, or at least the land portion. The value of locations is not generated by the owner but by the surrounding neighbors, by society in general. All the spending for sites in a region should end up in the public treasury -- via land taxes or fees or dues -- and then back out again as an equitable dividend to the citizenry.

If society did share the worth of Mother Earth via dues and dividends, then it could get rid of counterproductive taxes and addictive subsidies. Plus, it’d remove the value of parcels from mortgages. Then mortgages would only be for the value of the buildings, and buildings age and wear out. Once mortgages get shrunken, then the flow of money to Wall Street gets reduced to a trickle. Without that influx of land payments, Goldman Sachs becomes nothing more than another human-scale banker.

So if you want to solve the global problem of marauding banks, solve the local problem of speculation in land. The new policy is called “geonomics”. And every place that has taken even a small step in that direction has benefited.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Good Enough for Profit, Good Enough for Populace?

The Battle Over CEO Pay

Firms Keep Wage Taxes, Don't Pay Profit Taxes

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