18 February, 2010

Welcome to Uncle Sam's Plantation

An individual with which I have had cause to converse on many aspects of "liberty" and "freedom" through a common friend on Facebook presented the following in response to this article on townhall.com:

Welcome to Uncle Sam's Plantation by Richard N. Mumm

To me, it does not strain credulity to see the “rich capitalists” opting for the pseudo-security of the nanny state. Certainly there are many who still prefer to rise or fall on the merits of their ideas and of their hard work, but the vast majority of American business leaders are no longer “entrepreneurs,” but rather “bureaucrats” who are skilled enough and politically savvy enough to have risen through the ranks of management at large companies and now find themselves “leading” perhaps hundreds of thousands of employees and grossing upwards of a hundred billion US dollars in a year.

If the truth be known, most of these business “leaders” couldn’t lead ants to a picnic. Their skills aren’t as product visionaries or as motivators of the masses—they are accounting and finance majors, who know how to make the numbers for the next quarter... how to leverage the company’s assets to create the illusion of even greater power, savvy, and wealth. But they are slaves to the stock and bond market—to the fund managers and analysts who dictate the destinies of their market valuation and hence their longevity as executives. For to have your company falter, even slightly, vis-à-vis the analysts’ market forecasts is to risk a fall from grace and an ouster from the halls of privilege.

So they become more and more timid—fearful of a misstep—more attuned to the vagaries of international arbitrage than to the markets they supposedly serve. They become Machiavellian masters of intrigue in the boardroom and expert at passing the buck and the blame—ignoble toadies bowing down to whatever power they see might prolong their reign another month, another day, just for one more hour. Risk becomes the enemy, they come to value the safety of certainty above the possibility of achievement and the government is the mother lode of certainty.

“Uncle Sugar” is really the only entity who can propel a business leader into the enviable position every professional gambler knows as “hitting the middle.” This is where the savvy bookie has found “takers” who will cover each end of a point spread, offsetting the risk to the bookie BUT, and this is the sweetness of “catching a middle,” they leave a portion of the betting line uncovered, so that, if the resulting scores for the contest bet on fall within a certain range, the bookie collects from both bettors but if the result isn’t favorable, the two bettors cover one another (the loser pays off the winner through the bookie). Thus, in catching a middle, the bookie collects a payoff without really incurring a risk. This is what the government can do for a business. In fact it was exactly what it did for investment banks who joined with commercial banks to create an unholy alliance that almost took down the economies of the industrialized world.

HOW? Through the government’s (read: the Federal Reserve’s) unlimited capacity to “create” money COUPLED WITH the government’s (read: Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac) willingness to underwrite TRILLIONS of dollars in extremely risky loans that, absent the government assurance of acceptance of this risk, sane bankers would NEVER have issued. BUT, with the government accepting the risk of loss AND the banks reaping the fees and interest when the loans were good, they had found that sweet spot promising UNLIMITED gain with NO POSSIBILITY of loss. Viola! The “bookies” had caught their middle—and what a middle it was. They couldn’t pump loans out the door fast enough (or rake in the cash proceeds fast enough). Profits soared, stock went through the roof, bonuses were stratospheric, God was in His heaven and all was indeed right with the world!

If you were a banker, you damned better be churning the loans or you and your company were going to be left in the dust and pretty soon you’d be hanging out your shingle as a former bank exec. There were few who didn’t get the message and still fewer who didn’t answer the bell with all the enthusiasm that hundred million dollar bonuses can muster.

Then the music stopped and lo and behold someone had stolen ALL the chairs. There was NO PLACE to sit down and EVERYONE was left holding the bag! Welcome to the present!

Welcome to Uncle Sam's Plantation.

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