Bankers and Progress

The whole world revolves around banks and bankers these days.  The G-20 meeting was ample demonstration.  Mr. Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, tried to hold a referendum on the deal struck with the French and Germans but he was quickly brought back in line — summoned and reminded of the facts of life.

Greece is insolvent.  Under normal circumstances the bankers should get nothing; instead they get back 50% aided by the tax payers of Germany and France, who will set up a loan guarantee fund of 1 trillion euros to facilitate new loans to Greece.  How will the banks recover the new loans plus half of the old?  By squeezing the Greek economy dry and thrusting austerity down the throats of ordinary Greek citizens.  The call for a referendum was the death rattle of happiness and prosperity.

This weekly column (http://ofthisandthat.org/LettertoPresident.html) owes its origins in 2009 to the  dashed hopes of liberals and others who thought they had elected a champion of their interests, only to discover little had changed — the bankers and the elite ruled the roost through their hirelings.  Below is a partial list of those entering/leaving the revolving door in the Obama administration.

  • Tim Geithner — the banker's banker and protege of Robert Rubin, formerly of Goldman Sachs (Chairman) and Citigroup.
  • Bill Daley — newly hired White House Chief of Staff comes from J. P. Morgan Chase.
  • Broderick Johnson — newly hired Senior Campaign Advisor — lawyer and lobbyist for Bank of America, J. P. Morgan Chase, among others.
  • Larry Summers — Consultant to banks and protege of Robert Rubin.
  • Gary Gensler — Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission — former Goldman Sachs (GS) partner.
  • Mark Patterson, Geithner's Chief of Staff, former GS lobbyist and Vice-President for Governmental Relations.
  • Diana Farrell — former Deputy Director, National Economic Council and advocate for off-shoring jobs, former GS Analyst, headed McKinsey's Global Institute.
  • Stephen Friedman — former Chairman President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board — GS Board Member and former Chairman 1990-1994.
  • Robert Hormats — Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs — former GS Vice Chairman (International).
  • Phillip Murphy — Ambassador to Germany, former Head of GS, Frankfurt Office covering Germany, Austria, Switzerland and emerging Central European countries.
  • Rahm Emmanuel — former White House Chief of Staff, now Mayor of Chicago, formerly with Wasserstein Parella, also GS connections.

To cover all the associations and interconnecting webs is too tortuous for a brief letter.

Look around you, the lights, the rugs, the telephones, the TV, the synthetic materials in the clothes, the furnishings, your method of transport, roads, rails, bridges, communications — even the transmission of this letter — almost everything around us requires science, technology and engineering. 

To look to the future, we need visionaries of the kind who made our daily lives easier, rewarding us with spare time previous generations could only have dreamed about.  Yet, how many engineers or scientists or technologists hold executive function at the core of this administration?

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