Host Tom: Do these things live on separate continents? Do the Tea Party and Occupy sort of hook up at some point? How do you see that resonating?
Major: Sure. I think it's a commonality of economic anxiety, expressed in different ways and with different villains. For Tea Party the villain is taxation and regulation. For Occupy, the villainy is that we don't manufacture as much as we used to, and that we have a tremendous amount of brainpower devoted to the mechanistic side of capitalism, to making money out of the movement of money without creating well-paying jobs or building things in this country.
I think in broad strokes, those are the levels of concern. What I found fascinating and factually repellent about Newt and Bachmann's answers to Karen's questions, is that they want to associate ONLY the Community Reinvestment Act with the entire real estate and economic collapse. You simply can't blame all of it on that one government action. Remember, in 1999 we repealed Glass-Steagall, the depression-era law that made banking in this country, for lack of a better term, very boring. It was very constrained. You couldn't have insurance companies and banks doing securitization. All of that was broken [in 1999]. Three Republicans wrote that law [repealing Glass-Steagall]: Tom Bliley of Virginia, Phil Gramm of Texas and Jim Leach of Iowa. And the Clinton administration supported it, lobbied for it, and wrote it into law. And that made banking very exciting. And exciting banking brought us CDOs and credit default swaps. So you have two actions in Washington. Lowering standards for mortgages to increase home ownership, which everyone thought was a good idea, and these new creative investment tools, allowed by the deregulation of the banking industry, which allowed you to package them and sell them to global investors.
Tom: ... But all the Republicans are still saying this was entirely about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Chris Dodd and Barney Frank ...
Major: Which is a completely one-sided and utterly partisan view of the actual history.
Tom: I totally get it. And you've laid it out well. But what's resonating here? These are politicians. They're reading something.... do you think we've got an electorate that's sharing your view that we've been Done Wrong by Wall Street?
Major: Yes. I really do. If you say that everything Wall Street has done is
completely justified and defensible, you're going to lose touch with a wide swath of America.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.