It looks like Obama has joined the “Bash-the-Victims” movement that is one of the right’s talking points. However, he’s gone the right one better by giving it a populist spin.
This happened during his radio address last Saturday in which he praised the House passage of a Wall Street friendly banking bill, a bill that is high on spin and low on reform.
In his speech, Obama seemed to lash out at the banks when he condemned the “irresponsibility of large financial institutions on Wall Street that gambled on risky loans and complex financial products, seeking short-term profits and big bonuses with little regard for long-term consequences.” What he forgot to mention is that the “reform” bill will allow many of these practices to continue in all of their unregulated glory. But, when has spin ever spoken the truth?
Having given Wall Street a tiny tap on the wrist, he proceeded to stomp the shit out of Wall Street’s victims by decrying the millions of Americans who “borrowed beyond their means and bought homes they couldn’t afford, and assumed that housing prices would always rise and the day of reckoning would never come.”
Of course, he conveniently ignored that fact that the public did so because swarms of experts assured them that it was financially sound to do so because “housing prices would always rise.” This assertion came on the heels of decades of preaching to the public that consumption was the road to salvation. It was a nice little sleight of hand in which the decline in the public’s standard of living was concealed by forcing to maintain their old standard by plunging deeper into debt.
The only sin committed by the public was putting too much faith in “experts,” something they had been conditioned to do from birth. If there is a lesson to be had out of this entire debacle it is that experts are to be viewed with the most profound skepticism and their utterance are assumed to be incorrect until proven otherwise.
The irony of the bill is that it would not bar financial speculation; the speculators would just have to tell us what they were up to. It’s kind of like telling a criminal to reveal his crime, but promising him he won’t be prosecuted. It makes a break-in much easier to endure.
Once again we have another change we can believe in.