From Rep to Rap

Wait.  Things get even better.  The irony and hypocrisy in my life is an omen for our nation’s financial crisis.

As of last night, every single Republican senator voted against taking the issue of fiscal reform to debate.  Public opinion has not yet become quite harsh enough to force the GOP to actually fight for the side of what is just.  Maybe the financial markets, what with the near collapse now of not only banks, but also countries (such as Greece, Spain, Portugal), will experience a tumble within the next few weeks that will force our narcissistic GOP to have a second look at fiscal reform.  Maybe, maybe not.

My dealings with my bank can only spell doom.  Mind you, the bank’s name is People’s United Bank.  Honey, they wouldn’t know what a real person was if they were smacked across the face with such an example of living humanity.   Listen to this.

So we are just about to set a closing date for the transaction when the same, infamous corporate robot informs us that she needs to verify our term and place of employment.  Reasonable.  So being the three-man show that we are, I told her that I could verify that for her.  She responded that she needs to talk to the HR department within our organization.  I had to take a deep breath at that point.   As I said we are a three-man operation.  We are not an organization, nor do we have an HR department.  We talk to each other, no doubt a practice that has no place in today’s world.  This concept was utterly foreign to Little Miss Robot.  Two of us have been employed there for 27 years, and the third employee has had a tenure of 13 years.  The robot Googled our office and saw that there was a partner, and couldn’t he verify the employment dates?  I said, “Ah, but if he only could!  He has been gone from our employ for five years.”  Little Miss Robot (You’ve heard of Lady Gaga?  This is my very own Lady Robo) responded, “But that’s not what Google says.”  Just shoot me now.  If Google says it is true, so be it.  To make a long story short, she insisted that the 13-year employee verify the work records of the two 27-year employees.  No gap of logic there.  It is a succinct formula for doom when the goal of a specific task is the fulfillment of red tape rather than a resolution.

The lawyer, our “advocate”, is no better.  He swears that he has been in our corner, exemplified by the hours he has billed us.  Another misconception: billable hours have no relation to the actual conflict resolution.  To the contrary: the more resolution is avoided, the more billable hours accrue.  The time expended by our attorney is actually inversely related to the timeliness and effectiveness of the solution.  As if billable hours justifies due diligence!  Dare I label this a conflict of interest, or go one step further and call it a black hole for ethical, professional behavior?  Call me crazy, but even David Brooks of the New York Times calls this reversal of sanity a farce:

And as for Fabulous Fab, he seems to be the product of the current amoral Wall Street culture in which impersonal trading is more important than personal service to clients, and in which any product you can sell to some poor sucker is deemed to be admirable and O.K.

In this drama, in other words, the establishment was pleasant, respectable and stupid, while the contrarians were smart but hard to love, and sometimes sleazy.

(The entire article is linked below.)  If this is the case, I would rather be a stark raving mad lunatic than be considered sane in the current topsy-turvey world in which we live.

No wonder financial institutions and now, entire countries, are collapsing.  There is no regard for human communication.  Rather, people work to fill out corporate/government paperwork and neatly place them in the proper slots.  Never mind that while the slots are getting filled up, no relevant information is actually being discovered.

So watch carefully how the GOP will either go down with their platform of bucking anything Obama, or if they will respond to the needs of their constituency.  One or two more financial crises is in the cards in order for the GOP to respond appropriately.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, will deter them from sinking the Obama ship except maybe, a huge hit to their own pockets and a tidal wave of anger from the people.

Do not let anyone tell you that all the drama of the last two years hit us without any warning.  There was plenty of signs.  The signs are still out there, but are continuing to be ignored.  This sticking-our-heads-down-a-hole to avoid a damaged rep is apparent in other areas, beside the financial world, as well.  How ironic, or better yet —- predictable — is it that within a week of President Obama’s push for more domestic, offshore drilling, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and is now creating an oil spill of epic proportions?  Even as we speak, the Huffington Post headlines read, “SPILL BABY SPILL”.

Yes, the United States should assume a greater portion of risk and responsibility for providing their own energy needs instead of just buying what we need from foreign countries, all the while letting those countries take all the environmental and personal hits.  Now, on the verge of expanding our energy production, the United States has to face up to the dangers of that responsibility or look for other, alternative methods of furnishing themselves with cleaner energy.  The oil rig explosion was a tragedy.  Yet, it couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time.  This is a warning signal.  Will we heed the call?

Similarly, the new immigration law in Arizona is precisely the catalyst we need to reform and adopt a sensible policy.  Where this law is so counter-productive to the real reform we need, its Nazi tone will force us to be reasonable.  Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post makes the case for this.  As with the energy dilemma, this immigration issue also teeters between doing what is right and what is necessary to correct a bad situation.  However, “leaders” such as John McCain, only add insult to injury in the quest for a fair, effective policy:

And what is the deal with Sen. John McCain? The self-proclaimed practitioner of “straight talk” was once a passionate advocate of sensible, moderate immigration reform. Now, facing a primary challenge from the right, he has praised the new law, which is as far from sensible and moderate as it could possibly be. Are six more years in the Senate really worth abandoning what seemed like bedrock principles? Or were those principles always situational?

Whether our problems result from ignorance, greed or just playing the game of “going along to get along”, our day of judgment is nigh.  People’s United Bank (is that ever an oxymoron), the GOP senators (and our  own Democrat, the lovely Ben Nelson), our energy mavens and immigration experts better wake up and smell the roses.  Any policy cannot be made in a vacuum of ethics.  Try as they continuously do, the selfish goals of our Powers That Be will be their downfall.  Doing what is right in banking, government, energy issues and immigration policy is not an easy or cheap undertaking.  But that is not an acceptable excuse for not doing it.

The bankers, lawyers and policymakers will discover that their sterling “reps”, when beholden to special and personal interests, are actually going to be their “raps”.

POSTSCRIPT:

For those of you who will jump on me for my broad generalizations of entire professions such as banking, law and politics, please know that my above experiences were mine and mine alone.  I am sure there are honest bankers, lawyers and politicians; I just haven’t found any swirling around my universe yet. But hope springs eternal.

Further, in the three hours that have lapsed since my original posting of this article, know that the bastions of finance are on the firing line in Congress, the market is off about 140 points, Standard and Poor’s has lowered the rating on Portugal’s debt and has also downgraded Greece’s debt to junk status, the oil is still leaking into the Gulf and the President of Mexico has severely criticized Arizona’s new immigration law.  Omens?  Signs?  How blind can we be?

The lunatics are out walking the streets and running our world while the sane ones are all locked up in the asylum.

POST POSTSCRIPT:

It is now six hours after I initially wrote this post.  Here’s an update:  the stock market fell over 200 points in response to not only our crumbling financial infrastructure, but also due to collapsing governments around the world.  Oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, and American citizens in Arizona are being arrested for looking “un-American”.  To top it off, guess what our Senate has been up to?  Democratic as well as Republican senators are now introducing a bill that would alter gun ownership in Washington, D.C.  Included in this bill are provisions to allow semi-automatic weapons, not require registration for any guns and permission to keep any and all guns in one’s house loaded at all times.

This is what is first and foremost on our lawmakers’ minds at this time.  Hell: if we cannot fix the system, let’s just allow everyone to blow it to smithereens.

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One Response to “From Rep to Rap”

  1. NatalieR Says:

    Excellent post. I need to sit back and think about it in relation to the Goldman hearings. First thought: Human beings need regulation and control NOT over control but they need boundaries where the legal and the ethical intersect. More to follow.

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