There’s One Law for Us and Another Law if You Work on Wall Street

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Cornel West: There’s One Law for Us and Another Law if You Work on Wall Street

Excerpted from Salon,

…how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life.

The rule of law, oh my God. There’s one law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street.

That’s exactly right. Even with [Attorney General] Eric Holder. Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all. The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he’s got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men. These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers—and poverty is not even an afterthought for them.

They’re the same ones who screwed it up before.


One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.



4 Responses to “There’s One Law for Us and Another Law if You Work on Wall Street”
  1. Henri Jordan says:

    For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:11

  2. Kathleen Burt says:

    The policy response to 2008 was an effort to save the banks and shore up the economic model, capitalism. Afterwards, there was a concerted effort to help the Working Poor (those,formerly known as the Lower Middle class,) Obamacare. This effort is still ongoing, as there are new court court challenges to the program. It’s helped millions of people, including parents of previously uninsurable children.

    But there is much more work to be done. The Warren-Mc Cain bipartisan bill updating Glass-Steagall for the 21st Century, which includes protection from credit-default swaps and derivatives (“economic weapons of mass destruction”, per Warren Buffett) badly needed protection. This is an important start. As long as banks can”swap” a home loan that “isn’t performing well” elsewhere, they are not incentiveized to help homeowners keep their homes.

    On social issues. it’s clear from the Ferguson story that towns with a population of 65%+ African Americans need to recruit more black policemen–perhaps returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan–and more black political candidates for local office. Other ethnic groups have done this, Irish, Poles, Italians, Serbs, for instance. Several young people who were interviewed in Ferguson seemed quite able to take on the job,

    • Kathleen, you have analyzed the issues well. Obama inherited a disaster, in part by illegal wars, the banking/housing collapse. The banking industry was not blind, they knew they would play out the mortgage destruction because they invented the method on which the collapse occurred.. No we haven’t fully recovered. It took years to get into this mess and Obama never had the power to make all the changes needed,thwarted by the tea party takeover in Congress.. Early in his administration there was progress in that direction. We have to remember that Wall Street eg and their supporters increasingly control the reins in our Courts and in Congress. Wall Street ‘feeds’ Republican candidates seized the South with tactics first employed by Moral Majority and Conservative Coalition in which they embraced the religious right in perfecting the Corporate or Wall Street goals of Capitalism. The hold it through voter id laws, redistricting and other methods that alienate voters. Far right influence controls our state legislatures in the South, who are busy making laws that limit or deny voters, disenfranchising minorities, women, elderly and poor. This alienation has and is leading to a Plutocracy. Politics are local. We need candidates that are viable and honest; minorities that are credible.. Political propaganda is funded by wealth; it overwhelms those who could dissent and drowns opposition.. Sad, but few really study the issues to know how to confront the ‘takeover’.or loss of our freedoms Complacency is deadly. Until our rights are so deprived we rise in riots, like Ferguson, we will sit on our ‘bums’ and let Wall Street run the show and control our Courts. Is it retrievable? Maybe gone to far now. We have a Supreme Court that is clearly partisan and controlled by conservatives who vote to give more power to corporations and their deep pockets. In federal courts throughout the U.S. we have appointed for life judges that favor big business and Wall Street.
      Can the middle class gain a foothold or have they already had the door slammed in their face?

  3. Peter Everts says:

    Sad, true, leading to eventual revolution of some kind.

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