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Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs

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Posted on Nov 3, 2011
David Shankbone (CC-BY)

Chris Hedges made this statement in New York City’s Zuccotti Park on Thursday morning during the People’s Hearing on Goldman Sachs, which he chaired with Dr. Cornel West. The activist and Truthdig columnist then joined a march of several hundred protesters to the nearby corporate headquarters of Goldman Sachs, where he was arrested with 16 others.

Chris Hedges’ statement in Zuccotti Park:

Goldman Sachs, which received more subsidies and bailout-related funds than any other investment bank because the Federal Reserve permitted it to become a bank holding company under its “emergency situation,” has used billions in taxpayer money to enrich itself and reward its top executives. It handed its senior employees a staggering $18 billion in 2009, $16 billion in 2010 and $10 billion in 2011 in mega-bonuses. This massive transfer of wealth upwards by the Bush and Obama administrations, now estimated at $13 trillion to $14 trillion, went into the pockets of those who carried out fraud and criminal activity rather than the victims who lost their jobs, their savings and often their homes.

Goldman Sachs’ commodities index is the most heavily traded in the world. Goldman Sachs hoards rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock and jacks up commodity prices around the globe so that poor families can no longer afford basic staples and literally starve. Goldman Sachs is able to carry out its malfeasance at home and in global markets because it has former officials filtered throughout the government and lavishly funds compliant politicians—including Barack Obama, who received $1 million from employees at Goldman Sachs in 2008 when he ran for president. These politicians, in return, permit Goldman Sachs to ignore security laws that under a functioning judiciary system would see the firm indicted for felony fraud. Or, as in the case of Bill Clinton, these politicians pass laws such as the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act that effectively removed all oversight and outside control over the speculation in commodities, one of the major reasons food prices have soared. In 2008 and again in 2010 prices for crops such as rice, wheat and corn doubled and even tripled, making life precarious for hundreds of millions of people. And it was all done so a few corporate oligarchs, the 1 percent, could make personal fortunes in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite a damning 650-page Senate subcommittee investigation report, no individual at Goldman Sachs has been indicted, although the report accuses Goldman of defrauding its clients. 

When the government in the fall 2008 provided the firm with billions of dollars in the form of cheap loans, FDIC debt guarantees, TARP, AIG make-wholes, and a late-night label-shift from investment bank to bank holding company, giving the firm access to excessive Federal Reserve aid, access [the corporation] still has, it enabled and abetted Goldman’s criminal behavior. Goldman Sachs unloaded billions in worthless securities to its clients, decimating 401(k)s, pension and mutual funds. The firm misled investors about the true nature of these worthless securities, insisted the securities they were pushing on their clients were sound, and hid the material fact that, simultaneously, they were betting against these same securities—$2 billion against just one of their deals. The firm then had the gall to extort from its victims—us—to make good on its bets when the global economy it helped trash lost $40 trillion in worldwide wealth and huge insurance firms were unable to cover their bad debts.

The Securities Act of 1933, established in the wake of the massive fraud that pervaded the securities market before the 1929 Crash, was written to ensure that “any securities transactions are not based on fraudulent information or practices.” The act “prohibits deceit, misrepresentation, and other fraud in the sale of securities.” The subcommittee report indicates that Goldman Sachs clearly broke security laws.

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As part of the political theater that has come to replace the legislative and judicial process, the Securities and Exchange Commission agreed to a $550 million settlement whereby Goldman Sachs admitted it showed “incomplete” information in marketing materials and that it was a “mistake” to not disclose the nature of its portfolio selection committee. This fine was a payoff to the SEC by Goldman Sachs of about four days’ worth of revenue, and in return they avoided going to court. CEO Lloyd Blankfein apparently not only lied to clients, but to the subcommittee itself on April 27, 2010, when he told lawmakers: “We didn’t have a massive short against the housing market, and we certainly did not bet against our clients.” Yet, they did.

And yet nothing has been done. No Goldman Sachs officials have gone to trial. This is because there is no way within the corporate state to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. There is no way through the formal mechanisms of power to restore the rule of law. There is no way to protect the ordinary citizen and the poor around the globe from the predatory activity of financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs. Since our courts refuse to put on trial the senior executives at Goldman Sachs, including Blankfein, who carried out these crimes and lied to cover them up, we will. Speculators like those in Goldman Sachs—who in the 17th century when speculation was a crime would have been hanged—must be prevented by law from again destroying our economy, preying on ordinary citizens, hoarding food so the poor starve and running our political process. We are paying for these crimes—not those who orchestrated perhaps the most massive fraud in human history. Our teachers, police, firefighters and public employees are losing their jobs so speculators like Blankfein can make an estimated $250,000 a day. Working men and women are losing their homes and going into personal bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills. Our unemployed, far closer to 20 percent than the official 9 percent, are in deep distress all so a criminal class, a few blocks from where I speak, can wallow in luxury with mansions and yachts and swollen bank accounts.

What we are asking for today is simple—it is a return to the rule of law. And since the formal mechanisms of power refuse to restore the rule of law, then we, the 99 percent, will have to see that justice is done.


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By Chuck, November 4, 2011 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A big problem is the drug addiction our populus has to what the mass media presents as a “fullfilled” life. However, it’s a lot like the Matrix (or Chinese Food) you are full for a while, but for some reason that hunger never goes away. People serving food at Wendy’s think the only way to live a happy and content life is to live in a fancy house and drive a sports car. Now there is NOTHING wrong with working at Wendy’s (all jobs are essential and important in different ways for society to smoothly function) but people need to be realistic as to what makes a happy life. On the flip side, big companies who share HUGE profits, like Wendy’s, should be paying a better wage to their workers so that they can live comfortable/simple lives with their families. Heaven forbid they have to buy 4 beach houses instead of 5. It really is a problem from top to bottom. Unfortunately, we all know this corporate greed NEEDS to be stopped, but many Americans will have second thoughts because they are ADDICTED to their lifestyles (take the blue pill instead of the red pill). They live in this “fantasy” world where things are “equal” and everyone has a “fair shot.” What’s sad is that we are ALL commodoties. Even a guy like Tony Romo is ONLY a commodity. Everything is relative and I’ve done the math. My yearly salary is roughly 5% of what my owner is worth. Tony Romo’s yearly salary is like 0.005% of what his owner is worth…Lol. Now you may say “I’d much rather be Tony Romo!” But friends, don’t forget, I’ve had friends who make $22,000.00 a year tell me that they would kill to be in my shoes and I am still under the 6 figure mark. But again, even that, is another example of the “American Syndrome.” I wouldn’t want to be ANYONE else for ANY amount of money. But Americans allow money to define who they are and what they’ve done. And guess what folks, that is EXACTLY how the rich like it. This movement can (and will) succeed if people get angry and rise up. But ONLY if enough people get angry and rise up. I am 100% against violence - I don’t even own a gun. However, it just goes to show you how POWERFUL the media machine is that it SOMEHOW brainwashed all of us Americans to hate violent revolutions when that is EXACTLY how this country was born in the first place!!!! That is how good they are. Average people can’t see the forest for the trees though and that, my brothers and sisters, is what will make this journey so difficult. Next you have the system itself. It is BUILT for us to fail. I looked at starting a local third political party. I was planning on going door to door to rally people (a year before occupy wall street started I saw this revolution coming) to see how bad everyone is getting screwed and you don’t start a political party like that I came to find. You need to RUN for office UNDER the new political party and have anyone who votes for you write you in. So even starting a third party they made it very hard to happen. They have us all by the balls. Fact.

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By Leo, November 4, 2011 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Please, please, please let more of your friends, neighbours, co-workers know
about this article.  Only when the population wakes up from the pr/ad induced
coma will the human beings have a chance for a better life!  (The 99% anyway).

A society is only as strong as its weakest component.  If our politicians only caters
to the 1%, we as a society is doomed.

WAKE UP!!!!

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By RayLan, November 4, 2011 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

The vast collusion between
1. the rating agencies like Moody, Standard & Poor and
2. the trading houses like Goldman Sachs (who pay them)
3. the political system including Washington in which the president’s cabinet is well armed with CEOs from (2)

successfully bars the majority from access to the levers of power

The perfect political autonomy of the global corporate state has allowed it to expand even to its own detriment and the pending collapse of the global economy.

Thank God for activist intellectuals like Chris Hedges and Dr Cornel West who bravely pursue our only available option - an a-political protest and revolt against the main corporate criminals like Goldman Sachs.

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By gregorylkruse, November 4, 2011 at 5:09 am Link to this comment

This is perfectly stated and perfectly clear.  Hedges is beyond praise and criticism.  This is good because it saves me the energy I might spend on one or the other of those so I can spend it on getting my sorry ass out there somehow, and in some capacity.  I don’t want to be one of those hiding in my house while the corporate state does its killing.

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By ardee, November 4, 2011 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

Hedges puts his body where his words are, unlike the poison spewing and absurdly named,heterochromatic, who simply spews poison and then claims to be a liberal. Coward is what you are.

Miko, November 3 at 8:50 pm

One of my favorite citings, and thanks for it.

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By PatrickHenry, November 4, 2011 at 3:20 am Link to this comment

I wonder if a present or former president showed up if they would be arrested?

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By Leefeller, November 4, 2011 at 3:20 am Link to this comment

It has only been 6 weeks folks since the start of Occupy Wall Street, corruptions has a hell of a head start. Patience will be a needed virtue,... I will try to buy some.

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By EmileZ, November 4, 2011 at 3:00 am Link to this comment

RE: my painstaking (oh, the pain)

I dunno, I am probably impatient for the kind of response I want (or any response).

I think Mr. Nader was right and Mr. Hedges is pursuing the best available course of action damn it!!!

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By keratomileusis, November 4, 2011 at 2:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“A margin of wealth is helpful to civilization,  but for some mysterious reason great wealth is destructive…great display is heartless.”

“Authoritarian governments don’t like dictionaries.  They live by lies and
bamboozling abstractions.  They can’t afford to have words exactly defined. “

Civilization
Sir Kenneth Clark (1903-1983)

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By glider, November 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment

Great idea!  It would be valuable for the 99 percent to put Goldman Sachs on trial even if they have no power to force any accountability, at least at this time wink  If GS refuses to participate and defend themselves OWS can appoint them a “public defender” for them.  That is up to GS.

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By gittothepoint, November 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

You’re a unique inspiration Chris (read your latest book-it opened my eyes), one
of a kind.  Can’t be there but am with you in spirit.  This is the beginning-I feel it
and know it.  Frankly, I’m looking forward to the journey which lies ahead (the
WAR!) and am in preparation daily.  They’re not as smart as many think they are.  If
they were, this all would not be happening.  Lock & Load my Brothers & Sisters. 
The GOOD FIGHT has started and now is our time!

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By Bob, November 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It turns out that virtually all of the problems the Occupy Wall Street protesters complain about are the result of the enactment of policies that they support and in which they fervently believe.” “They are beating themselves left and right and as balm for their wounds they demand more whips and chains.” -George Reisman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University.

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By heterochromatic, November 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

If Miko is in prison…it might be impressive.

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By Foucauldian, November 3, 2011 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment

Great words, Miko.

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By Suzzy, November 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Goldman Sachs unloaded billions in worthless securities to its clients, decimating 401(k)s, pension and mutual funds. The firm misled investors about the true nature of these worthless securities, insisted the securities they were pushing on their clients were sound, and hid the material fact that, simultaneously, they were betting against these same securities—$2 billion against just one of their deals.”

When will someone arrest the thieves in Goldman Sachs?
If the American people allow this treason to go unpunished, then the country and its constitution and laws are useless.

The crimes committed are too serious to ignore, and Americans ignore the crimes at their own survival.

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By John Henry, November 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Now they really screwed up. This old man will have to come help the cause. We
thank you and are with you Chris. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=8g5flQUkFGA&feature=related

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By EmileZ, November 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

“We really have to ask ourselves….

What happens when we fail
(as you know, we don’t win all these battles)
Are we right even though we fail?

(and you might want to chronicle how many times we were right even though we failed.

and we were proven right
again and again and again.)

It isn’t because we are so superior
It is because when you take your conscience to work
When you have your priorities in order…
When you’re incorruptible
When you stick with the facts
When you have a public philosophy wrapped around them…

You’re more likely to be accurate than Bush, Cheney, Obama, and all the rest of them, who have other compromising restrictions on their minds and their sense of clarity.

There is something that afflicts us all, it’s being overloaded with information.

There’s so much information now that people try to keep up with it and they never can…

and instead of having time to take an information piece, and then turn it into knowledge, and then turn it into judgement, and then turn it into wisdom…

We are still overwhelmed with this daily influx of information…

Which makes me resort, a rare resort, to a poem by Edna St. Vincent Moll(???? etti) (I can’t quite make out the name - EmileZ)

Very short poem, this was in the 1930’s before the internet, before the huge rush of information…

Here’s the poem:

UPON THIS GIFTED AGE
IN ITS DARK HOUR (meaning the depression)
RAINS FROM THE SKY
A METEORIC SHOWER OF FACTS

THEY LIE UNQUESTIONED
UNCOMBINED
WISDOM ENOUGH TO LEECH US
OF OUR ILL
IS DAILY SPUN

BUT THERE EXISTS NO LOOM
TO WEAVE IT INTO FABRIC

very very well put I thought”

-excerpt from a perhaps overly introspective Ralph Nader speaking at the 40th anniversary of Public Citizen

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By Miko, November 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Henry David Thoreau was imprisoned for refusing to
pay taxes, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to
have asked him “Henry, what are you doing in there?” 
To which Thoreau replied: “Waldo, the question is what
are you doing out there?”

In our statist society, the only place for a just
individual is in prison.  Kudos to Chris.

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By gerard, November 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Brzvo, Chris Hedges, for telling it like it is! I deeply regret that, physically, I can’t be with you, but my spirit is there with you and all the Occupiers. Something good will come of this. Give all your strength to the nonviolence. It’s the new “spirit of the age” worldwide and these heroic efforts will help the human race turn a vitally important page of his/herstory—in fact the story of humanitiy everywhere.  Peace.

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By Outraged, November 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment

Excellent speech. I agree.  Where do we call to make
sure he’s okay?

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By heterochromatic, November 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

Chris hedges continues to state truth and spew BS at the very next moment.

a waste of a good brain.

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By Blueokie, November 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges proves once again his fearlessness to speak truth to power, which is
probably why he was arrested.  His willingness to “talk the talk, and walk the walk”
is an inspiration to many.  He has to be considered with others such as Chomsky,
and Zinn, as one of the worlds top public intellectuals.  Godspeed Chris, and thank
you.

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