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Arsenals of Folly

Arsenals of Folly

By Richard Rhodes

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Live Chat: Robert Scheer on the Economy

Posted on Aug 12, 2010

(Page 3)

11:40 Comment From gerard

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:40:52 GMT

Comment: My concern is with the notion of “deserving” privilege and power. It is rampant among Republicans who think poor people “deserve” to be poor because (insert any reason whatever). The idea is also encouraged by religions—the faithful “deserve” this or that special treatment. Democracy can be destroyed by people who think “the masses” don’t “deserve” to succeed, etc. The idea of special privilege as a mark of having “worked to earn” something which ought to be a legitimate entitlement.

11:41 Robert Scheer


Square, Site wide

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:41:01 GMT


 Well, his [Zakaria’s] function is to be a lap dog to the powerful and rich and influential. This whole notion of the interview with powerful people has become an effort to find ratings, but it puts you at the mercy of whatever game they want to play. First of all, understand something about the mass media which we rarely discuss: It is owned by the very same people, the very same forces, the very same interests that have created this problem and are now exploiting our misery.

I remember when the financial deregulation was being passed in the 1990s.I was a reporter and then a columnist for the L.A. Times. I remember well that very few serious journalists were in attendance. Mostly it was representatives of the banking industry and the lobbyists. There was no pressure from the leaders of the mainstream media to in any serious way cover this fundamental revision of the American economy. And to the degree that it was covered—and this is documented in my new book—that the established media, sadly enough led by what is unquestionable our best media organization, the NYT, performed the role of cheerleaders, for a radical financial deregulation. The vision of Ronald Reagan to effectively end FDR’s New Deal legislation, [an end] which was brought to fruition by Bill Clinton, was passed to the accompaniment of cheers from the financial writers, editorial writers and the lead TV personalities. And they bought the assurance from the owners of their news organizations and the friends of the owners that this sort of reform was long overdue. So I would say the biggest problem is that the mass media responds more to the concerns of rich, powerful investors than it does to the needs of average consumers and working people. And if you go back and look at how these issues are covered, it has only gotten worse as we’ve seen the concentration of media in fewer and fewer hands, and the L.A. Times, which I worked for, will emerge from bankruptcy, as I understand the latest reports, owned by the same investors in Wall Street, Morgan Chase, that created the problem.

11:41 Truthdig

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:41:09 GMT


 Last question…

11:41 Comment From Jason

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:41:12 GMT

Comment: What are guys like Rubin so afraid of in admitting their mistakes? It’s not like he’s gonna have trouble finding his next job and he’s not hurting for money. Is it all about their legacy? Is it the same with Obama? Is he afraid to come out and admit his economic team and their policies are flawed?

11:42 starshollowgzt via twitter

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:42:22 GMT


 RT @Truthdig: Live Now! Q-A Robert Scheer: Robert Scheer on the Economy - Truthdig

11:47 Robert Scheer

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:47:40 GMT


 Well, as far as Rubin, I do think he’s long been concerned about his legacy. He spent an awful lot of time—this last interview with CNN was an example—creating an image of himself as a liberal, progressive, enlightened, concerned financier. And I think were he or anyone to take an honest view of his activities, first at Goldman Sachs, then going into the Clinton administration as secretary of the treasury, then leaving the Clinton administration to take a top position at Citigroup—a massive banking institution allowed to grow to be too big to fail because of legislation that Rubin had pushed. I think I’ve laid out the record in this book—buy it somewhere, hopefully—the record is very clear. Now, he could say he’s wrong. He hasn’t, by the way. Bill Clinton is on record saying that the advice he got on derivatives was wrong and he shouldn’t have listened to them. Rubin has said the opposite—he’s always right. I do think it’s a question of ego. But I also think that if our government agencies ever get around to looking critically about what these folks did, they might assess civil and maybe even criminal penalties; after all, a lot of people have been hurt by these games that people like Rubin played. And some consequences should be in order.

As for Obama, as your question implies, he clearly is acting as if he has to stay the course. This has ruined the careers of his predecessors, whether that course involved a war that made no sense or economic policies that make no sense. I think the mark of great leadership is the ability, as Lincoln demonstrated, to say you’ve been wrong and to go another way. I think that Obama has that possibility, but if he remains wedded to the Summers/Geithner machine, I think it will not be a happy ending for him or the American public.

And on that cheerful note, why don’t we wrap it up and meet again next week? 

11:47 Truthdig

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:47:43 GMT


 Thanks everyone. Thanks, Bob, and congratulations on your new book.

11:48 Sentletse via twitter

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:48:16 GMT


 Robert Rubin, ex US Treasury Secretary under Clinton, was paid $126m during his 10 year tenure as a Citigroup director. #FareedGPS

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By felicity, August 13, 2010 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

As our economic system stands, and as long as it is
accepted as the system we want to live under and we are
averse to changing it, the fact is that Main Street
needs the capital of Wall Street to function and Wall
Street does not need Main Street to function (and

And as long as Washington can rely on living off the
fat of the paper economy (Wall Street,) Washington is
not about to change the system.

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