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|User Info||AIM 2009 Grassroot Journalism Award Speech; entered at 2009-02-28 10:34:37|
Prepared text (slightly different as delivered, due to the "AIG Surprise")
I’d like to thank Accuracy In Media for this honor; an honor that two years ago, when I began The Market Ticker, I could have never envisioned being bestowed upon me.
The Market Ticker began after the Asian Market Crash of early 2007 when I began reading first quarter financial reports, including those of many banks that made subprime and “liar” loans. The outrageous accounting treatment that I found within led me to start writing, and as our current financial crisis deepened the web of falsehoods and fabrications has grown along with it.
Much has been written about the Community Reinvestment Act, about the role of campaign contributions and PACs, and about what can, quite frankly, be considered corruption both on Wall Street and in Washington DC that brought about the destruction of our securitized credit markets, a 50% decline in the stock market and both the inflation of and subsequent popping of the housing bubble.
The Market Ticker serves as a chronology of many of these events as they have unfolded, including the “back stories” that you do not find in The Wall Street Journal.
But this evening I would like to challenge those here and indeed all Americans: How does a nation with a strong conservative political presence allow this to happen?
Does not conservatism rest on the principle of the rule of law rather than the rule of man? Do conservatives not argue daily for truth, justice, hard work and, as Ronald Reagan said, “rugged individualism”? Is not the conservative movement supposed to be about full transparency in both government and finance, not layer upon layer of intentional obfuscation, deception and lies?
How did half of our nation’s population – the half that defines itself as conservative or moderate with conservative leanings – come to believe that it was ok to lie on a mortgage application? To put together thousands of loans into securities that were so complex that the printed documentation spanned thousands of pages? To sell a mortgage to a consumer knowing full well they could not pay. To sell a security out the front door to a customer, while shorting it in the next room?
How is it that our government has become so corrupt that Stanford Financial, now accused of a massive fraud spanning more than a decade, gave $250,000 to the Republican Senatorial Campaign – and nearly a million to the Democrats? Their lobbying successfully killed a bill that might have uncovered their alleged fraud years ago – in a Senate Committee. Partly as a consequence, over $8 billion in uninsured CDs held by Americans appears to have disappeared. Someone clearly got the best government money can buy, but it certainly wasn’t us.
How did Congress look the other way while our nation’s leaders – allegedly conservatives themselves - locked senators and representatives in a room one dark September night and predicted the end of the world unless Henry Paulson was given a blank check for $700 billion dollars that this nation did not have and would have to borrow?
We have descended the economic slope to where we are today because we, as Americans and conservatives, were willing to tolerate “just one little lie” in the pursuit of profit. As we have now seen, one little lie, repeated often enough, becomes one gigantic mess.
Private capital has fled our nation’s markets not only because of loss, but because of fraud, corruption and the willful blindness of our legislators and regulators. That capital, contrary to popular understanding, forms the foundation of our credit markets; fully 2/3rds of all lent and invested capital does not come from banks, but rather from private investors and sovereign funds. Our stock market has collapsed not because of economic recession but because that capital has retreated overseas or into the mattress where it cannot be stolen by those on Wall Street through their willing and complicit enablers in Washington DC.
Without that capital available to fund our economy, which government is incapable of replacing, we will experience a depression greater than the 1930s.
We have a challenge before us as a nation and as Conservatives in particular: to tell the truth, to once again stand for law and order, and to demand that “the bezzle”, or the undercurrent of fraud and deceit in our markets, be met not with a wink and a nod, but with indictment, prosecution and imprisonment.
Ronald Reagan called upon us to express our spirit of rugged individualism and free enterprise as Americans. He rolls in his grave tonight, along with Alexander Hamilton, our first Treasury Secretary, at the abuses visited upon our nation over the last decade in our markets and government.
I stand here this evening to call Conservatives throughout this nation to action – to refuse to tolerate that “tiny little lie” any longer. To flush out the fraud, abuse and concealment in all things financial, whether in government or private enterprise. To restore the soundness of our capital markets not by borrowing trillions of dollars we do not have and showering it upon wall street and main street alike, but by demanding that every balance sheet be transparent, every financial statement truthful and complete, and every transaction honest and easily understood.
Our nation can get through this difficult time. We can rebuild our capital markets and restore the health of our finances, both as a nation and individually. To do so we must recognize that whether we are a government or an individual it is not possible to spend more than we make, that you cannot borrow your way to prosperity, and that we can only retain and grow our nation’s birthright as the bastion of capitalism so long as the rule of law triumphs over those who would lie, cheat and steal for a buck. May we find it within ourselves to put these principles into action, and restore America’s status as the world’s economic engine.
I look forward to the day that The Market Ticker will no longer have a purpose in providing commentary on the obfuscations of our government in matters economic along with the malfeasance and misfeasance of robber barons disguised as capitalists. With the help of Conservatives everywhere, that day, along with a return to prosperity for our great nation, will arrive soon.