Chris Hedges’ Speech in Front of Goldman Sachs Leads to Arrest

“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.”

Chris Hedges   Nation of Change    November 4, 2011

Article imageChris 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.

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.  [Emphasis WAMMToday]

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.

Article image

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.

 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.

This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally posted on Truthdig.
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By Published On: November 5th, 2011Comments Off on Chris Hedges’ Speech in Front of Goldman Sachs Leads to Arrest

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