The Single best Occupy Wall Street video I’ve seen.

Via on Oct 9, 2011

Strengthen those three regulations that FDR put in place after the Crash…

…and We the People have real protections against corruption and greed—providing once more the conditions that allow for a stable, strong middle class…that in turn makes an economic and society-wide golden age possible, once again.

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Text:

WARREN

Secretary Paulson went to the congress and said, “I need money and I need it fast and I need a lot of flexibility on how to spend it.” And congress, believing they were facing an emergency, believing the secretary of treasury, said, “We’ll give you the money and we’re going to give you a lot of flexibility and we’re gonna put an oversight panel in place and an inspector general to check to make sure the checks go where they’re supposed to.” And– you know, I understand the move. I really do. I understand it was a difficult choice for congress. But I understand reasonably
saying this is an emergency. You don’t stand behind the fire fighter and say, “Hey, spare a little more water over there and turn up your pressure and aim your hose this way.” I understand that.
You repose great confidence. You give great flexibility to the one on the front line who says,
“I’ve gotta fix this problem. It’s an emergency.”

RATHER

Does the treasury department have too much discretionary power in your judgment?

WARREN

You know, it’s a– it’s a very hard choice. We’re still in crisis. Indeed, the crisis has deepened since Secretary Paulson was–

RATHER

By the way, there’s no doubt in your mind about that?

WARREN

No.

RATHER

We’re– we’re in a very deep, downward spiral?

WARREN

We– we are in a very deep crisis at this moment. We are– we are in a very precarious position.
So I still work with the fire fighter metaphor. I think that having congress try to point in different directions would– would not be the most effective way to design a system to get us out of this problem.

RATHER

If we, the people are to give the treasury secretary a lot of discretionary power, and his power comes from the president, whom we’ve elected, then how much transparency do we have a right to demand? And how much should we practically demand?

WARREN

One hundred percent. I’m– I’m sorry. I’m just– I’m– absolutely, there is no room for ambiguity here. Complete transparency.

The U.S. treasury invested about $256 billion in their first series of transactions. Secretary of Treasury Paulson said we invested it, This is just an investment on the part of the U.S. tax payer. You’re not gonna lose your money. In fact, you may actually make money. And I sent him a letter. And the letter says, among other questions– “Are we getting a fair deal? For every $100 we’re putting in, are we getting back stock and warrants worth $100?” Secretary Paulson wrote a letter back to me. And he said, “Yes, these transactions are at or near par,” which just means
every time you put $100 in, you’re getting $100 back in value. Sounds fair. Right? In other words, they’re just using our money to try to defrost the system.

RATHER

That’s what he said?

WARREN

That’s what he said. And he said it very clearly. Now, we could’ve stopped there. Said thank you very much, we appreciate it. Secretary Paulson, check off the box. But we decided what we should do is make an independent investigation. And here was the bottom line; lot of number crunching, for every $100 we put in, we got $66 back.

RATHER

Well, that wasn’t the deal?

WARREN

That wasn’t the deal. And here’s the problem– you put in $100 and get $66 back, you do it often enough– and in this particular case you end up about $78 billion short. That is, what Secretary Paulson said, was an even deal– missed by $78 billion.

RATHER

I think people have trouble with this. Maybe boiling it down and say it was either a dumb mistake, maybe that’s what we’re saying, but a mistake or the people that designed it know was going to go but didn’t level with we, the people.

WARREN

I think that’s right. I– I wish I could say otherwise. But I think that’s right.

RATHER

You think they didn’t level with us?

WARREN

I know they didn’t level with us. I mean– for Secretary Paulson to describe this as a par transaction after he had plenty of time to think about it– he didn’t describe it just as a par transaction on the day it happened back in October. It was a letter December 30th addressed to me as chair of oversight. And he said, “Oh yes, that’s what it was; a par transaction, $100 for $100.” And the numbers just show flatly it was not.
We need to see it and see it all. It cannot be the case that there is a single American citizen who has any doubt about how these transactions are going forward, who’s getting what, what kind of influence is brought to bear. We simply have no more room for that sort of thing.

RATHER

Now, where is the mechanism that will demand and get that kind of transparency?

WARREN

…ultimately it’s making sure that the American people are informed, engaged and ready to speak up. That’s what makes the real difference here.

RATHER

Now the president announced that he was “capping pay for executives at banks receiving bailout money”?

WARREN

Yes.

RATHER

I think that’s a direct quote and certainly a– an accurate paraphrase. Now, immediately there are those people say, “Listen, you can’t do that because if you do that you’re gonna lose the best people. And you’re not gonna be able to recruit the best people.” Do you believe that?

WARREN

No. Lose the best people? Are we talkin’ about losing the people who got us in to this mess? And tell me exactly where it is they’re going to go. You know, it’s not like this is an industry that’s desperate to hire more people to run these businesses. Let me tell you how it works in the world outside financial services and treasury putting in billions of dollars. I work in the world of chapter 11.

RATHER

Bankruptcy.

WARREN

That’s right, bankruptcy. You take a big publicly traded company into bankruptcy and what the data show is that the CEOs nearly always A, lose their jobs and B, never get a job anywhere else in a big company.

RATHER

But you are in this world. I mean, you know this world. Again, for– for regular people, w you say to them– we are a people who believe that our whole country is based on merit. you perform well, you get a promotion, you get a raise, you do well.

WARREN

That’s right.

RATHER

You don’t perform well, you’re off the team.

WARREN

That’s right.

RATHER

What happened?

WARREN

That’s right. So far treasury is paying and that means he who pays– calls the tune. And the tune is that the CEOs get to stay. And they get to collect a lot of money while they do it.

RATHER

Well– now– the new treasury secretary, Mr. Geithner has announced changes for banks getting future funds. First of all, what are those changes? And the core question is will those changes help?

WARREN

Right now we’re– we’re getting the headline version. And I hate to say it but in an area like this, the devil’s in the details. So, here’s the good news. There are sounds coming from the other side of the wall. And the– the sounds are we need to do more with transparency. We need to do more with accountability. We need to structure a– an overall plan. The sounds are– are there. But the details aren’t in place yet. So– so, we just– we– we wait. But– but I wanna be clear. This doesn’t change my job in the slightest because my job remains the same. And that’s to keep asking the questions, to keep insisting that we need more transparency, more accountability, a
clearer structure for how this plan is going to work. And I’ll keep asking those questions regardless of who’s sitting in the treasury office.

RATHER

Everybody knows now, unless they’ve been on another planet, this started with t
loans. And when government first started talking about doing something it was t
owners.

WARREN

Yes.

RATHER

Keep home owners in the homes if they possibly can.

WARREN

Yep.

RATHER

Now, what have we learned about that always succeeding in doing that? If we– have we even started to succeed in doing that?

WARREN

You know, when congress first allocated the $700 billion, one of the very few indications of– of direction that it gave to the treasury department was do something about mortgage foreclosures. Help find a way to stem this– this downward spiral that’s getting us more foreclosures, dragging down housing prices and in turn, dragging down the whole economy. Not one step was taken in
that direction under Secretary Paulson. Not one.

RATHER

That’s going to strike a lot of people, including this person as incredible. Is that true?

WARREN

Well, we raised it in our December report. We raised it in our January report. And we have now raised it in our February report. Not one cent.

RATHER

You did a special report on regulation. Take us back quickly over the last 25 years. What’s happened to regulation or supposed to have happened to regulation.

WARREN

So– so, here’s one way to look at it. In 1792 our young republic, George Washington is president, hits its first economic crisis. And credit markets freeze. Does this sound familiar?

RATHER

Yes, it does.

WARREN

And– it almost brings the country to its knees. And here’s what happens. About every 15 to 20 years we have another crisis. We call them panics. We have different names for them.

RATHER

Depression?

WARREN

Depression. But they happen about every 15 to 20 years for 140 years. The pattern is just unmistakable. Then we hit the Great Depression.

And coming out of the Great Depression we put three new regulations in place; Glass Stiegel, which divides our community banks basically from the Wall Street investment banks, FDIC insurance, put money in the bank and know that it’s safe and some SEC regulations so you can invest on Wall Street and they can’t cheat you too directly. That’s what we put in place.

For 50 years we have no bank failures, no major crises.

It works.

Now, there’s innovation. There’s change. It’s time to change regulations. It gets to be the early 1980s. And what do we do? Instead of saying new products, we need to change regulations to adapt, we take a different path. We say–

RATHER

We let banks to go in the insurance business and vice versa?

WARREN

Let’s deregulate. That’s exactly right. We begin to break down the old regulations. We say, “Who needs regulations? They’re so pokey. So old.” So, we go with this idea of let’s get rid of regulation and what happens? Late 1980s, savings and loan crisis should’ve been a warning.
Late 1990s, remember long term capital management, hedge fund? Should’ve been a warning. But we let it go. Early 2000s, Enron, bad books, not telling the truth. Should’ve been a warning.
But we let it go. And where do we end up? In the biggest crisis since the– Great Depression.
Markets are wonderful. They produce great wealth for us. But they are by their very nature something we call pro-cyclical. When they’re going up, they chase themselves up. Hey, wow, it’s doin’ great! Up they go. And when the go down, they chase themselves down. And they go lower than actual supply and demand would suggest. Now look, we can live in a world all ups and downs for the rest of our lives. We can say, “Who needs regulation? Let’s just ride that roller coaster wherever it goes.” But, you know, we have to remember when it goes down, it doesn’t just take down the people who gambled. It doesn’t just take down the people who invested on
Wall Street. It takes down everybody who’s got a pension. It takes down folks who have jobs in construction industries and– and other industries that get hit by this. It takes down– in this case, it takes down homeowners, people who thought they were doing the right thing to protect themselves for the future.

It takes down the prudent along with the gamblers and the wild ones.

RATHER

Which is where we are today?

WARREN

Which is exactly where we are today. So, we could say, “Hey, no more regulation. That’s fine.”
But look what it’s brought us. We are not willing to let these big financial institutions fail. We’ve got this too big to fail notion. So we are going to shovel billions of dollars in their direction and still take the position we shouldn’t regulate them? I– this is a world that may be a lot of fun for the high flyers who get theirs and keep theirs. But it’s not a world that works very well for ordinary families.

RATHER

What about the argument that says, quote, “When you boil it down, you’re talkin’ about us becoming a socialist nation.” You buy that?

WARREN

You know, I– I’m sorry. I just think that’s just silly, the argument that we’re socialist. Every game has rules. And this is really about where we’re gonna set the rules. Are the rules gonna be that you can be so big and so powerful that the U.S. tax payer ends up guaranteeing you, in effect, too big to fail? But there’s no regulation? That’s a crazy set of rules. If you’re gonna be that big, if you’re gonna put my future at risk, then I wanna be able to say somebody has to watch you and make sure you don’t take risks with what could turn out to be my money. That’s not socialism. That’s just good sense. You put me at risk? Then I want some restrictions on what you do.

RATHER

What should we, as a nation, be doing now in your opinion to prepare for the next economic crisis?

WARREN

What we do in the next six months or so, is going to determine the country we are for the next 50 years. We really have to decide for whom do we run this? Will the country be run for– for families, for– for ordinary folks?

Or will the country be run for the giants?

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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4 Responses to “The Single best Occupy Wall Street video I’ve seen.”

  1. Alice2112 says:

    Thanks for posting this Waylon!

  2. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Who said the Revolution would not be televised :)

  3. Kurt says:

    The video is great, but it doesn't match the text. Where is the video from which the above dialogue comes?

  4. EvanRavitz says:

    My agenda: 1. FDR's unrealized Economic Bill of Rights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=effDfpKYcVo
    2. Direct democracy to KEEP these reforms -and get others we need- by keeping the people in power. The best project for direct democracy is led by Mike Gravel: http://Vote.org Endorsers include: Patch Adams, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, "Granny D" Haddock, Julia Butterfly Hill, Ralph Nader, Coleen Rowley, Pete Seeger, Cindy Sheehan and Howard Zinn

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