In the last few days, I have rewatched The Big Short, read Poverty by America, written by socialist and author Matthew Desmond, and read an Ezra Klein op-ed titled The Problem with Everything Bagel Liberalism. The combination of all three is utterly depressing, but at least the Big Short had multiple entertaining moments. These days I might be as passionately disgusted at Steve Carrell’s character at the state of affairs. We might want to rethink this forefather’s shit.
Let’s start with the Big Short, based on the banking implosion of 2008. No institution did not have its hand in making money off mortgages, and the corruption was so deep. The Government’s reaction to this, although they had their hand in this too, was to pass the Dodd-Frank act to prevent banks and all their subsidiaries from taking excessive risks in the future. The best way to ignore that law is to hire lobbyists to plead the case to the Government not to follow those laws, aka SVB. And here we go again.
Poverty by America is more disheartening. The research is impressive as the book is filled with vast data. Sixty percent of the book cites where his information comes from. Desmond shows that keeping people poor are systemic issues that are good for the rich. The US is incredibly wealthy, and the narrative is we can’t afford to fix our problems when the rich financially benefit more than the poor with the overwhelming tax cuts starting with mortgages and other benefits. We could fix this problem, which would point towards a better world for all of us, but the chances of changing that narrative is slim at best. Highly recommend reading this book.
Lastly, I read the piece by Ezra Klein, who points to all the hands in the pot using all the mixture on top of an everything bagel as an analogy for the problem. The Government wants to fix housing and create a tremendous semiconductor business, but to do that, about a hundred lobbyists have foisted their pieces of the pie into these bills that we call “pork.” Some of it makes total sense, such as childcare facilities or using clean energy, but each small hand (or large hand) pushes the cost of these projects to ridiculous heights. Based on the banks, it is unclear to me that having private organizations build our needs will be much different after everyone takes a little bit to put in their pocket. Who could actually provide oversight?
So where do we go from here? Politicians toss out words and hammer down on the narrative that socialism is coming for you, or plain-out lies that. If you tell those lies enough times, people begin to believe them. Look at Fox news.
I sit on the board of the New York Housing Community Fund (new website and launch coming), and it has become clear to me the problem lies directly with HUD, which has not kept up its end of the bargain in keeping up the buildings yet holds on to oversite which makes zero sense.
I can handle espousing like Steve Carrell’s character about how awful, corrupt, and unempathetic we are as a nation while trying to change things. Still, I can’t take becoming Brad Pitts’s character who doesn’t believe it can ever be fixed. What a way to start spring.