The Evil Empire

by Justin

“. . . I urge you to beware the temptation of pride, the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire . . .”

The biggest story of 2009, moreso probably than the inauguration of America’s first black president, revolved around the Great Recession and the implementation of the stimulus package that staved off depression. The current headliner is the latest revelation of Goldman Sachs’ greedy deception and the reckless, insidious profiteering of Wall Street. I am, however, mostly just regurgitating the overstatements of others. I don’t understand the way the markets operate and I still underestimate the effect of business on politics. And so I’m grateful for articles like this: The Great American Bubble Machine.

It really is all about the Benjamins. I’ve got a pretty wide Buddhist streak in me, one that aspires to moving beyond material pursuits and all the dangers of attachment – especially of the fiscal variety. That means that I generally practice disinterest in all things economic, including the extremes of booms and depressions, because the fundamentals of it seem insane. They’re also incredibly hard to wrap one’s head around with only a casual interest. Look, it’s easy to understand the major elements of the Iraq war or a natural disaster, but words like ‘dividend’ mean nothing to me. There’s no experiential reference point to me, so the paper politics of giant corporations remain a mystery. Even speculation is a nebulous word.

But Matt Taibbi knocked it out of the park with that article. Setting the context, explaining the insider language, and painting a portrait of a modern monstrosity. It’s beautiful and horrifying work. And I immediately thought about President Reagan’s Evil Empire speech, and pulled the quote at the beginning to strike at my own indifference.

Goldman Sachs, y’all. Mind blown. Meet the enemy.