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Financial Sadism

Imaginative Picture of the Marquis de Sade, inventer of the sequester and austerity

The financial sector, led by the banks, has always held the whip hand over its human customers. For example, in Virginia and other states, a creditor can insert a clause in a contract allowing it to get a judgment against the debtor from a court clerk, without bothering a judge with the need for a hearing. And when clever people fight their way past some provision, state legislators can be counted on to clear the way for the banks. Just look at the way the supposedly independent experts at the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws fixed the rules on perfecting a security interest in personal property for banks, or the way the Tennessee legislature fixed the rules about deeds to help incompetent bankers. In re Akins, 87 S.W.3d 488, 492 (Tenn. 2002). Congress allows the rich and corporations to cram down their mortgages in bankruptcy, but even in the aftermath of the Great Crash and its horrific impact on millions of Americans, the parties united to deny regular people the right to do the same thing.

At the national level, we have the National Mortgage Settlement, which establishes the amount of foreclosure fraud banks can inflict on human beings in the form of the National Mortgage Settlement, as Dave Dayen shows here. President Obama allows his captured regulators to ignore national crimes committed by banks, like money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist states, manipulating LIBOR at enormous cost to millions, stealing from supposedly segregated customer funds at commodity brokerages, failure to file Suspicious Activity Reports on Ponzi Schemes like Bernie Madoff, and fraudulent sales of various forms of real estate mortgage-backed securities to pension plans, municipalities and small banks around the globe. Then, to cover the banks’ losses on these phony securities, federal and state governments rally to whip the debtors into submission and penury.

Next up, we have the overt sadists, @FixTheDebt and the entire panorama of austerity freaks, who believe that a good beating applied to the serfs will encourage them to get a job, or at least shut up about their loss of jobs, homes, pensions, 401(K)s, IRAs, job security, and their membership in the middle class. Then they tell us how much better things would be if only the rich and their mega-corporations and their off-shore money were not taxed. Congress and President Obama just love this perversion, and add the sequester, so that government workers can take huge pay cuts, kids can lose Head Start, research can go unfunded, and on and on, but heaven forbid airline travelers should be inconvenienced. This, even though there is a consensus among economists that cutting government spending will slow down the economy.

On top of that, Obama’s solution to the fake debt problem is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He longs to whip those old people and people who hope to get old for the benefit of the job creators, who really need tax cuts. Maybe people will die early from malnutrition or inability to obtain medical services, which will really cut those costs. That’s going to happen to those people who can’t get cancer treatments because of the sequester. Hey, if rich people can’t have their tax cuts, we need to balance that out by lashing out at the old and sick.

It isn’t only the rich and their politician servants who enjoy these sadistic perversions. Take a look at the comment section on any article about the national debt. It’s full of people ready to take a beating for their sake of their betters. Just look at the auto-tweets of the masochists who support @FixTheDebt; people apparently unable to see the connection between the plans of that astro-turf operation and their own lives.

In his excellent book, Taking It Big, Stanley Aronowitz describes the work of Wilhelm Reich in the 1930s on why people are receptive to authoritarianism:

If humans have no inner life, they can be manipulated at will by powerful external forces. Whether by design or by intuition, the fascists were extremely sensitive to those sections of the population that had already developed a sado-masochistic character but were largely apolitical, and for this reason, were prone to respond affirmatively to their reactionary appeals. P. 154.

There are way too many sadists in positions of unimaginable wealth and power holding the whip hand, too many enablers in Congress and the Obama Administration, and way too many financial masochists rushing to the front of the line for financial beatings. It’s past time for all of them to grow out of their creepy fantasies of domination and submission.

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