A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on Wall Street banks moving their campaign contributions from Democrats to Republicans. The quid pro quo corruption that this story reported on was hardly shocking - we've known for a long time that campaign contributors give money with the expectation of legislative favors. What was, however, stunning was how both the journalist reporting the story and the bankers quoted in it didn't even bother to note the double standard at the center of the article.
Here's the quote that explains what I mean:
"The expectation in Washington is that 'We can kick you around, and you are still going to give us money,' " said a top official at a major Wall Street firm, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of alienating the White House. "We are not going to play that game anymore."
So the banks are feeling like they are being "kicked around" (which is hilarious considering how weak the Wall Street "reform" bills are) and they are miffed that "the expectation in Wasington" is that they should still give money to those who are "kicking them around." Thus, they declare, they "are not going to play that game anymore."
But wait - isn't that the game the bankers demand the public and the politicians to play?
Last I checked, the bankers played a decisive role in destroying the economy and running people out of their homes via foreclosure - they kicked us, the public, around. Last I checked, they did this with the expectation that when they got in trouble, we the public would "still give them money" in the form of TARP and Federal Reserve bailouts. And last I checked, the bankers want we the public to continue "playing that game" - and, as Matt Taibbi's new piece in Rolling Stone shows, we are.
This is not a complicated point to grasp: The bankers want to apply standards they don't want applied to themselves. The fact that this wasn't noted in the article just shows how deeply embedded and accepted such double standards are in our political debate - especially double standards that serve the cause of the super wealthy.
I'm not pretending to be outraged that Wall Streeters are deciding not to give as much cash to Democrats as they have in the past - the New York Times suggests this should be the big outrage in its piece, but news about which moneyed interest is giving cash to which powerful people is an irrelevant palace drama. Indeed, if anything, Wall Street not giving cash to Democrats is probably a good thing in the long run in that it may finally divorce the bankers from the alleged "party of the people."
The real news should be the potential wakeup call. Really, you'd hope the sheer arrogance of these fat cats would finally convince Democratic politicians - on behalf of We the People - to start applying the same principles to the bankers as the bankers are applying to them.
The bankers have kicked the country around and they continue to expect the country to hand them all sorts of taxpayer subsidies. We shouldn't play that game anymore.