Crooks and Liars has Jim Cramer’s appearance on the Daily Show. There was definitely a moment of who-are-going-to-believe as Cramer tries to ignore the fact that Stewart has just played a tape where Cramer admitted that he manipulated the market and following it up with example on how to start a rumor and short Apple’s stock.
Cramer was all over the map, advocating criminal indictments, kangaroo courts, and positing his street-cred as an Obama voter. To me, he never seemed to answer the fundamental question: what does he see as CNBC’s role as an institution? Cramer, lamely, kept admitting that CNBC needed to do better without ever striking at the heart of the issue.
The focal point of Stewart’s criticism was how CNBC pushes itself as a reliable get-rich-quick network. When Santelli complains about bailing out loser’s mortgages, he fails to mention that no home owner is leveraged 30 to 1, unlike many investment banks that we are now pumping money into. The unbelievable sense of entitlement that the executives of bailed out firms demonstrate when simultaneously asking the government for money while threatening dire consequences if their demands aren’t met shows the accountability free and disconnected nature of the Wall Street aristocracy. Stewart likens it to Sherman’s march to the sea; it is more like Nero fiddling as Rome burns.
The problem is that CNBC could have been the early warning system to let the public know something was going wrong. Instead, CNBC cheered on Wall Street, and why not? Everyone was making money at least on paper. In reality, executives walked away with the real cash for illusory short-term gains and people who entrusted their savings in the market are left holding the long-term losses.
Michael Parenti has an article called “Capitalism’s Self-inflicted Apocalypse.” While, it might be a tad over-the-top. The real economy is based on work, not gambling. Until we get back to that foundation, and limit the tax that these middle-men can place on the productive economy by their arbitrary and obviously undeserved control of capital, disasters like the ones we are experiencing aren’t unexpected, they are inevitable.