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Dylan Ratigan Talks Reform With Benzinga Radio


After listening to his latest interview with Benzinga Radio, I'm pretty sure MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan knows he won't be getting a Christmas card from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner this December...if ever.

I suppose that's a small price to pay for being one of the leading voices in America to stand up and call Wall Street out for what it has become: a casino full of hustlers who think they are fundamentally better than the rest of us. They are the one percent; the easy villains currently being protested in hundreds of cities across the country by those of us who expect fairness, equality, and justice from our system of government.

In an interview with Benzinga Radio, Ratigan explained the very basic truth behind the various movements and social unrest starting to build in this country.

"There is an ever-expanding energy for the truth and nothing exposes that more honestly than the fed audit that is out today from the GAO that shows that the very people who were at the federal reserve were also major shareholders and board members at the banks that were getting bailed out," Ratigan said.

"That to me is the classic 21st century democracy, where they think it's the 1800s and they run it like it's the 1800s, but they don't realize that now everybody can see everything they're doing and then they act confused as to why people are upset."

And boy, are we upset. The democracy that has been so carefully cultivated over 200+ years has been hijacked by a greedy minority that has positioned itself as the sole voice in government. It owns both political parties, and it uses the very levers of democracy and the state against Americans, destroying lives and distorting the very essence of what it means to be a citizen, a patriot, and an American.

But they have not yet won, Ratigan explains. Nor does it seem they will win. We certainly have the numbers. I mean, 99 to 1? Even in the world of highly leveraged money, 1 vs 99 is a bad bet.

"The beautiful thing is that the frustration that obviously results from living in such a corrupt system is being channeled into incredibly peaceful and incredibly intelligent action up to this point across the board, including the massive surge under the petition for our constitutional amendment to separate business and state, which is now up over 215,000," Ratigan said.

Ratigan also had a column up at Huffington Post this week, where he talked about how Geithner and his buddies took what was essentially a joke on The Onion ten years ago and turned it into a reality: Platinum Citizenship. The idea is that, well, some people are more equal than others. And when the toxic assets hit the fan, the Platinum citizens get a giant bailout, sticking the rest of us with the bill...and a destroyed economy...and a housing crisis...and increased commodity prices...and an unemployment crisis.

Worst of all, we have no real redress for these problems, and no way to get government to do what we, the people, want it to do. Why? Because the Platinum citizens can donate millions and millions of dollars to bribe (yes, the B word) politicians into doing exactly as they please.

"There's always been two sets of rules in this country, one for the wealthy and the powerful and one for everybody else. But there's always been this thin veneer of equality. What's interesting about what Tim Geithner did at the Federal Reserve, first in New York and then at the Treasury Department through the bailouts, is that he made it mathematically explicit," Ratigan said.

"What he (Geithner) said was, listen, there are some people who are special and they are allowed to take a lot of money and they are not allowed to be punished if they do anything that might be fraudulent or dangerous to society. Then there's another class of citizens that will pay for that through student debt, zero percent returns for retirees on all of their pensions, as all of their base returns have been cut to zero by the financial crisis, a lack of employment availability, and a lack of investments."

"So there's two kinds of citizens: those who pay, through unemployment, through lack of retirement, through student debt; and those who are rewarded beyond their wildest dreams for participating in a massive extraction. They're participating in the sucking of America's blood and it is being supervised, explicitly by law, by the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, which is the origin of the true platinum citizenship. All of the sudden, the joke from ten years ago in The Onion is not so funny," Ratigan said.

While this is obviously not a good situation, it IS an opportunity for Americans to stop, look around at the world we live in, the country we've created, and ask ourselves: is this what we want? From the looks of the popularity of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, as well as the general dissatisfaction with both President Obama and the Democrats, AND the Republicans sitting in Congress and running for President, it is clear that America is unhappy with what she sees in the mirror.

How could she be anything but unhappy? This country was founded by men whose wisdom we entrust as our Constitution but whose words we do not heed. Consider what George Washington said about, essentially, what has morphed into political parties.

"The alternate domination of one faction over another," he admonished, "sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."

Is that not what America has become, politically? We rally back and forth between left and right, like a rowdy group of drunken sports fanatics, cheering on the Lakers versus the Celtics. We support all that the right has to offer, because that's our "team" and we oppose the left, as they are the "enemy", or vice versa. As Washington predicted, nothing gets done, problems go unsolved and we find ourselves beholden to a system that is, in its own right, the despot, the dictator, and the emperor.

"We all know this fraudulent lefty-righty, which is a guaranteed split, makes sure that nothing actually happens because everything is a political issue," Ratigan said. "So instead of resolving bank fraud, as a country, like rational people, bank fraud becomes a political issue. Instead of resolving health care as a national issue, health care becomes a political issue. All of the sudden, whether it is the well-bring of our economy or the health and well-being of our lives, instead of making decisions to try to get the most transparent and aligned interests across all interested parties, we have this lefty-righty phenomenon."

"The lefty-righty is a great media economy and a great political economy, and it is disastrous for America. I think the interesting thing you're seeing, whether it's journalists like myself or journalists like Matt Taibbi, or like what you guys (at Benzinga) are doing, or you look out into the atmosphere around the narrative of the Occupation, they are all a rejection of left-right principles. This is why it's interesting to watch the established left and right attempt to classify it, which it seems they don't have the capacity to do because when someone is moving forward, and all you know is left-right, you don't know how to react," Ratigan said.

His advice to Americans is simple. One, the best thing you can do is inform other people as to what is really going on. It will take a nationwide conversation to drown out the money and reform politics so we can move toward solutions that make sense for the nation.

Second, he said, "As people try to draw you into their lefty-righty madness, just remember, they're like a bunch of pig farmers. All of them. And they just want to sit in the pig farm and throw shit at each other, excuse my language, and what we're saying is, we're leaving the pig farm, boys. We're going to go have a real place where there is one group of people who want to work together to drive their mutual prosperity. That's our plan."

In other words, we should reject the idea that every problem revolves around a left-right axis. We should avoid picking sides, drawing lines in the sand, and splitting into left-wingers and right-wingers. And, perhaps even more importantly, we should do everything in our power to stop the current political party structure from subverting and then dominating the Occupy movements the way they took over the Tea Party.

"For the Occupation to become a vehicle for the Democratic Party would be the equivalent of the Koch brothers taking over the Tea Party. The Tea Party had an integrity in its rejection of the obvious unfairness of the bailouts at its genesis. Then the Koch Tea Party, the Sarah Palin Tea Party, the social-conservative, media-driven, Fox Tea Party came on the scene and blew out the credibility of the Tea Party completely by virtue of the fact that when it came to the bank reform debate, was pro-Wall Street," Ratigan said.

"When you look at the Occupation, and you understand that the person who is the responsible party for the codification in law the laws of platinum citizenship and too big to fail banks is Tim Geithner, who is President Obama's Treasury Secretary. That the person who is responsible for the foreclosure fiasco and refusal to engage on it is Tim Geithner. When you understand that the lack of prosecutions of any one individual banker in any way, shape or form is a direct result of the decisions of Barack Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder. For the Democrats to presume to represent the interests of the Occupation is as hypocritical as the Koch brothers' suggestion that they represent the Tea Party," Ratigan said.

And he is right. This movement and this discussion cannot be another left-right debate about anything, because ultimately, there is no right or left on these issues. How is there possibly more than one position on "Should bankers be allowed to steal trillions of dollars?" It's only debatable because we set everything up as political, and everything political becomes a fight between factions.

There is, of course, a way out of the mess that banks have gotten us in to. The plan is simple yet not simple, if that makes any sense. Ratigan's a bright guy and he knows his stuff as well as anyone, and even he admits there are details that even brighter folks than he will have to figure out. But there is a plan.

"We know that these banks are not investing or lending into this nation, that they are in fact extracting capital into a gambling parlor that is the swaps market. We know that. So what are we going to do?" Ratigan asked.

"First, we're going to have to put the swaps market on an exchange. But in order to do that, we have to separate the mission-critical swaps, which ensure oil, wheat, corn, and electricity have really good price-smoothing mechanisms to help everybody have an easier time paying heating bills and electricity bills — these are very valuable."

"But then there's another 80-90 percent of that market that is nothing more than an online gaming parlor that has no purpose whatsoever. And the problem is, because it's not on an exchange, they can't tell the difference between the mission-critical part and the online gaming parlor, so every time there is a problem, the banks use the leverage of 'if you don't bail out and pay out the whole gaming parlor, we're going to lose the 10 percent that you need to keep society functioning,'" Ratigan said.

"What you could do is say that all credit default swaps that are not aligned with mission critical services, that just exist without any underlying corporate or sovereign debt of any kind, are going to be reclassified as online gaming and canceled."

Yep. Cancel them all. It would wipe out trillions and trillions of dollars in debt.

"There's only one way to do this. We've done it before. We did it after World War II. We did it with the Brady Bonds in the 1980s. We did it after the Civil War. It's called the global debt restructuring. We've done it before and it's the only way we're gonna get out of here now."

"Now doing that, the banking system will go into a seizure. What you have to do is, simultaneous to that, have established a bypass lending system, through either extended credit to already existing non-Too-Big-To-Fail banks distributed, that could do lines of credit, or there are 50 other ideas from people who are smarter than I am quite frankly, that are able to create such a structure."

"Once you have a bypass structure, it's the same way as with a heart bypass. If I'm going to go into your heart, first I have to take a vein out of your leg and sew it on so that I can make sure that your circulation is working through there," he added.

With the bypass lending system in place, we could then operate on the broken organ — the gambling casino, as Ratigan refers to it — and get the system back under control.

"There is going to have to be a multi-tiered proposal. Any one thing — like if you want to break up the banks but not do anything else — will just crater the place. You want to just push the swaps market onto an exchange and force collateralization, you're going to crater the place. It's like open heart surgery. If I just crack open your heart but don't bother giving you an anaesthetic or have a plan, am I helping you or am I hurting you?"

That's precisely the question all Americans, right or left, rich or poor, need to ask themselves as they ponder this issue: Is the system we have in place helping America or hurting America?

Be sure to visit Benzinga Radio's homepage for this and many more amazing interviews. For the full audio of this interview with Dylan Ratigan, click here.

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To comment on this (or any of my columns), visit my user page at Benzinga. You can also reach me by email or on twitter @johndthorpe.

Posted-In: News Financing Movers & Shakers Politics Legal Events Global Economics Best of Benzinga


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