COVER PHOTO/ART DIRECTION BY KIRSTEN SORTON; TATTOO BY DAVIDE
This Thanksgiving, some Americans will be eating turducken, a turkey stuffed with duck that is in turn stuffed with chicken. It started commercially in Louisiana’s Cajun country about 25 years ago, spread to much of the Deep South, and now, in what may be a precursor to Civil War II, is invading the North. Why don’t they call it ducturchic? Or a “multi-bird roast,” as the prissy English do? I will state right now that I will never eat turducken, and if Turkey and Dubai merge and become Turdubai, I shall not invite the Turd ambassador into my home for dinner.
Alas, turducken is being rammed down our throats. For example, while the U.S., Germany, and France are finally trying to thwart their upper-crust citizens’ tax evasion via Swiss tax and secrecy havens, the head of Switzerland’s oldest bank laments that these countries want to “criminalize the elite,” who do the stashing. I say that if the elite commit crimes, they deserve criminal penalties. What’s so radical about that idea?
In the U.S., the Republicans attack President Obama as a socialist because he wants to set up a government health insurance option. But among many repugnant things, the U.S. government, while Republicans were in the White House, took on ownership of American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and part of Citigroup during the fall of 2008. Big business is promoting — and profiting from — corporate socialism. In San Diego it’s called “public-private entrepreneurship.”
During last fall’s crisis, Wall Street’s big investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, officially became bank holding companies, so they could get cut in on the juice that the Federal Reserve was pouring out. Wall Street investment banks should not — repeat, not — be able to get cheap money from the central bank. In capitalist theory, investment banks are supposed to take on risk. The more we bail out financial institutions whose stupid and corrupt risk-takings backfire, the more we guarantee that such behavior will recur. Last year, an angry congressman asked Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke and former Treasury chief Hank Paulson if Wall Street should apologize to American taxpayers for the mess it created. Neither Bernanke nor Paulson would comment — a clear indication of whose pockets they resided in.
Now banks are taking big risks again while official Washington applauds. Banks are still considered “too big to fail.” World governments, including the U.S., should have told the banks that “too big to fail” is “too big to manage,” and not only that, but “too big, period.” There should have been moves to break up mammoth financial conglomerates and unwind the trillions of dollars of derivatives that brought the world’s financial system to the brink. But it’s now clear that any financial reform will be modest.
A battle is quietly brewing. Job hunters outnumber job openings six to one — an unprecedented ratio. Main Street wants the economy to recover briskly. But if it does, inflation is likely to erupt, because the Treasury and Fed have created so much liquidity. Ergo, Wall Street wants a soft economy so the Fed will keep distilling korn likker to buoy the stock market, even as the economy wilts and Main Street suffers. Washington DC is owned by Wall Street. Whom will our politicians accommodate? Silly child.
Gobble your turducken and shut up.
San Diegans are being instructed to dine on the same cuisine. In March, the media-relations team at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation sent out a news release taking credit for an article it had planted in the New York Times. First, the story bestowed laudations on Mayor Jerry Sanders for two real-estate developments that had been underway before he took office. Then the Times article asserted that “Sanders, who inherited a city in financial crisis — its water and sewer systems deteriorating, its pensions underfunded and its municipal bond ratings low — has overseen a turnaround that has helped restore the city’s fiscal health.” Nonsense. What turnaround? The pension system is worse off than ever, and so are the sewer and water systems.
Keep in mind that the City of San Diego pours money into that Regional Economic Development Corporation, whose publicity machine boasted about the role it played planting the false story printed by the Times. Nonetheless, in a speech on September 15, the mayor boasted that the Times “reported that San Diego was already a bright spot.” Hmm... Maybe some San Diegans believed it. They helped pay for the propaganda.
Sanders went on to denounce “defeatists” who oppose planned developments that will benefit his friends in the real estate industry: the expansion of the convention center, the replacement of city hall, the building of a library in the ballpark district. The mayor asserted that the projects “will be funded by revenues generated by the projects.” Ulp! That’s what the establishment said about the ballpark, and now it’s a yearly drain. Will the library sustain itself with late-book fines? Or the new city hall with traffic-ticket revenue?
This Thanksgiving, you are being told to eat shiitake mushrooms with your turducken.