Monday, January 24, 2011

Free Market Solutions

Every morning I wake up praising God and every night I go to bed an atheist. Similarly, I wake up thinking things can’t be that bad in this country, and then I look around and realize that, well, they are, they are. Is it really possible, I ask myself, that a nation’s richest and most powerful people can be so utterly lacking in patriotism and common decency that they’ll sit back and rake in money hand-over-fist while their country rapidly devolves into a third world garbage dump?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes, it is!” To paraphrase something I heard Thom Hartmann say, they don’t mind being rich men in a poor country. In fact, they are actually making money off of our impoverishment:

JP Morgan is the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States. JP Morgan has contracted to provide food stamp debit cards in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. JP Morgan is paid for each case that it handles, so that means that the more Americans that go on food stamps, the more profits JP Morgan makes. Yes, you read that correctly. When the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, JP Morgan makes more money. In the video posted below, JP Morgan executive Christopher Paton admits that this is “a very important business to JP Morgan” and that it is doing very well. Considering the fact that the number of Americans on food stamps has exploded from 26 million in 2007 to 43 million today, one can only imagine how much JP Morgan’s profits in this area have soared. But doesn’t this give JP Morgan an incentive to keep the number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program as high as possible?

In a more reputable industry — namely, the porn business — this is known as double penetration. On Wall Street it’s just smart business. If you’re good enough at it, Obama will call you a savvy businessman. Its most expert practitioners might even be rewarded with a job in the White House. The rest of us are left naked, gagging, and covered in filth.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once claimed in an interview that he was just a banker “doing God’s work.” Now his counterpart at JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon, can make the same claim. He’s helping poor people.

He’s also helping workers, because when people who use these debit cards have problems with them and need assistance, their calls are routed to workers … in India!

So what about the question raised in the excerpt above? Doesn’t this give JP Morgan a perverse incentive to beef up welfare rolls and maintain high unemployment?

No. According to a JP Morgan executive, up to 40% of people on food stamps have jobs. That is, many people who work part-time at Wal-Mart for minimum wage are still eligible for some forms of public assistance. So JP Morgan doesn’t have an interest in keeping us out of work. They only have an interest in depressing wages and keeping us partly out of work. That means you can have a fullfilling career as a cashier or a stock clerk and enjoy the ennobling feeling that comes from using food stamps. Is this a great country or what?

(h/t Politics In The Zeros)

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