George Knapp was joined by filmmaker and veteran journalist Danny Schechter, who discussed the fraud perpetrated on the nation by Wall Street and the factors which played a role in the current financial crisis. While the media has portrayed the meltdown as the result of a series of blunders by the banking industry, Schechter said that it was really a calculated effort to take advantage of a flawed system. Calling it “the greatest theft in history,” he observed that “you have a situation where a small group of people enriched themselves in ways that were never thought possible.”
[listen to the remaining parts of the interview here]
Schechter explained that the economic crisis is really the result of the financial, insurance, and real estate industries “working in cahoots with each other and becoming kind of a cabal.” This nefarious coalition was made possible, he said, by financial deregulations which were fueled by lobbyists and campaign contributions working at the behest of these industries. To that end, Schechter said, there is misplaced blame in the minds of many Americans, who see the government at fault for the financial crisis. However, he claimed that the power of the government has essentially been usurped by these financial institutions which he dubbed the “debt and finance complex,” akin to the infamous military-industrial complex.
Beyond the financial sector, he noted a number of elements which also contributed to the maelstrom that has unfolded in the last few years. He was particularly critical of the media, which he said were profiting from the housing boom and, as such, weren’t scrutinizing Wall Street practices. Additionally, Schechter pointed out that the FBI warned of mortgage crimes being perpetrated, but that they did not have the manpower to police these infractions, since they were busy fighting terrorism. He also stressed that the sheer complexity of economics allowed for the financiers to take advantage of average citizens. “We have a financially illiterate nation,” Schechter lamented, “you can’t blame the people for that. They’ve been kept deliberately in the dark.”