Yet the heirs to Phil Gramm have done their best to protect speculators, hosing the nation in the process. "Every time the economy starts to show signs of rising, the oil speculators jump in," says Joseph Kennedy II, a former congressman from Massachusetts. "They suck the life out of the economy."

As analysts spoke of recovery in April 2011, the price of gasoline approached the $4 mark. The wicked swings had resumed. Last spring it topped out once more at $3.96 a gallon.

But this time it had become difficult to screech about environmentalists or supply and demand with a straight face. Even the banks were confessing their sins. An analyst for Goldman Sachs admitted that banks such as his had added an artificial 40 percent to the price of a barrel. Everyone from the Federal Reserve to the CEO of ExxonMobil has conceded much the same.

Former international securities lawyer Dennis Kelleher: “I asked the senior official at Goldman [Sachs] at the time. There were no supply and demand issues that could remotely explain the doubling and doubling again of oil prices.”
Charles Steck
Former international securities lawyer Dennis Kelleher: “I asked the senior official at Goldman [Sachs] at the time. There were no supply and demand issues that could remotely explain the doubling and doubling again of oil prices.”
William Black, former bank regulator turned economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City: “People can’t conceive of a world without these massive institutions, and can’t believe they’re a negative influence.”
Forester Michael
William Black, former bank regulator turned economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City: “People can’t conceive of a world without these massive institutions, and can’t believe they’re a negative influence.”

That led Bart Chilton to do a little math. He's a commissioner with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is supposed to oversee oil trading. By his calculations, the owner of a Honda Civic is sending $7.30 to J.P. Morgan and men such as the Kochs every time she fills up her tank. For an F-150 pickup owner, the banker fee is $14.56 a tank.

Chilton believes the annual cost to the trucking industry is a whopping $29.1 billion. For airlines: $9.8 billion. That means every time you fly, every time you buy an apple or a beer, the nation's thirstiest welfare queens take a cut.

Your neighborhood gas station doesn't get a piece of anything, says Sherri Stone of the Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents 8,000 convenience stores and oil wholesalers. Typically, a gas station makes just 7 cents a gallon, all of which is eaten up by credit-card fees.

Yet it's the elderly who take the greatest beating. In 1979, Joe Kennedy founded Citizens Energy, a nonprofit that provides heating oil to the poor and aged in 22 states. Three years ago, it cost $1,200 per winter to heat a normal house. Today, it's $4,000, he says. To hear Kennedy tell it, Gramm's amendment shouldn't be called the "Enron Loophole." It should be known as the "Let's Try to Starve Grandma Act."

Osama bin Laden could only have dreamed of causing such widespread damage to the U.S. economy. But both parties in Congress remain willing to protect Wall Street at all costs — even if it means terrorizing the country.

"We're going right back to the robber-baron days," says Kennedy. "And it's eating away at our heart and soul."


Wall Street: A high-crime area

The late 1980s were a quaint period, when the admirals of finance were still eligible for punishment under criminal law. Savings and loans were collapsing, just as their larger counterparts would twenty years later, pillaged by executive incompetence and fraud.

So federal prosecutors did something that would never happen today: They convicted 1,000 of the biggest and worst offenders. They also filed some 800,000 civil suits and banned sleazebags from ever working in banking again.

But Washington didn't grasp the bloodbath's obvious lesson: Bankers still couldn't be trusted. Reagan's "Government Bad, Private Sector Good" mantra had become the nation's official business plan. Instead of watching the wicked more closely, deregulation allowed Big Finance to rampage untethered.

By the time George W. Bush reached office, the philosophy was so entrenched that, without fanfare or any official change in law, the feds decided that Wall Street basically had immunity under fraud statutes.

That was clear by the early 2000s, when accounting fraud became the height of fashion in executive suites across the land. The feds would prosecute the most egregious chieftains at WorldCom, Tyco and Adelphia. But some of the country's biggest names were caught rigging their books as well, firms such as Merck, Halliburton and AOL. All were allowed to walk. The game had become fully rigged.

Economist William Black, a former bank regulator and author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, says there are one million law-enforcement officers in America today. Only 1,300 are devoted to white-collar crime. Most police departments don't have a single detective working the country-club set. When Enron imploded under the largest fraud in Texas history, the Houston PD was busy rousting check bouncers.

With local investigations rare and the feds purposefully averting their gaze, bankers were allowed to take down the housing market in a scheme 70 times the magnitude of the savings-and-loan collapse.

"Wall Street is a high-crime area in which we basically have no cops on the beat," says former securities lawyer Dennis Kelleher, head of Better Markets, a nonprofit devoted to protecting taxpayers from the "Too Big to Fail" crowd.

One might expect this to occur under George W., who made no bones that his presidency was all about aiding his fellow trust-fund swells. But it would only get worse under the self-styled change agent, Barack Obama.

The appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder said it all. He'd been a partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling, whose clients included Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America. The year before he joined the Obama administration, he made $2.5 million through fees from the very people he was supposed to prosecute.

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16 comments
northsiderasta
northsiderasta

Remember when gop lackeys & hacks worried that BP would not have enough money to drill for more oil?

Richard1980
Richard1980

Goldman Sachs, and others, have done the same thing to metals. They've bought warehouses and are "hoarding" steel and aluminum supplies, manipulating the market and pushing prices higher. Wall St. and the banks need to be kicked out of the commodities markets. They've turned our "free markets" into "manipulated markets," their own Las Vegas, and they are putting our economy on the gaming table, as long as they win, our economy, and citizenry, be damned. http://www.protopage.com/buy-keflex-online http://www.protopage.com/buy-clomid-online http://www.protopage.com/order-amoxil-online http://www.protopage.com/bigger-breasts

Daniel Mays
Daniel Mays

just more republican lies when will u people see whats going on and vote democratic for the people not corporations get rid of citizens united reinstate glass- steagall reelect obama

Don G
Don G

Finally! Someone else with the same conclusions I have had from the get go. Nothing more than big business in politicians pockets. What a bunch of A$$ holes!

Imapayne_57
Imapayne_57

And their blaming Obama for this. This was spear headed by George W.

Snazd
Snazd

Maybe we could put a few of our jobless Americans to work - building guillotines to set up on Wall Street and in front of the Capitol building.

Jacquebquique
Jacquebquique

Timothy Geitner was the "fair haired boy" of Goldman-Sachs. I wonder where he ended up?

Mzonker1
Mzonker1

RE Petro terrorists You are beyond "full of crap". Follow the $ to see who profits from increased gas prices. How long will u remain a sophomore in Jr College?

Not Applicable
Not Applicable

I agree with the major tenets of the piece - politicos are soft on regulation and my calculations show gas today would be $2.40 to $2.70 a gallon in STL without speculators (but not 40% less). There are ways to deal with this, but there isn't the political willpower to do so (combined with the reality that too many voters are economics/math challenged and can't understand the true factors involved).

Trista DiGiuseppi
Trista DiGiuseppi

I'm pretty liberal, but this article is ridiculously subjective. Sorry, I believe there is some truth to this piece of work, but I also smell a lot of sour grapes and bullshit.

Rikarius
Rikarius

And that my dear is how they get away with it. Total denial by citizens as to the depth of corruption in todays political and judicial arena. If one questions the integrity of our leaders we are considered unpatriotic, in reality the opposite is true. It is our duty as citizens to be diligent in the safeguarding of our rights. Politicians only have the power which we give them. To blindly follow any parties or pollitical agenda is ignorance of the highest degree. Businesses only purpose is to make money. The human, environmental or any other factor is contrary to their purpose. If a loophole exist is it there duty to exploit it. It is our duty to amke sure to close it. To allow this type of corruption to exist for so long says a lot about the intelligence and gullibility of our nation as a whole.

Droptheduck7
Droptheduck7

How is the WAR on DRUGS going??? Makes one beleive that Congress and Wall Street are making very nice Profits on BOTH!!! - and NO NEWS NETWORK addresses either!!! After reading this article, it is evident to me that BOTH PARTIES MIGHT ON THE TAKE!!! - However, I have no concrete proof of either - except results, or lack there of !!!

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

thankyou for this article. i hope your house doesn't get hit by a drone attack. the fact that this insanity continues unabated despite all common simple logic is evidence of an ulterior motive being perpetrated by evil men in league with senator phil ghram. and that is the imploding of our economy along with other sovereign nations economies to create a problem in need of a solution: the new world order global government. it all ties in with the inside 911 job, all the fema camps across the nation, to the rehearsing of martial law complete with tanks in the streets of st. louis. our government has obviously been hi jacked by the satanic devils that eisonhower and john f kennedy warned us about a week before they blew his brains out.

Robert
Robert

The only way America is going to show congress and these corporate fat cats we are tire of their s#*t is to do what they think we wont do. We have to literally storm congress and wallstreet and throw these people out into the streets right and their faces. We would have to start with congress first, the very place these crooks are hiding at. The sad part is America seems to not be ready to stand up so we continue to get raped without the use of any lube. All I see and hear is people talking about doing something and yet nothing happens and the false promises from campaigners telling us what we want to hear for an election. The great John Adams stated that American democracy would destroy itself from within and that is exactly what is happening. So if congress and big bussiness think they don't have to follw the rules, THEN WHY SHOULD THE REST OF AMERICA HAVE TO FOLLOW ANY RULES.

Lennonsmum
Lennonsmum

Most of the country's working people, or should I say unemployed and underemployed, are hiding their heads in the sand. When there is no more money anywhere but in the hands of the ultra-wealthy, there is no one to blame but ourselves for not throwing the thieves in prison. I am very disappointed with how little the average person reads about what is going on. The sound-bites on TV is all they hear and then think they are so well-informed...What's worse is that most people have given up and don't listen or read much of anything; they have given away their power...

 
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