Erin Burnett is in the first week of her big transition from CNBC to CNN with her new show Erin Burnett Out Front. And what better place for the former Wall Street anchor to start than with the Occupy Wall Street protests? Unfortunately, Burnett used the opportunity to spread more myths in the mainstream media and totally ignore the real point of the protests.
In a segment called “Seriously?!” Burnett goes down to Wall Street and talks to Dan, an “unemployed software designer” about the purpose of the protests. She says:
“So, do you know that taxpayers made money on the Wall Street bailout? They did. They made money on the Wall Street part of the bailout….Does that make you feel any differently?”
Dan kind of (not really) says yes and then they cut back to studio and Burnett says, “Seriously? That’s all it would take to end the unrest?” Then she verifies her claim and tells her unwitting viewers that the bank bailout “made” $10B for taxpayers. She proclaims victory by saying they “solved” it. And that’s it. 2 minutes and 34 seconds and she did it. Case closed, right? Not even close.
So what should Dan the “unemployed software designer” have said to Ms. Burnett? He should have said this:
“Excuse me, but I believe you have a completely insufficient understanding of the way that our fiat monetary system works. When the U.S. Treasury “makes” money it is actually reducing the outstanding net financial assets of the private sector. There is no such thing as “making money on the Wall Street bailouts” because, as the issuer of our currency, the U.S. Federal Government is not a profit making entity and cannot be compared to a household, business or bank. There is simply no such thing as the U.S. government having “more” money when it brings in tax revenues. As the supplier of the U.S. dollar, the Federal Government must issue money before it is available to us. And when they “make” money via increased taxes they are quite literally removing net financial assets from the private sector.
So no, none of us are “making money” on the bailout except for the people who caused their banks to collapse. That is of course, unless the banks or Uncle Sam are paying you some form of special bank bailout dividend? Did that happen? No. So none of us are “richer” directly because of the bank bailout.
More importantly though, what the banks did to us was break the moral code that is always attached to money. Money is always debt and when an institution or individual fails to adhere to the moral code attached to our debts, they are directly infringing on their moral obligations that they are legally bound to. And when a government bails out banks, individuals or businesses, they are saying that this infringement is okay and are in fact encouraging it. This is why we don’t allow counterfeiting, fraud, scams, etc. These are all forms of infringement on the moral code that inextricably links us all together via trade and commerce. Without the soundness and strict adherence to this moral code, there is no such thing as a healthy functioning U.S. economy. And the banks infringed on this moral code to the tune of trillions of dollars. And we let them get away with it. Now you’re justifying it with a false understanding of how a fiat monetary system works. Shame on you.
So, no, there is nothing you can say or do that would make me feel better about the Wall Street bank bailouts. SERIOUSLY!”
It’s that simple. People feel slighted. And rightfully so. Now, in fairness, most people in this country are not aware of the underlying mechanics of our monetary system. And most people have a poor understanding of what money really is. But one thing is very clear from the Wall Street protests. Main Street got the short end of the stick. And we all know it. Whether it’s the fact that none of us are actually “making money” on the bailouts or the idea that we have all been subjected to approval of an egregious violation of the moral code that links us all through our money.
Although it may not be obvious, the anger that resonates from these facts is what is fueling the movement. It is the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Misleading media coverage like Ms. Burnett’s is just another glaring reason why the mainstream media is dying a quick death in this country. They continually fail to represent our reality and connect with the American public.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.