Who's to blame for this mess? That's what the American people want to know, right? Nobody wants to hear about intricate economic factors that combined in unforeseen ways to predicate an economic collapse. We want scapegoats! The media, politicians, and plain old dumb people on the street who don't know what the hell they're talking about have all picked out their favorite villains in this national crisis. We take a look at the top ten, after the jump: Dick Fuld: The CEO who destroyed Lehman Bros. What a dick, ha. He was a famously Type-A personality and hard charger till his firm crumbled to dust, thanks largely to his leadership. Then some angry employee knocked Fuld out at the company gym. Even mild-mannered Anderson Cooper blames Fuld in this video clip. You gotta admit, he looks worse than almost anyone right now.
Henry Paulson: Oh, Treasury Secretary Paulson. You picked a time to take your job. Every bad think in America is your fault! Your habit of walking around and looking grave failed to save the US economy. If Paulson could turn this whole thing around before he leaves office, he'd be a hero. But he can't, so he'll be a goat of historic proportions.
Alan Greenspan: Just this week the Times ran a devastating takedown of Greenspan's legacy. He was the Fed chairman for more than a decade, but got out just in time to miss this whole crisis. But in retrospect, Greenspan was obviously not the genius everyone thought. "The financial system as a whole has become more resilient," he remarked in 2004. Dude that was so wrong.
Christopher Cox: American hero John McCain thinks that SEC chairman Cox let the ship sink on his watch! According to McCain (watch the clip for a taste), Cox "betrayed the public" trust by doing nothing while short sellers and their devious brethren undermined the US economy.
Neel Kashkari: The 35-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker hasn't even started leading the government bailout plan, and already everyone is convinced he'll fail! They say he's too young, too inexperienced, too conflicted, and too bald. We'll overlook all that (at least until he has a couple weeks on the job), but the fact that he proudly declared himself "a free market Republican" is a wee bit scary.
George W. Bush: Sure, Bush is the natural guy to blame for all this. Why didn't he read the lessons of history from 1992, or 1976, or 1932, or one of many other years? But then you remember: he can't read. As much as we would all like to blame him, Bush is far too stupid to be responsible for something as complicated as this. Sigh.
Herbert and Marion Sandler: These two billionaires ran Golden West Financial, which did fabulously well in the mortgage business until, you know, all its mortgages blew up. By that time the company had been bought by Wachovia, which had to eat some major losses. Bill O'Reilly thinks they may be economic villains! Saturday Night Live made fun of them! They're pretty good stand-ins for all greedy mortgage lenders.
Alan Schwartz: He was the CEO who oversaw the collapse of Bear Stearns, the first big Wall Street firm to go down. He set this whole thing off! Here's a video of him on CNBC just days before BS failed, talking about how everything was okay. Some people think he lied about his firm's health.
Jim Cramer: The shouty CNBC financial "expert" used to be a big bull on the market. Buy stocks all the time, people! Then the market collapsed. Then he had to apologize and go on TV to tell everybody to pull their cash out of the market. Forget the losses! Abandon ship! He's pretty bad at money advice, ironically.
The Financial Media: Who allowed Cramer to stand up and give all his ruinous advice? Why didn't CNBC tell us this shit was coming? Why didn't the most prestigious financial papers in the country do some digging and tell us that all the people mentioned above were crooks who would eventually drain trillions from our coffers through incompetence or corruption? The answer, of course, is that the financial media gets caught up in the madness just like everyone else, and ends up telling us whatever we want to hear. Which is why you can't forget the final scapegoat in all this, who tends to go unnamed: