Wall St. and the 'Triple-Fucking' of US Workers, Taxpayers

In his latest feature-length piece for Rolling Stone magazine, the eloquently foul-mouthed financial reporter Matt Taibbi takes a close look at what he terms the “improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people” by exploring how Wall Street financiers and hedge fund barons have managed to convince those who control state workers’ pensions to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to hedge fund billionaires while simultaneously demanding huge cuts to the earned benefits of current and retired public employees.

Published online Thursday, read the whole piece here.

Using the story of Rhode Island state treasurer Gina Raimondo as a jumping-off point, Taibbi tells the tale of the “ostentatiously ambitious 42-year-old Rhodes scholar and former venture capitalist” who in 2011 became the darling of right-wing ideologues and Wall Street vultures by “allowing her state to be used as a test case for the rest of the country, at the behest of powerful out-of-state financiers with dreams of pushing pension reform down the throats of taxpayers and public workers from coast to coast.”

Why a “triple-fucker“? Taibbi explains:

He goes on to explain that officials in Rhode Island, impressed by Raimondo’s Yale and Harvard resumé and wooed by her promises of large returns, were unaware of the massive financial cost of doing business with the largely unregulated hedge funds.

“One of [Raimondo’s] key supporters was billionaire former Enron executive John Arnold,” writes Taibbi, describing him as “a dickishly ubiquitous young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation’s Koch brothers, and who for years had been funding a nationwide campaign to slash benefits for public workers.”

And the beneficiaries? Some of New York’s top hedge funds, including, Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital, which received $66 million; Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital which got $64 million; and Paul Singer’s Elliott Management that nabbed $70 million in fees. Collectively, reports Taibbi, those financial firms will be paid “tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers” of a “flat-broke” Rhode Island.

According to Taibbi’s reporting, what was not mentioned during the sales pitch to take public pension fund dollars and hand them over to Wall Street were nearly $1 billion in associated fees—”14 percent of the state fund”—and returns that ultimately equaled nearly the same amount of money that pensioners would be asked to give up when their benefits were put up on the chopping block. The report continues:

What’s striking and maddening, according to Taibbi, is that:

In the end—after a deeply and well-reported look at the complex issues surrounding public pensions, state budgets, and Wall Street malfeasance—the conclusion that Taibbi arrives at is a simple one. “It just ain’t right,” he writes.

“Asking cops, firefighters and teachers to take the first hit for a crisis caused by reckless pols and thieves on Wall Street is low, even by American standards.”

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Additionally, Taibbi appeared on Thursday’s Democracy Now! to discuss his new piece:

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