Woke Goes For Broke

Woke seems to be on the lips of many conservatives of the right wing persuasion these days. It doesn’t take much imagination to hear their sneer and see lips, purple with rage. I have to ask, though… What’s the opposite of “woke?” Broke? Or maybe it’s “asleep.” Is that what people want? A return to eternal somnolence? Too soon, my friends. You will experience eternal somnolence all too soon.

(Courtesy Bahai)

As for the term’s originators, their meaning has been lost to the fox. There’s nothing worse than terms of art being stolen by bogscum. Here’s the memo: “Woke is an adjective derived from African-American Vernacular English meaning ‘alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.'” Which, the foxes will have you believe, doesn’t exist.

Never Waste An Opportunity

“Woke” is so useful that some folks are attempting to attach it to — got this? — bank failures. Yeah, the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is all over the news. And now we learn they failed not because they were broke but because they were woke. The broke part we can prove. So broke they sold their own stock at a loss, just to pretend they were solvent. It also had diversity policies, derisively classed by some as “woke.” So, given the choice between bad bets and wokeness… What’s a wingnut in good standing to do?

Of course, the SVB failure has nothing to do with woke. In fact, if you’re invoking woke, you’re scraping the bottom of your rhetorical barrel. This has everything to do with the deregulation of greed.

Let’s start with the basics. Conservatives of every stripe follow an abiding trope: Regulation is bad. Regulation, especially when it applies to business, must be extinguished. [Regulation of bodies and relationships, of course, is another matter entirely. But I digress.]

I saw it first hand in the late 70s, when I worked for a conservative, pro-business Trade Association. My boss had a regulation chart that looked like the cryptographic key to an Egyptian tomb. As a concept, deregulation may wane, but it never disappears.

Rainy Days in Silicon Valley (courtesy Sky News)

Go Full Tilt Boogie

In fact, the deregulation bug hit again under TFG. The Former Guy has no abiding principles, so he is very persuadable. Hence, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, passed in 2018 during his administration. It “revised” key requirements designed to minimize bank failures. The target was Dodd-Frank, which was itself a response to the 2007-08 Financial Crisis.

Under Dodd-Frank, a wide swath of banks were subject to a host of regulations, including “stress tests,” designed to assure they had sufficient assets to withstand broad economic disasters. Specifically, banks were to maintain certain levels of capital (to absorb losses) and liquidity (to meet cash obligations), and to file a “living will” plan for their quick and orderly dissolution were they to fail.

The 2018 bill rolled that back, excluding all but the largest dozen or so banks from the stress test requirements. That wasn’t the only weakening in play. Executive orders and agency appointments also took their toll. So when interest rates started rising, and SVB holdings went sideways, oops… At least SVB had a living will before they went broke.

It’s worse than that. SVB CEO Greg Becker lobbied for relaxation of the Dodd-Frank provisions. The very changes that weakened oversight of his bank. And, in the process, discarded the very guardrails that might — might — have prevented the SVB collapse.

“When you’re not working, what do you do to de-stress?” Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, was asked at a [recent] investor conference. 

“Cycling is my advice,” he replied. Three days later, Becker’s bank was in receivership.

Marc Rubinstein, The Demise of Silicon Valley Bank, March 10, 2023

And of course this is nothing new. Remember the Savings & Loan debacle (under Pres. Reagan)? Or the subprime mortgage crisis that raged under Pres. George W. Bush? Is there a pattern here?

There’s More

Speaking of woke… Don’t sleep on the Crocodile from the Organ Shaped State. The knee benders in his legislature have introduced legislation to go after the parents of children who provide gender-affirming medical care to their offspring. Note here that some members representing the misshapen organ are proposing that its tentacles reach beyond their flaccid borders. What that means is that they think they can “rescue” a child residing in another State. Snatch and grab? Nah, Fifth Circuit and then the Supreme Court.

Book Burning, Berlin 1933

And don’t even get me started on book bans. Oh, wait, sorry. “Book certifications.” In the Organ, 1.6 million titles need review by a Certified Media Specialist. Only then can they can return to the shelves. Fahrenheit 451, anyone?

I’ll give the last word to someone else.

“Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”

Hannah Arendt

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2023). All rights reserved.

Leland E. Hale

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