The One Question We Must All Ask Ourselves

Rampant profiteering by Congress and greedy bankers is forcing us to weigh the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune against honesty and transparency - both of which are being trampled by crony capitalists in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

What's at stake is whether gross criminal activity and reckless disregard for the public will continue to be whitewashed by regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Federal Reserve, courts, and Congress, which encourage half-baked civil fraud charges followed by non-prosecution agreements and nickel-and-dime fines.

And even more galling, guilty parties end up neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing.

Let's face it, we have allowed the SEC, the Fed, and Congress to be corralled as a matter of regulatory and legislative capture by the very crooks they are responsible for policing and protecting us from.

We are lying to ourselves if we do not believe that we are all part of this problem. It's not that most of us aren't honest. It's that we venerate money and wealth too much.

Rather than being disgusted by dishonest manipulators, liars and cheats, we excuse the less-than-obvious perpetrators as if their example of cutting corners to get ahead, as far ahead as possible, might clear a path for some of our own pursuits.

What have we become? Are we a nation of people with liberty and justice for all, or just a bunch of money grabbers stepping on each other's liberties to pursue self-centered happiness by becoming filthy rich?

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with the profit motive driving business. And there's nothing wrong with working hard and trying to make a lot of money. Those are honorable pursuits.

President Calvin Coolidge said: "The chief business of the American people is business."

But in the same speech made on January 17, 1925 our 30th president went on to say: "Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence."

Tragically, the fountainhead of greed in America emanates from our own Congress. It has become obvious that the accumulation of personal wealth is their primary civic duty.

Nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires. Most of them have gotten much richer in office over the past six years while the country has become much poorer.

Whether it's perks like generous medical and extraordinary pension (full salary) benefits, or taxpayer and constituent financed "fact-finding" trips to places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe, or other luxurious destinations, they enjoy financial rewards that are unavailable to ordinary Americans.

[Note: You can help eliminate Congressional perks like these by clicking here.]

And, as if that's not enough, we now know that they trade stocks on inside information and sell our trust in them along with the privileges of their offices to hedge funds for cash.

Politicians are addicted to money and power. And it's at that busy intersection that they collide with bankers and hedge fund billionaires all too eager to pave a superhighway upon which they all race ahead of all other honest, hard-working Americans.

It makes sense for bankers and financial flyboys to grease the wheels of power. After all, they make incomprehensible amounts of money with the help of politicians who make laws and break laws and insert thousands of loopholes into whatever seemingly sensible laws exist, mostly for the benefit of their paymasters.

To be or not to be honest about business-as-usual in America, that is the question we must ask ourselves.

Whether it is noble to pretend that we are an honest country or to put our arms around the nexus of money and power that has corrupted our integrity, our morals, and our future, and by opposing them, crush them, is what all Americans should be actively debating.

The New Year is the perfect time to make resolutions. And since everyone who has ever tried to stick to a New Year's resolution knows, it's almost impossible unless you declare to the world your goals and are supported by everyone around you.

So, how about we all make a resolution, the same resolution, and all support each other?

How about we resolve to dissolve Congress by voting all of them out over the next two election cycles?

How about we resolve to elect honest people whose first mandate is to revolutionize Congress by enacting laws that strip them of their un-American privileges, inordinate power to pander to bankers and their ability to hide behind their offices as if they are above every other American?

How about we hold them accountable for all their actions and make everything they do transparent?

How about we the people get to vote on whether they have engaged in criminal behavior while in our employ? And, we the people get to determine their punishment by voting on the outcome of public trials of public officials!

And, while we're at it, how about we break up all the big banks once and for all so they don't control Congress, the President, and the regulators who are supposed to be minding the public's interest but are stuffing bankers' back pockets?

America is in desperate need of a revolution.

It's our God-given right, and we better exercise it before our ability to save ourselves from what we have become destroys the magnificent experiment our Founding Fathers and our heroic soldiers have fought for.

[Editor's Note: If you're fed up with the rampant corruption, double-dealing, and protection of Wall Street by Washington (at the expense of the taxpayers on America's Main Street), then you need to read Shah Gilani's Wall Street Insights & Indictments newsletter. As a retired hedge-fund manager, Gilani is a former Wall Street insider who knows where all the bodies are buried. But unlike most insiders, he's not afraid to tell you where they are. He's also got some pretty good ideas how to fix this mess - and how to protect yourself until the cleanup takes place. Please click here to find out more. The newsletter is free.]

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About the Author

Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.

The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.

Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.

Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.

Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.

Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.

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