A Lannister Always Pays His Debts

A research based look into the concept of loopholes in the American economy. 

If I'm being honest here, 108 pages into Robert Reich's examination of the current state of America's capitalist economy Saving Capitalism, reading this book scares the crap out of me. The money, government, and corporations...it's like a sad, inescapable iron triangle.

Speaking of iron, I've been reminded repeatedly of Games Of Thrones throughout reading. The Lannisters make a point of being both the most powerful AND the wealthiest family in all of Westeros. Even in a fantasy world, it is evident that the two are irrevocably tied together.

Tywin, Joffrey, and Cersei Lannister sit at the small council
of the king. They have each killed, tortured and humiliated many
beloved characters. But they always pay their debts.
Source: HBO, directed by Alex Graves

The Lannisters always seems to find a way out, or find a loophole if you will, similarly to many of the major corporations, banks, and firms in America. However, there is a common phrase: "A Lannister always pays his debts." Our Westerosi-American extended metaphor must now be broken -- these corporations will destroy anyone in their way and pay little to no debt.

The most obvious example here is the Great Recession of 2008. According to Gary Wolfram, professor of economics and public policy at Hillsdale College, the recession was greatly caused by "artificially low interest rates" set by the federal reserve, which lead to more building and buying of houses. Many low income buyers also had greater access to loans that they would not normally qualify for, since banks were being pushed by Congress to give out those loans. Following economic trends forced many into foreclosures and lowering prices of houses even more. These foreclosures effectively ruined the lives of many, but the people who caused them got off scot free.

The major corporations who administered these loans were basically given a free pass out of jail. On the one hand, I can see the justification that if Wall Street fell to pieces that our country would no longer being in  a recession but in The Great Depression Part II (coming soon to a theatre near you). But then I remember that I am a human being with empathy and emotions! And that it is simply not fair to all of the people who lost their jobs, homes, and livelihoods due to the mistakes of those in the government and at the top of the economic food chain.

Here's the worst part: The banks got to file for bankruptcy, but not the people who the banks had screwed over. "Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code (whose drafting was largely the work of the financial industry) prevents homeowners from declaring bankruptcy on mortgage loans for their primary residence" (Reich 63). But for the banks, several hundred BILLION dollars were allocated to save the big banks. If you don't feel a little sick right now, you need to read this paragraph again. Sorry not sorry.

Loopholes and easy ways out are rooted in the American economic system for those who have the powealth (that's a hybrid word I created of power and wealth, because I'm convinced at this point that they are the same thing) to a point where they're expected. How many times have you watched a movie involving a lawsuit of sorts and heard the question, "Isn't there a loophole?" or something of the like? According to Reich, many rich Americans avoided paying taxes in 2014 with the help of bank Credit Suisse. The $2.8 billion was not much of an issue to the bank, and even worse, the Justice Department didn't even care to find out who was avoiding taxes. Once again, money flies higher than justice, ethics, or morals of any kind.

To close out this blog, I want to mention how I was reminded of 13th while reading. The same way that the banks found a way out of compensating all of those who lost their homes, the American de jure racism found ways to keep black people from having all of their rights from the very passage of the 13th amendment: grandfather clauses, literacy tests, Jim Crow, all the way up to the present day prison industrial complex. I just find it interesting that there are loopholes in everything, and the agent groups always seem to be the only ones able to slip through them.

I honestly do not think I could have found a more fitting meme.
Source: Quickmeme.com (lol)

I never thought I'd say this, but maybe we all need to start acting a little more like the Lannisters. Debts must be paid.

The Great Recession Explained in 3 Minutes | Hillsdale College Econ 101. Dir. William E. Simon. Perf. Gary Wolfram. Youtube. Hillsdale College Online Courses, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.


  1. Combo of words = portmanteau (fyi). Maybe next up you can look a little bit at the current administration's perspective of capitalism and Wall Street?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

I Want To Love You, Harvard, Yale, Princeton (HYP!)

SAMO: 'Wrecked' Identities