Boo hoo

Matt Taibbi, following up on his story about billionaire hedge funder Dan Loeb — and his work to use the fees he earns by using his clients’ money against them:

In the age of Citizens United, it’s going to become more and more important for ordinary people everywhere to find out if their tax dollars or their retirement money is being used to fund political lobbying against their own interests. There are, after all, lots of people on Wall Street with obnoxious political interests who want to get their hands on your union or state retirement money, your federal social security benefits (just think of how screwed we’d all be now if they’d privatized Social Security before 2008), and, through bailouts, your tax dollars.

And now that some of them, like Loeb, have taken a hit for dabbling in politics while feeding at the retirement trough, Wall Street is panicking and crying foul. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning stooped to accusing the American Federation of Teachers of “bullying hedge funds to cut off funding for kids in Harlem,” as if terminal greed patients like Dan Loeb or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal gave even half a shit about kids in Harlem. They should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking about going there.

This whole thing gets to a bigger issue. The people who run Wall Street have extraordinarily outsized political influence. They decide elections and they dominate the regulatory process. But this influence comes mainly from managing money that belongs to millions of people outside lower Manhattan. What this Loeb episode proves is that with the right kind of organization, these people can be forced to choose between the money and the political influence.

In the end, of course, they’ll all take the money.

Isn’t that great

As the mother of a premature infant, it became quickly apparent to me that they were seen as potential science experiments:

A federal agency has found that a number of prestigious universities failed to tell more than a thousand families in a government-financed study of oxygen levels for extremely premature babies that the risks could include increased chances of blindness or death.

None of the families have yet been notified of the findings from the Office for Human Research Protections, which safeguards people who participate in government-financed research. But the agency’s conclusions were listed in great detail in a letter last month to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the lead site in the study. In all, 23 academic institutions took part, including Stanford, Duke and Yale.

The letter stated that the study did have an effect on which infants died and which developed blindness, and that those risks were not properly communicated to the parents, depriving them of information needed to decide whether to participate.

The 1,300 infants who participated in the study, which took place between 2004 and 2009, and whose results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, were born at just 24 to 27 weeks of gestation, a very high-risk category that is already prone to death and eye disease.

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