Dylan Ratigan: in the Tank for Frank

Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Meeting,” might be worried about keeping that gig. Why else would he act like he’s trying out for the job of Barney Frank’s press secretary?


The Massachusetts Representative appeared on July 28 to push for legislation that MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer described as a way “to ban compensation that encourages inappropriate risk that could threaten the economy.” The proposed legislation would allow shareholders to vote on compensation.


Ratigan, not even bothering to hide his approval, asked, “Where do you find the most resistance to that obviously intelligent idea?”


 “From some of the people in the corporations and it’s really extraordinary,” Frank said. “What you get are people who always extolled in my experience shareholders, democracy in America, they’ve hailed the fact that somebody in the corporation are owned, in effect, by people all over the country. But somehow when it comes to simply voting yes or no on the pay package, in a regular proxy by the way, it wouldn’t cost them a penny, because they’re just adding this to a vote that goes out anyway.  Suddenly, shareholders are incompetent. We have people who run the companies denigrating the shareholders and they use bogus arguments. I heard correctly, your anchor quoted, well, they’re afraid of a competitive disadvantage. But that's precisely why we wanna have these rules. If they do it one company at a time, they can say competitive disadvantage. But we have rules, and by the way, these are not just American rules. If you look at England, our major competitor in the financial area, they are doing exactly the same thing. In fact, say on pay, where the shareholders get to vote once a year on what they think the pay, whether it’s right or not, we’re borrowing that from England. England’s had that for several years.”


Enraptured by Frank’s commentary, Ratigan started talking big-picture himself. “Yeah, you know, all of the past year, has made us all ask a lot of questions I think about what capitalism actually is, and whether what we’re doing is that or not.”


Ratigan continued with, “And we hear a lot of politicians, Congressman, talk about the entrepreneur and the little guy and how innovation is the future of this country and I think we all believe that. But what gets left out is the importance of having rules for capitalism so that those who provide the money, those who are competing to pick ideas to invest, are actually being watched so that they’re not just taking  money out of the system and playing money catch with it at the expense of this country.” And what gets left out of Ratigan’s thinking is any skepticism about having Barney Frank meddling in the private sector.


Frank stated his concern for “investors who are afraid to get into the market.” Those investors need not worry because Frank said that “we’re going to give them some protection.” Ratigan might have mentioned that many investors are shunning the markets because of uncertainty about the arbitrary meddling of Frank, the Obama administration and other anti-free market liberals.


Frank described his view of the financial system: “Their job is to gather up money from a lot of people in fairly small amounts, bundle it and make it available to people who will use it in a very productive way. Now they have to be compensated for that. They shouldn’t do it for nothing. But to a certain extent, in some cases, with the exotic derivatives and elsewhere, the means became the end. The justification for doing this was simply that some people could make money by manipulation, not accumulate money that could be put to productive use.”


Ratigan, of course, didn’t question whether Frank has the right to determine what is or isn’t productive use, or what is fair compensation.


But he did ask Frank about why he wanted to regulate all institutions, instead of just the large ones. Frank replied, “The problem is you don’t know in advance who’s going to be too big to fail.” He then stated, “As you engage in more activity, you’re gonna have to have more capital and it’s not going to be proportional.”