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Eating crow

(Originally appeared at www.bostonbastard.com)
I can remember watching Steve Murphy speaking over a year ago to the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). Murphy was still in the midst of his failed run at the State Treasurer’s office, and was asked to speak along with fellow candidate Steve Grossman and then-Treasurer Tim Cahill.

The GBIO had been campaigning against banks that are not headquartered in Massachusetts, and thus have no legal obligation to loan money at less than 18 percent interest – the state mandated usury limit.

The GBIO asked the candidates about their willingness to move state funds out of any banks that do not recognize that 18 percent interest usury limit.

While Grossman came off as a polished politician giving lip service, and Cahill was just full of shit in general, Murphy easily stole the show, speaking about growing up around churches that are now a part of the GBIO and the importance of social justice that was instilled in him as a youth.

Just weeks after looking like a buffoon for believing and spreading the rumor that protestors were going to cost the city $2 million a month in police overtime costs, flashes of that previous Murphy came out again last week when the Council President and incumbent At-large candidate did some grand standing on the floor of the City Council, while discussing fellow at-large Councilor Felix Arroyo’s Reinvest in Boston initiative.

Arroyo’s legislation would create a new set of guidelines when the city determines which banks it will use for its $1 Billion in assets. Arroyo would have the city determine which banks invest the most in local small businesses and local homeowners – basically which ones support the community the most. That information will be used to determine which banks get the city’s money.

The timing of the ordinance was convenient in that any weekly neighborhood paper would likely have coverage of it right before next Tuesday’s election. This fact likely did not escape Murphy

“We all know what's happened with the economy, with all that domination of big oil, Wall Street chicanery and big banks have contributed to this morass that we all find ourselves in now,” he said. “Who got bailed out? all the big guys.”

It would have been easy enough for Murphy to go with that broad statement and call it a day, but he wanted to prove that he’s been paying attention to what’s being talked about at Dewey Square.

“Goldman Sachs and AIG and other companies were giving out loans and mortgages to people they knew could not fulfill those loans, and then they took out insurance policies in case those loans did fail,” said Murphy, after explaining that the oil industry had brought the automotive industry to its knees by artificially inflating the price of gas.

He also decried usurious credit card rates and the fact that many of the bailed out banks didn’t use that federal money to invest in businesses or communities.

“When they got bailed out, what the government asked of them was to pump that money back into the economy and they didn't,” said Murphy. “They sat on that money.”

He wrapped up his speech by lifting straight from the Occupy movement’s lexicon, defending the “99 percent” as the folks upset with their treatment at the hands of those who are the richest.

So when Murphy could have just as easily stuck with the same half-hearted show of support for Occupy Boston that Michael Flaherty has have dribbled out in recent weeks, he has decided to actually take the time to listen and learn that the 2008 financial collapse had a lot more going on than just a collection of poor people getting home loans they couldn’t possibly ever repay.

The collapse was what happens when regulation of the financial industry allows almost every bank under the sun to gamble with other people’s money in a variety of Ponzi Schemes sucking off each other, just waiting for one break in the daisy chain to cause the whole damn thing to collapse.

Around City Hall, Murphy has several reputations. He’s known for gossip, he’s known for sucking at pursuing higher office, but mostly, he’s known for his keen sense of money matters. So it was good to hear that we was finally using those smarts instead of believing rumors from the police department.

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