The chief villain in this story is Fannie Mae, which capitalized on the political cover provided by affordable housing goals (as well as government ties and generous political donations) to “build itself into the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.” Essentially, taxpayers unwittingly channeled the agency billions of dollars a year to finance a campaign of self-promotion and self-protection, enriching Fannie Mae's executives as well as its political patrons.
Meanwhile, Wall Street banks were drawn to the mortgage market like a bear to trash, seeing Fannie Mae's soaring profits, stock price and executive compensation. Aided by credit agencies' erroneous assumptions that housing values wouldn't decline, the housing bubble continued to inflate. The few brave enough to criticize these government policies were effectively silenced by well-funded, self-interested and sometimes vicious opposition from the “public-private housing machine.”
The income inequality the Occupy Wall Street protesters decry results from this crony capitalist system that allows policymakers to distribute economic favors to special interests in the form of bailouts, preferable tax treatment and favorable regulations. Conversely, capitalists like Steve Jobs who rely on free markets, private financing, American ingenuity and hard work, create more prosperity for more people.
Most Americans don't need to Think Again. We prefer capitalists like Steve Jobs to “crony capitalists” like Fannie Mae, whose government-abetted ransacking of the economy is the root cause of Americans' despair.