As politicians and pundits line up to tell us what they think will get us out of this economic situation, we are seeing old ideas reheated. What will get us out of this mess cannot be built with things that got us into this mess.
We seem to have a political system fascinated with regurgitating ideas from four, eight or 12 years ago, affixing them to a new fresh face and running them back up the flag pole. We must move past that. Since we have a Democrat in the White House, the ideas of Republicans are the ones now being seen as “change” when they are basically right-wing ideals that have been in place for the past 30-plus years.
I listen to Republican leaders both locally and nationally, and I’m dumfounded by their utter lack of reality and complexity. The theory that you just let the free market settle itself, deregulate everything, please the masses with low taxes and this thing will fix itself is just absurd.
This isn’t America in the 1800s, and unfortunately for those on the right we have a tax system and we have social programs that were put in place to preserve the quality of life for many Americans. To roll the clock back, get rid of all rules and regulation and let the rich keep more of their money to gamble in the casino-like atmosphere of Wall Street, hoping money will flow down the line is a fundamentally flawed concept.
Let’s take a look at deregulation. It can be said with a great degree of accuracy that the mass deregulation that begun with Ronald Reagan in 1981 might be the single most significantly damaging issue that has put us in our position. When Reagan came to office, the leaders of corporate America finally had their man who would pull the gun on America while they looted it.
One act after another came or went, starting with the McFadden Act (allowing banks and financial institutions to operate in more then one state), then moving on to all the activity that led to the striking down of Glass-Steagal in 1999 (which opened the door for all the exotic trading and investments under the umbrella of legitimate banking). These two changes led to risky investment markets, the downright criminal credit default swap and sub-prime mortgage market, and two major crashes in the stock market (2001 and 2008).
From there, the right-wing assault against OSHA and mining industry regulations made the lives of millions of workers less safe, all in the name of corporate profits.
Deregulation through the arm of Health and Human Services gave the pharmaceuticals industry the right to hold lives at ransom in the name of profitability as well. Many children died due to the Reye’s syndrome outbreak because of lack of labeling on aspirin bottles in the early 1980s, while drug companies swam in profit.
Proving that government also had the ability to destroy virtually any industry, the airlines were deregulated, promising lower fares to consumers. While fares are lower today then 30 years ago, we’ve also seen many airlines go out of business, accidents due to lack of safety and many, many thousands of airline employees lose their jobs and their pensions, and the ones who remain work for pennies on the dollar less then their predecessors.
The real travesty of deregulation is that most of the appointees entrusted to oversee these industry overhauls were handpicked from those same industries. It’s the ultimate case of foxes in the hen house. The Telecommunications Act destroyed competition in media and allowed our newsgathering institutions to be bought and controlled by corporate interests and become mere devices to spread propaganda and conceal truth.
Conservatives have sold us deregulation as a way to eliminate cost and waste and deliver more to consumers without the benevolent “hand of the government” interfering. In most of these cases the lack of regulation only exposed our society to more danger and disasters. Whether it be corporate greed, safety violations, environmental neglect or most of all the fraud and gluttonous thievery that was conducted in our financial markets, all prove we need safeguards. Consumers would rather have safe, reliable and fair options. Id rather pay an extra $25 to take a flight instead of take a cheap flight that isn’t safe that cost the co-pilot and a flight instructor their pensions.
So when I hear Republicans attack regulation and tax policy as the ills to our economy and ignore all the excesses and fraud and fleecing of our country in the name of profits to shareholders, I call foul.
Anyone who goes back and explores the past 30 years, seeing how the financial markets killed the innovation and the job creation of industry in this country would see pure fact.
Anyone who can see how the vast influx of wealth in this country went predominantly to the top 10 percent of Americans will see pure fact.
Anyone who looks at the evening news and sees the slanted and biased news stories that ignore reality would see pure fact.
Our government is taking our country away from us and handing it over to the corporate state in return for money and favor, and it’s happening every single day in America. These same politicians are telling us that the solution to our problems is trusting them to further remove the safeguards and allow corporate America more leeway to do what it pleases in exchange for profit.
This is why we have to know the facts and take on corporate interests that further threaten our democracy. Politicians need new solutions that serve us, the taxpaying citizens, not the corporations.