Bailout Indignation: How About a Test of Your Injustice Barometer?

You might think that the reckless, avaricious, giant corporations, having shrunk the economy, cost millions of jobs and then demanded that taxpayers be dunned for years into the future for multi-trillion dollar bailouts, would show contrition, regret, or self-restraint of their power over Washington.

Forget it. They’re baaack! Their greed and power are revving up big time to bring Washington and you the taxpayer, you the parent, you the consumer, you the worker, to your knees. Here is a sample of the appalling dynamics of corporate greed and continuing over-reach each day in your nation’s capital.

1. Just when people thought the taxpayer-subsidized corporate student loan racket was ended by the Democrats, Sallie Mae, its cohorts and lobbyists, like Jamie S. Gorelick of FannieMae notoriety, are descending on Congress. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that replacing these subsidized loans with direct Department of Education lending will save $94 billion over the next ten years.

It is long overdue to end this gouging, college payola giving, obscenely overcompensated industry, and give students an efficient and reasonable lending system. Still, Sallie Mae, Citigroup, Bank of America and others are swarming over Congress to retain a big piece of the action. “Why do we even need private lenders?” correctly asks Congressman Timothy H. Bishop, a former provost of Southampton College.

2. ABC News reports that banks are hiking already high credit card rates and other bank-related fees: “The Banks have been given billions of dollars of tax money and only lend it out if customers are willing to pay extortion rights,” said Tony Cesnik, a Concord, California, resident. Cesnik adds: “The banks need a legal spanking. They are acting like spoiled brats!” Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel agrees: “We’re asking taxpayers to pay twice.”

3. The big oil and gas companies are saturating the airwaves with ads warning about the Obama Administration’s alleged desire to tax them $400 billion. This will cost jobs and reduce the discovery of more oil and gas, they say. Where is this $400 billion figure from? Obama’s ambition is not much beyond repealing the tax breaks George W. Bush gave his oily friends for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico when oil was selling at less than $40 per barrel. Some of the oil industry’s own spokespersons admitted last year that their argument doesn’t hold water any more with such high oil prices and profits since then.

So what are the big oil corporations like Exxon doing with their excess profits that totaled a record $45 billion just for Exxon last year? They’re not even drilling on two-thirds of the acreage they have rights to explore. Instead Exxon is spending $35 billion to buy back its stock and hold in cash. When the next oil shock comes, Exxon will demand more tax breaks and other dispensations to fund its drilling. We’ve seen that game played out before at the gas pump.

4. Now comes Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh to report a private meeting recently between six senators and Obama in the White House where the president heard complaints that his proposed regulatory reforms were too weak and were being devised by his appointed officials who were part of the problem in Wall Street. Well, are you surprised that a new powerful lobby created by the likes of Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs is gearing up to stop adequate regulation of “over the counter” derivatives, to keep these transactions secret, and to continue to permit what Hirsh called the “systemic risk that led to the crash.” This brazen move by the incorrigible banks is underway after they received huge bailout money from Washington. Beware they may yet demand and receive another big bundle.

5. With workers losing millions of jobs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and virtually the entire business juggernaut are amassing tens of millions of dollars to stop the union-facilitating “card-check” legislation and any effort to bring the federal minimum wage up to what is was back in 1968, no less, adjusted for inflation. It is now about three dollars short of that modest goal for hard-pressed laborers, many without health insurance.

6. And oh, how these company bosses are fighting to keep their big bonuses going as a reward for tanking many of their own companies. Call it hubris, arrogance, disdain for common decencies of the American people, it all reflects too much corporate power over our lives-a judgment over 75 percent of Americans share.

All this lobbying of Congress and the White House year after year pays off. A study by three Kansas University professors found that a single tax break in 2004 earned drug, manufacturing, and other companies $220 for every dollar they spent in their cash register politicking. Presently, Lockheed Martin is spending millions of our taxpayer dollars to oppose Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and many other defense experts who want to finally shut down the price-skyrocketing F-22 fighter extravaganza designed for combat in the Soviet Union-era.

So, are you more upset than when you started reading this column? Feel frustrated and powerless? With your friends, ask your Senators and Congressperson during their frequent recesses for a three-hour public accountability session. If you can assemble 300 or more residents, after you rev up your community, you’re likely to have your elected representatives come to an auditorium where you live and work. If they think 500 people will show up, it is even more likely. Especially if you are organized and tell them this is just the beginning. Just the beginning!

Without the rumble from the people back home, a majority of the 535 members of Congress will continue to kowtow to about 1500 corporations and you’ll pay the price again and again. So, rumble, rumble, rumble!

Ralph Nader is a leading consumer advocate, the author of The Seventeen Traditions, among many other books, and a four-time candidate for US President. Read other articles by Ralph, or visit Ralph's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on April 21st, 2009 at 12:46pm #

    Ralph well done and the rumble, rumble, rumble seems to be the only way. In just a few years climate change/breakdown will be taking a heavy toll Worldwide. Watch the temperatures in the States this Thursday and record highs and that is nothing think 5 then 10 years. What you said about the oil companies very clever these people and insane not to mention not very nice people. Somehow we need a few million people to start one voice in front of the Capital and I have said this before a few speakers before the Sun goes down you would do a good job I am sure and James Hansen who else? After the Sun set’s 2 million people with candles singing “tomorrow tomorrow it’s only a day away”. Why is it that these few get away with this greed and illusion of knowledge and insanity because they can as we are to busy trying to find a job paying bills at compound interest trying to figure out where to move the tent next and where is the next meal coming from as we are told to call, call now. Do you need a permit for a little get together in front of the Capital?

  2. RH2 said on April 21st, 2009 at 1:38pm #

    Don Hawkins,

    On February 24th, 2008 Mr. Nader announced that he will run as an independent presidential candidate. He became 0.5% of votes, was third behind Obama and McCain. At last Obama was elected president. Are those happy Latinos and Blacks, who voted for Obama, bankers and Harvard graduates? Were they all able to pay their bills? Did they all know where the next meal was coming from? Has Mr. Nader not told them where the American System would lead to? Has he not been crying for rumble for years?
    Why has he failed to impress them? Whom do you think could you mobilize for rumble, rumble, rumble. I suspect you are dreaming in the middle of your hopelessness (U.S. citizen?). Your social system is chronically sick and must collapse from within. Your drivel will not change anything. What about going out and marching behind the green garden of the Black House? It is nice to spot the new vegetables of Mrs Obama !

  3. Dogwood said on April 21st, 2009 at 2:14pm #

    BRAVO RALPH !!!!

    and BRAVO to DISSIDENT VOICE for RUNNING RALPH’S COLUMN !!!

    Ralph writes a vitally important column about weekly.

    Go to Nader.org for past, present, and future columns.

    Here’s hoping Dissident Voice will continue to include them.

    And for the latest and most crucial health care “rumbling”,
    go to singlepayeraction.org

  4. Don Hawkins said on April 21st, 2009 at 3:35pm #

    RH2 good one. There seems to be many social systems that are chronically sick. It seems that we treat each other like we treat the Earth not well. These systems seem to be more and then more. Millions of words have been written on this and still we go on the same way. A few not only want more but a lot more and we call them leaders. Well the Earth is now chronically sick and so far it doesn’t look good. A new way of thinking is needed and we see a fight from only a few to start that new way of thinking and more and have more is still winning if you call that winning. In twenty years if we are still here to just have a nice quiet cup of coffee in peace will be a luxury. There is still time but not much about 9 years to go for it that’s we start today and in 9 years have a new way of thinking in place sort of. It looks like these few who want a lot more so called leaders have decided not to do what is needed and go out in style if you can call that style. I will be watching the Senate the next few months and there game of illusion and we should know if we are going to try. So far it doesn’t look good. I always’ say calm at peace I see no other way. Kind of defeats the purpose to do it any other way. I do know one thing for sure if Obama doesn’t get this started and soon it probably will not happen. I am sure a few think that technology will save us. You know maybe antimatter can be perfected a new way of thinking is needed. Water lack of water is already a big problem and will get bigger the problem. China and India are well on there way and that collapse from within has already started. In the States here it has started in a little different way and yet you still see commercials on TV that tell you to call call now there’s just something about that that is very very wrong. The next year will not be boring as those few who want to try are not going to just give up. A more than just a few are needed 2 milliom to start calm at peace one voice Capital. Do you need a permit? There’s that damn question mark again.

  5. Don Hawkins said on April 22nd, 2009 at 1:24am #

    Does that permit have to be notarized I am almost sure it has to be notarized.

  6. RH2 said on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:57am #

    Don Hawkins,

    I understand how you feel and really did not intend to discourage you. Yet, as you yourself say, it does not look good on earth. The Indians and Chinese undoubtedly burden the environment. But the administrations in Washington have not offered them a better example. As you certainly know, the mindset and behavior in Washington have a huge influence on many parts of the world. Nader has struggled to help the Americans break out of the destructive grasp of the empire and brutal capitalism. But the voters have not accepted his alternative. Anyhow, I hope you would find active fellows.