We are witnessing yet another round of the “theatre of the absurd,” or what I also call the political/judicial circus, the biggest, most expensive, and unending show ever in America. I’m referring to the opening of the 112th show from Congress. The Republicans, now in charge of the House, have rehearsed their parts and can’t wait to get big government off the backs of big business. New House speaker, John Boehner, proclaimed that Congress is going to give government back to the people. Fat chance.
“The more things change, the more they are the same.” Neither of the party twins, both pawns of Corporate America have done anything since the 1970s but perpetuate “hands-off” (i.e., deregulations and lax enforcement) and “hand-outs” (i.e. corporate welfare, including “warfare welfare”) government when it comes to dealing with big business.
Dangerous to America: Deregulation and an Unbridled Free-Market
The proof is already in the flattened pudding that free-market theory and its practice are utterly unworkable, destructive, and a hypocritical ploy by the corpocracy, the “devil’s marriage” between corporations and government. Economic Katrina (i.e., the Second Great Depression) in which Main Street was swamped by Wall Street is what happens when corporations and banks are free to plunder.
Corporations and their allies naturally loathe government regulations. President Jimmy Carter started the trend toward deregulation; President Ronald Reagan accelerated it with gusto; President Clinton declared that “the era of big government is over” and promptly began deregulating everything in sight including the financial services industry; and President Bush’s anti-regulatory actions even outdid Reagan’s record. The party twins know who butters their bread.
One industry after another has been deregulated while the public is told in each instance how competition and efficiency would be boosted, resulting in lower prices and better products and services. It’s the hollow free-enterprise promise that never fails to leave the public holding the bag and worse, as when the deregulated energy industry creates blackouts to jack up energy prices; when deregulated toy makers make toys that can kill; when deregulated tires explode on the highway; when the deregulated agricultural industry lets mad cow disease happen; when deregulated drugs and medical devices kill patients, etc., etc.
Anti-trust regulation is especially weak and toothless. No corporation or bank should be allowed to get so big that when they are on the brink of failing they are bailed out by the government (i.e., the taxpayers) simply because they are deemed “too big too fail.” Free-market ideologues claim that antitrust regulation limits competition. But huge corporations and monopolies are what limit if not kill competition. Moreover, corporate size encourages corporate lawlessness. That is, the bigger the corporation the more likely it will have the opportunity, the incentive, the swagger, the clout, and the impunity from going criminal when it’s the surest way to fatter profits.
Dangerous to America: The Corporate “Get Out of Jail” Card
Speaking of impunity that is almost always what happens when corporations run afoul of the law. Never mind that much of corporate wrongdoing is legal because our government has made it legal, there is enough illegal wrongdoing by corporations left over to cause, says the private watchdog and anti-corporate crusader, Ralph Nader, “more damage to people’s health, safety, and economic resources by far than crime in the streets.”
Government protection of corporate criminality is too big a subject to go into detail here. I would have to describe and critique each of the many corporate “escape hatches” (e.g., legal loopholes, etc., etc) and the many forms of prosecutorial pampering (e.g., deferred prosecutions, etc., etc). Contrast this hands-off approach to corporate crooks by our government to the case of petty thieves in at least one state who are imprisoned for life with little chance of parole if they are convicted of petty thievery three times. The U.S. Supreme Court, incidentally and not surprisingly, upheld the state’s “three strikes and you’re out law.”
No, I will not belabor further how our government protects corporate wrongdoing and the harm it does. I will simply say that the American people ought to be able to rely on their government to protect and promote their health, safety, and general welfare from being endangered by corporate exploitation. But their government is not their government any more. It is a government of, for, and by U.S. corporations.
How can Americans reclaim their government and make it promote and support their own general welfare? Short of a revolution, and that would be a bloody mistake even though Thomas Jefferson thought every generation needs a revolution, Americans will have to unite and mount political pressure guided by a coalition of anti-corpocracy NGOs to pursue legally and peacefully wholesale political, judicial, and economic reforms. Who in America has the stature to lead the way? FDR, with the help of public outrage, crushed the corpocracy of the Flapper Era. Who could be a new FDR? You tell me. I would pick either Ralph Nader or the Rev. Jessie Jackson, but the one is wrongfully blamed for Gore’s defeat and the other would probably be acceptable only to the color blind.
What is America’s future? You tell me. America needs an ambulance and keeps getting a hearse instead. I think America is getting closer to the cemetery and farther away from the emergency ward.