Once you have everything, what else is there?
By Jack E. Lohman
We obviously can’t eliminate greed, but we can apply protections for the good of the public. For too long politicians have disregarded the destruction that massive wealth inequality has caused society.
If our economy were viewed as a pie, some people would want more than their share. If viewed as a lake, some will over-fish until there are no more fish. It is simple greed. Can you imagine a game of poker with only one player having all the chips? The card game must stop.
And so would society stop, except that it is made of people and they can get guns and fight back. Take away their food and ability to feed their family, and trouble lies ahead. It has many names — insurrection, anarchy, rebellion, uprising — none of them very pretty.
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Greed is so unfair and so unnecessary, and far more harmful to our society than all the terrorism in the world. And it’s being done to us by our own. To fill the pockets of the rich we must empty those of the poor.
Note the spike in inequality in 1928, just prior to the 1929 crash, as compared to the spike in 2006. And the 1994 takeover of Congress by the Gingrich Republicans. ‘Nuff said.
Yea, I know; some people deserve a bigger piece of the wealth. It’s the CEO thingy, don’cha know. They were shrewd enough to negotiate large wages and benefits and golden parachutes — not because they are worth it, but because they have a conflicted board of directors.
The CEOs sit on each other’s boards and vote to increase each other’s salaries, and the shareholders have little say in the process. And they hire “compensation consultants” to provide themselves cover and lock in a major transfer of wealth from the little guys to the big guys. It’s a good deal, for them.
The recent $50 billion Ponzi scheme should not surprise us. One guy, Bernard Madoff, took money from a few investors on a fake promise. Then took from a few more to show a financial return to the first, and kept going until the bubble burst. That 25 hedge fund managers, in 2006, made at least $230 million didn’t concern them. Smart investors these.
In this case we had laws against fraud, but the SEC failed to report the scam even though they were alerted a decade earlier by industry whistle blowers. When this is over we’ll likely find that the SEC backed off because of pressure from politicians taking campaign money from Madoff. Remember the Keating Five?
On another front, deregulation allowed the oil speculators to bid up oil prices without ever taking delivery, and then after the economy crashed they jumped out, took their profits, and let oil settle to its natural level. Intervention by politicians would have prevented this, and the best way would have been to make speculating illegal.
But speculators are big campaign contributors, so don’t even think about going there. And I know of no law prohibiting oil executives from speculating themselves. How about that?
Enough has been said about the sub-prime and credit mess. None of this would have happened without greed and without deregulation, and deregulation doesn’t happen without politicians taking bribes. Legal bribes, mind you; they call them campaign contributions.
We can regulate industry and we must, though free-marketers will object and the politicians who get bribed to not regulate industry will also object. But we must force the politicians to cease letting the fat cats rule the game and start doing the job they were elected to do.
Only public funding of campaigns will fix the system.
For starters, how about letting Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) go up or down, but never beyond the original rate? Let’s retroactively apply the rule to the mortgages that are still a problem!
So Bush says we’ll give the auto industry money and if they don’t have a plan by March we’ll take the money back! Huh??? They will have spent the money by then and forcing a payback puts them into Chapter 11. Good thinking, Dubya!
GM has a legacy problem they helped create. Congress must mandate that all workers (everywhere) pay into the public social security system, even at a more realistic rate, or if privatized, be run by a third party with sufficient insurance to cover defaults. The same for Medicare.
Neither extreme is good, not even total equality. There must be incentives for people to want to move up the ladder. But leaning too far to one side or the other is bad and we need balance. Fair, but balanced.
Oh, I know. Let’s have another tax break for the wealthy! If it worked the first time, as they claim, it will work again, and we can sure use something that works.