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I DO MEAN TO SAY; “I TOLD YOU SO.”
September 21, 2008 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Tell me again about the “free-market.” Free marketers throw hissy fits if a single mother buys a strip steak with food stamps. Free marketers want her to suffer shame and show humility. Tell me again about the “free-market.” Free marketers go into cardiac arrest at the very mention of universal health care. Aunt Belle should suffer inflamed joints if she does not have a “medical savings” account and suffer shame for having failed to provide for that which she could not afford. Tell me again about the “free market.” Social Security should become a means tested welfare program. Old age pensioners should place their money and trust in fund managers and investment bankers instead of their government. Tell me again about the “free-market.”
Tell me again about the “free market.” Free marketers shout that government should get out of the way of business. We are admonished not to feel badly should the free market rape, pillage and plunder in the manner of Enron. Do not whine we are admonished, just drill in Anwar. Tell me again about the “free market.” Tell me again why American workers must not have an increase in the minimum wage or a living wage. Tell me again about a prescription drug program with “donut” holes for senior citizens while President Bush handed over 14 billion dollars (weighing 420 tons) to the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies.
Tell me again about 12 billion dollars (weighing 360 tons) wrapped in plastic, placed on pallets, loaded by forklifts and flown to Iraq only to vanish upon arrival. Tell me again about Halliburton’s open ended “no bid” contracts in Iraq. Tell me about our pesky little war that costs taxpayers $5000 a second and a far greater price in our dead and wounded. I’ve read that the single day cost of that war is enough money to put an additional 58,000 children in Head Start, give Pell Grants to 153,000 students to attend college or finance another 11,000 border patrol agents. Excuse me. I digress. The magnitude of this current thievery—excuse me again, this bailout, this temporary loan—is the Iraqi war, Enron, WorldCom and Tyco to the power of ten.
At no time in our history have such unfettered excesses become more evident than in the last 8 years of Bush-Cheney. For major corporations it has been a continuous “all you can eat financial buffet” at Dick Cheney’s Carry Out Cash. John McCain's comment that "our economy is fundamentally sound" brings back the image of Herbert Hoover who, in the 1928 Presidential campaign, promised “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” The result was the 1929 stock market crash and a deep, lingering depression with long bread lines and left the Republican Party roaming in the political wilderness for forty years
This time, Welfare Queens—excuse me again—Free Marketers—whose common attire are Gucci where sneakers start at $579 a pair and Armani stretched cotton briefs in red or blue stripes can be had for a trifling $31.00 a pair. Now, substitute “free marketers” with Republican Party. The Republican Party has opposed almost every social program that would improve the lives of our citizens and have been content to allow Twenty-First Century robber barons pilfer and plunder in the name of a free market. However, to place all the blame on the Republicans is too easy and allows the Democrats to escape complicity.
President Carter began deregulating the airlines. The result; we may have more people flying, but they are enjoying it less and the entire experience stinks. Not a single member of Congress even mentions high-speed rail, but we are told that has nothing to do with the fact that the former Leader of the Senate, Democratic Senator Tom Daschle’s wife was and probably remains a highly paid lobbyist for the airlines industry. President Clinton led to drive for NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement, and an agreement that subsidized the flight of jobs to cheaper labor markets. Several years later, Senator Hillary Clinton would assist a company relocate in Buffalo whose primary purpose was to assist mainland corporations to move offshore. Senator Joseph Biden from Delaware and Vice Presidential contender blatantly ushered a bankruptcy bill written by MBNA, a Delaware corporation and the world’s largest credit card company through Congress.
The measure made it more difficult for persons filing bankruptcy to walk away from their debts to credit card companies. The act was a stop-loss guarantee for the credit card companies. They could be as reckless as they dared issuing card to teenagers and college students knowing full well the debtor could not use bankruptcy like corporations and walk away debt free. Despite a lack of grass root support, the measure sailed through Congress with the help of New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton both of whom received $160,000 and $140,000 respectively in campaign contributions from the banking industry. Senator Biden was the recipient of more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from MBNA, but insists without the slightest trace of embarrassment that he was under no undue influence despite the fact that his son works as a corporate executive for MBNA.
The hard fought primary contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, if anything, should have been instructive to the Democratic Party. Those uneducated, unemployed and under employed Democrats—the Wal-Mart Democrats—have a difficult time remembering when any elected Democrat stood on rough political ground and fought for anything. When was the last time a Democratic Presidential Candidate called for the repeal of Section 14b of Taft-Hartley? Wal-Mart Democrats can remember feeling betrayed when Senator Daniel Moynihan joined Senator Dole and President Reagan and proclaimed a bold compromise that “saved Social Security.” On that central issue, the Elected Democratic Aristocracy voted with Republicans to lower the benefits, raise social security taxes and extend the age for eligibility. Instead of saving the program, they weakened it.
There is a free market and it is a gigantic job-creating machine that is largely ignored by government except to impose fees on a sidewalk corn roast. It goes by many different names in different places, Joe’s Pizza, Carol’s Salon, Mom and Pops, Frank’s Tool and Die, Main Street America, small business USA, local companies with 20 or fewer employees creates 80 to 90% of all jobs in the United States. Unlike Enron that was permitted to pillage and plunder until it became an embarrassment or MBNA that can get a stop-loss guarantee on credit card losses, small business owners put their all assets at risk. When a small business goes belly up, owners seldom float away in multi-million dollar golden parachutes.
That raises questions? Are there businesses so large and so financially powerful that their failure could wreck our economy and create a worldwide depression? If that is true, why did we allow that to happen? In this instance, it has been the Republicans who have abandoned the anti-trust principles of Teddy Roosevelt. Or, have lobbyists managed to buy both political parties?
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An armed guard poses beside pallets of $100 bills in Baghdad. Almost $12bn in cash was spent by the US-led authority