trillion dollars. Now that’s some money. When all is said and done,
that is roughly the amount it will take to save that shining beacon
for all the world to follow, American predatory capitalism.
What could $1 trillion buy you? Well, you could buy
a failed war in Iraq for about that much. In contrast, it would
cost $55 billion a year to wipe out child poverty in the U.S. And
not doing anything about child poverty costs us $500 billion a year.
Some experts are telling us that this bailout of
Wall Street by the taxpayers - with no oversight, no strings attached,
no obligations for those who seek the bailout - is necessary to
prevent a total collapse of the economy. As for this, I say don’t
give it to them. After all, we were always told that the free market,
the invisible hand, unencumbered by government regulation, will
take care of itself. The Wall Street robber barons would never find
such charity in their hearts for the common folk. They would tell
us that we can’t depend on government handouts, that we should pull
ourselves up by our bootstraps and play by the rules.
And what’s in it for us?
We certainly don’t need a 9-11-style commission to
state the obvious, that this financial meltdown is the result of
greed. It has finally put to rest a number of fallacies:
first fallacy is that what is good for Wall Street is good for
Main Street, and that increases in worker productivity lead
to wage increases. If that were true, then as Wall Street boomed,
the average family would not have witnessed a stagnation or
decline in their standard of living. Capitalism depends on making
a profit, so they say, and if that means cutting wages, then
so be it.
second is that Wall Street hates socialism. Not true. Apparently,
they love socialism for the few, socialism for themselves, and
to hell with everyone else.
third is that deregulated free market capitalism, served up for
public consumption, is the best thing since shrimp and cheese
grits. The reality, however, is pretty clear. Deregulation is
a proxy for greed and excess, allowing the hustlers to run their
hustle unencumbered, in the light of day, and with the sales receipt
in hand for the government they just bought and paid for, and
these swindlers have the sales receipt to prove it. Unregulated
markets give you mortgage scams, a polluted environment, and now
a wrecked economy.
why should we bail out companies that have been run into the ground,
with jobs slashed or outsourced, while the heads of these ruined
enterprises are rewarded for their failure with $40 million golden
parachutes? Why should we throw good money after bad, and feed a
fundamentally broken system that has no accountability to the public?
And who is going to bail out the common, everyday people? The money
always seems to be there for certain things, such as war profiteering
and corporate bailouts, and of course, that massive upward redistribution
of wealth that is eviscerating the poor, the working class and middle
class. If we are going to have a good old- fashioned, socialist-style
bailout for some, why can’t we have it for all?
Those of you who read the Color of Law column regularly
know that I often refer back to Dr. King, and I think he has provided
some words that are perfect for the situation in which America finds
itself. He said that we, this nation, needs a “shift from a thing-oriented
society to a person-oriented society,” and a “radical redistribution”
of wealth and power. Sounds good to me. Perhaps there is no better
time than the present.
Some people say that the New Deal saved capitalism
from communism. Others say it saved America from capitalism. Still
others say it saved capitalism from itself. What is certain, however,
is that conservatives have done everything in their power to remove
the last traces of the New Deal. And it is that very assault on
the vestiges of the New Deal - with its relief for the unemployed,
economic recovery and reform of the financial system, and greater
acceptance of trade unionism as a counterbalance to corporate power
- that helped create today’s hot mess in the financial sector. It
will undoubtedly take a move as dramatic as the New Deal, if not
bolder, to make things right.
But if the entire system is not reformed, with an
eye toward bringing economic justice, changing the configuration
of the economic pie and removing the stranglehold that corporations
have on this society, then we have a problem.
Editorial Board member, David A. Love, JD, is a lawyer and journalist
based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive
Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune
News Service, In These Times and
Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons
(St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK
spokesperson, organized the first national police brutality conference
as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and
served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges. His blog is davidalove.com. Click
to contact Mr. Love.