This past weekend while most of us were asleep, at church or simply trying to enjoy ourselves, the Bush administration concocted the greatest government intervention in the financial markets since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Basically, the plan will stem the credit crisis which was threatening to bring about the collapse of Wall Street and financial markets around the world.
However, when all is said and done, the hard, cold fact is that you – the average American taxpayer – will have a near trillion (and possibly more) dollars of debt added to your financial plate. Indeed, the bailout of giant, private corporations with taxpayers’ money is so massive that you, your children and your grand children will be working to pay it off for years to come.
Basically, what the geniuses in the Bush administration plan to do is spend hundreds of billions of dollars of our money to buy up bad mortgages and other so-called “toxic debt.” Being relieved of these debts will enable the giant financial institutions to get back to business as usual with few bad debts and billions of dollars of our money to spend.
News of what the government was planning leaked out last Thursday afternoon. The combined rise of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday and Friday came to better that 700 points. The rich and the powerful were giddy with joy. And would not you be happy if you were facing a financial crisis and the government stepped in and paid off most of your debts with somebody else’s money.
And that is exactly what the plan does. It will use your tax money to rescue a financial system which put itself into crisis by making a host of bad, even stupid, investment decisions
Unfortunately, the trillion-dollar bailout plan will only work for a while because it ignores a basic contradiction of capitalism – the so-called free enterprise market economy. That contradiction is simply the following: Overtime a capitalist economy, by its very competitive nature, tends to concentrate more and more of society’s wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people. The rich get richer; the poor get poorer and the middle class gets smaller.
There are only two things which can slow down this process: 1) A government which properly regulates big business so that it does not overly exploit workers and consumers; and 2) Strong labor unions which can work to insure that the workers get a fair share of the wealth being produced by their labor.
But in America today, big government is in bed with big business working actively to reduce or eliminate the regulations put in place after the Great Depression of 1929. For example, when the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1998, banks and other financial institutions were basically allowed to run wild creating investment instruments which made little or no sense. There was less and less true investing and more and more speculating – a Wall Street euphemism which means something very close to gambling – because the super rich had money to play with.
Meanwhile, there was an economic expansion during the years of the Bush administration in which 90 percent of the money generated went to the already rich. This is even though worker productivity increased. This means people either worked harder or produced more for less pay. But they did not benefit; only the rich did.
Finally, labor unions in America today are at their weakest since World War II. Their ability to guarantee increased wages is virtually gone.
As a result, the rich get richer. Their investments banks, brokerage firms and other financial institutions had so much money that they began to invest in speculative (gambling) ways. And that is why the nation is in the mess it is in today – the super rich had too much money (a lot of it borrowed) and got real stupid with it.
We need progressive government regulation of big business and strong unions to protect the working classes. America’s basic economic problem is that the rich are too rich and are thus prone to speculate and gamble with their money. The second biggest problem is that when the rich get in trouble through greedy speculation, we have politicians who bail them out with our money.