Saturday, June 4, 2011

Is America to Big to Fail?

There was once a time, just a few short years ago, that the world thought America was too big to fail - just like the Titanic, unsinkable.

We expanded our military might into "emerging markets" to act as a private security force to protect the assets of American-based multi-national corporations...while ever expanding the annual "defense" budget. Over decades America had spent several hundred billion dollars a year in taxpayer-paid government revenues in attempts to spread capitalism democracy around the globe.

These American corporations had discovered a windfall in cheap labor, and empowered the "oppressed" people with back-breaking low-paying jobs. These corporations could make its widgets cheaper in Third World countries run by despots with no regulations, and export those widgets back to the United States for ever greater profits.

The corporations began building more and more factories in once unknown nations around the globe, where the indigenous people might not have ever seen an automobile before. Trinkets flowed in to the shores of America, being sold in retail chains such as Wal-Mart. At first the American consumer had enjoyed the good deals they were getting until they realized their jobs were disappearing.

And not only was cheap labor being exploited for corporate profits, just like in America, natural resources were also being exploited....just to enrich a few very clever "entrepreneurs" who were greasing the palms of American politicians and foreign dictators for permitting this. Big oil, who got taxpayer-paid government subsidies (thanks to the Republicans), used that money to lobby members of the American congress to allow for more domestic drilling whenever the price of oil spiked. Bigger profits when it only costs $10 to produce a barrel of oil that's selling for $100 a barrel (thanks in part to speculators such as the investment bankers like Goldman Sachs).

And these same corporations (those who manufactured, drilled, and mined) weren't the only ones making profits. The big banks (i.e. Goldman Sachs) had lobbied American congressmen, using billions of dollars in bribes, to grease the palms in congress to deregulate the banks and pass the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The stock market and housing market collapsed in 2008 as a result of that Republican-passed legislation that the Democratic President Bill Clinton signed.

When after-the-fact the Democrats passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Republicans have done all they could to undermine the provisions of that bill, and to block the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head a consumer protection agency to reign in the bank's fraud, greed, and abuse. 

The Republicans have always argued that it is government regulation that stymies business, but it was a lack of regulation, transparency, and oversight that allowed the banks to recklessly loot America.

After the American politicians allowed corporations to outsource millions of jobs, and after the politicians allowed the banking Ponzi schemes, it cost ordinary working Americans billions in foreclosures by the big banks. And after the politicians refused to cut military spending, a NEW BREED of politician emerged and came to power in America...The Tea Party.

They allied themselves with the Republican Party, but were really a party of their own. Like a cancer, they infected the other Republicans (making them even more deadly than they previously were). The American voters had wanted "change" because the economy was so bad by this time. So in 2010, they voted for Tea Party candidates, thinking they would reign in the banks, corporations, and corrupt politicians - and finally get Americans back to work again.

But they didn't. Instead these newly elected evangelists went after public radio, abortion rights, labor unions, and government workers. They wanted to end collective bargaining for the working-class, and strip the rights of local governments. They wanted to privatize government run agencies for corporate profits. They wanted to end Medicaid and food stamps for the poor, as though it were the down-trodden that caused America's economic collapse. As though the unemployed had cause their own joblessness.

And the final straw...they wanted to end Medicare and Social Security for America's elderly, as though it was the old people, those who worked hard all their lives, who were the cause of Wall Street's and corporate America's greed, corruption, and indifference to the country.

The Republican/Tea Party social conservative radicals just wants to cut the budget to the bare bone on programs that we need, but refuse to cut any "defense" spending. In fact, in their newest budget proposal they actually want to RAISE military spending by 17 billion dollars more! (Read: The GOP's Real Budget Hatchet Man) Yet, ANY TAX INCREASES AT ALL for big corporations or the very wealthy are completely off the table for them.

The Republicans (because the Democrats said nothing and stood idly by) ruined the middle-class by allowing legislation that weakened labor unions and worker's rights just for the benefit of large multi-national corporations in pursuit of ever more profits, enriching a few on their board-of-directors.

Now America has The Tea Party, who just recently voted unanimously to bring down the entire nation (by not raising the debt ceiling*) if their demands for killing Medicare weren't met. Like threatening to burn down the whole hospital if chemotherapy wasn't denied to a dying cancer patient.

This is what American has become. A nation divided between the "haves" and the "have nots", between the rich and the poor, between the strong and the weak, between the morally bankrupt and the humble, noble, and righteous. America is sinking, and sinking fast, because the almighty dollar has governed the nation for far too long.

But just like during the "Roaring Twenties", the wealthy will party on while the masses suffer and starve, until the country starts listing so acutely that even the most privileged among us will have to realize that the nation was sinking. And just like the Titanic, the world might miss the long ago bygone era of America when she was once great...when it once stood and prospered because of morality, exceptionalism, and had a sense of fair play -  instead of just pure greed.

...just like at the very end of its one and only voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, the orchestra played on as the great and almighty Titanic sunk. 

* Our country's number one concern should be the national debt, and because of that, the U.S. dollar might no longer be pegged to the price of oil (so our currency will no longer be the world's reserve currency of choice). If this happens, the value of the U.S. dollar will drop dramatically (and very quickly), causing massive hyper-inflation. 

If the Bush tax cuts had never been implemented in the first place, and we didn't start two three wars (but instead, had cut military spending), and we had only eliminated the corporate corruption in Medicare (instead of Medicare itself), and regulated greedy corporations and banks, we might not be where we are today. 

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
- From a bygone era

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