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Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in Economy, Politics, Society | 9 comments

Arab Spring, American Fall

The overthrow of despotic Middle East governments is followed by an insurrection in the U.S., not against decades of tyranny but to destroy centuries of democracy that have served the national well.

Today’s “hyper-connected world” cuts both ways, empowering both the oppressed in the Arab world and the over-entitled and ignorant here.

As Barack Obama’s approval ratings fall to a new low, the GOP gives us potential replacements who would put the nation into default (Michele Bachmann), gut government completely (Ron Paul) and denounce Social Security as unconstitutional (Rick Perry).

Those who rail against “elitist” politicians are demonstrating what pseudo-populist demagogues can do to stir up misinformation and class hatred in the age of the Internet and 24/7 cable TV.

When FDR fought “the unscrupulous money changers” of Big Business and Wall Street during the Great Depression, there was no Rupert Murdoch to undermine him with wall-to-wall Fox News sniping and Wall Street Journal denunciations of a sitting President as “an anti-American leftist.”

Americans hear more from corporate lobbyists than the sanity of Warren Buffet who declares bluntly, “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks…My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”


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  • Allen

    Warren Buffet is my hero. I’m going down first thing tomorrow, to Nebraska Furniture Mart, and buy a new recliner!

    I’m even going to ask the sales staff to pick it out for me!

  • When FDR ran “against the banks”, he meant their uncontrolled mis-use of the nation’s money supply. He got it in Glass-Steagall. You know, the one that Democrats and Republicans repealed in 1999 and have been strangely silent on ever since.

    No, trying to leave provably unsustainable programs intact until there is no choice but gut them is the new definition of “sanity”.

    Strange world we live in.

  • Allen

    Glass-Steagall-From Free Dictionary-

    Despite attempts to reform Glass-Steagall, the legislature has not passed any major changes—although it has passed bills that relax restrictions. Banks may now set up brokerage subsidiaries, and underwrite a limited number of issues such as asset-backed securities, corporate bonds, and commercial paper.

    The Glass-Steagall Act restored public confidence in banking practices during the Great Depression. However, many historians believe that the commercial bank securities practices of the time had little actual effect on the already devastated economy and were not a major contributor to the Depression. Some legislators and bank reformers argued that the act was never necessary, or that it had become outdated and should be repealed.

    Congress responded to these criticisms in passing the Gramm-Leach-Bilely Act of 1999, which made significant changes to Glass-Steagall. The 1999 law did not make sweeping changes in the types of business that may be conducted by an individual bank, broker-dealer or insurance company.

    Instead, the act repealed the Glass-Steagall Act’s restrictions on bank and securities-firm affiliations. It also amended the Bank Holding Company Act to permit affiliations among financial services companies, including banks, securities firms and insurance companies. The new law sought financial modernization by removing the very barriers that Glass-Steagall had erected.

  • Allen


    The problem is that oversight becomes privatized in everything but name. Thus the Banks become the customers whom pay the inspectors. Making the inspectors subservient to the customer for their income. Not a good way to oversee and correct business shenanigans boys!

  • JSpencer

    I can only imagine (in my nightmares) what kind of damage Rick Perry might do to this ailing country in concert with the current USSC. He could take up where GWB left off. I’d like to borrow a word from KG to describe that scenario: GACK!!!

  • DLS

    Too many ignore the real problems (entitlements designed as is to fail, as well as over-spending and overreach by governments) and fixate on or obsess about the superficial or trivial or small things.

    The worse actually fight any admission that there are problems with those entitlements, in addition to any mention, never mind effort, at reform of them. And then there is reform of all the other spending…how bad are the Usual Suspects about these, too?

    The worst are demanding from Obama and Congre-Dems “big, bold new plans [and spending],” which is introvertibly demented, in addition to refusing to admit any problems with and any reform to entitlements (and typically to reducing other spending, other than the liberal-bugaboo military).

  • Thanks Allen. I used to provide the wiki leaks in the past, but it seemed repetitive.

  • slamfu

    Grahm-Leach-Bliley is the deregulation that led directly to our current financial sector mess. The wall between investment banks and commercial banks was put up precisely because the lack of it is what preceded the 1929 crash. Once it was removed it took the short sighted profit driven mavens all of what, 8 years to tank the system again? Good job guys. “Yea, we don’t need those laws anymore, I’m sure the banks wouldn’t do that again”.

    And it didn’t repeal Glass-Steagal, just part of it. The fact that the FDIC insures commercial bank accounts is still there, so that now they are playing the stock market with money that the gov’t HAS to pay back if they lose it. There was absolutely no reason for them not to take the huge risks they did. If they don’t repeal it, its just going to happen again.

  • Links. I meant wiki links.

    Anyway, Glass-Steagall put some limits on how banks work, which to me is a way of limiting the power that banks get from being able to lend out more than they have.

    That’s part of what I mean when saying that nothing has been fixed. Our financial systems are just a broken as when the crisis hit. Even worse, the GSEs and TBTF banks now have implicit government guarantees that give them a market advantage over the smaller institutions.

    We need smaller, more “failable” institutions and tighter ties between power and accountability, but we’re getting the opposite from the mainline parties.

    No, we’re supposed to be fighting over taxes. Pay no attention to man behind the curtain.

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