by Cameron Salisbury
Nov. 18, 2008
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s ‘emergency’ $700 billion bailout was authorized in record time by both houses of Congress despite the opposition of an estimated 80% of U.S. taxpayers, each of whom seems to have contacted his/her legislators more than once. For days, Congress was flooded with emails and calls with one message: No Wall Street bail out! When the bail out was fully funded, with lightning speed but no hearings, logical justification or concrete plan, it became clearer than ever that the opinions, wishes, demands of the electorate are scarcely worth the cost of the ballots they cast.
Although the immediate cause of the current economic meltdown was the deregulation of Wall Street, banks and the financial services industry, this was far from the first time that citizens have been sold out by elected representatives doing the bidding of Big Business. In fact, dismantling the regulatory/consumer safety net and throwing the taxpayer under the bus has become a way of life in Washington.
We prefer safe drugs. Instead, we get FDA approval of drugs that sicken and kill us. When the body count reaches a boundary of tolerance, they are withdrawn until Big Pharma’s lobbyists can wrangle them back on the market. This game earns billions for Big Pharma and is worth every calculated penny they pay lawmakers and their victims.
We prefer safe and fuel efficient vehicles. Instead, we get what the auto makers decide to serve up, and that is neither notably safe nor fuel efficient. Detroit’s auto industry is now insisting that they are entitled to their share of the buy out billions. They were part owners of Congress long before the current economic crisis, so what they want now is simple payback.
We prefer a sane and reasonable energy policy. Instead, we are held hostage by an unregulated energy sector that rewards run-amok speculation. In 2008, speculators single handedly raised the price of oil to the extent that the economy threatened to grind to a halt. After the price of food, consumer goods, and transportation skyrocketed, after we were left with a lowered standard of living and Congress belatedly threatened action, they crawled back into their holes and oil prices returned to a semblance of normal. Today, with the tacit approval of a complicit Congress and in conjunction with the rest of the economic crisis, the damage done by Big Oil’s engineered bubble appears irreversible.