Executive Entitlement Vs We The People Democracy

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
There have so been many examples lately of the wealthy and the executive class having a sense that they are superior and entitled to fleece and feed off of the rest of us. Here is one more.
BP CEO Tony Hayward on who will be responsible for paying oil spill damages,

Mr Hayward reiterated a promise that BP “will honour all legitimate claims for business interruption”. Asked for examples of illegitimate claims, he said: “I could give you lots of examples. This is America — come on. We’re going to have lots of illegitimate claims. We all know that.”

So with this terrible oil tragedy ruining the ecology of a whole region, killing off the livelihoods of the people who depend on that ecology, he starts right out by mocking Americans who might go to court to collect for the damage that BP has caused them. “We all know” that there are going to be illegitimate claims. Frivolous lawsuits. Moochers and parasites, just waiting for a chance to get their hands on BP’s big pile of loot—the pile that Hayward and other executives and producers worked so hard to accumulate. (BP’s first quarter profit in 2010 was over $6 billion.)
Mind you, this was after BP got caught making fishermen sign waivers agreeing not to ask for more than $5,000 in damages from the company if they wanted work in the company’s cleanup effort. Got that? The fishermen are thrown out of work by BP’s huge Gulf oil catastrophe. So, desperate for any work they can get they ask for work doing the dangerous job of helping with the cleanup effort, and before “letting” them work BP makes them sign a form saying that they won’t ask for more than $5,000 for ruining their livelihood. Or else they won’t get any work helping with the cleanup.
Look how far down the road we have gone.
The entitled executives demand deregulation, because regulation is “government interference” and “meddling” in the affairs of businesspeople.
Then, with the protections removed, they call for “tort reform,” which means citizens can’t sue for compensation for damages after the fact.
Of course, they are trying to prevent the meddling government from setting up a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would prevent scamming, cheating, fleecing and bamboozling of consumers – at least in financial products. (Other scamming, fleecing and bamboozling would still be OK.)
And most important, keep the government from taxing the wealthy or businesses — and this keeps the interfering government from having the funds for meddlesome inspections and enforcing laws and regulations that keep them from doing anything they want to do.
But government is We, the People, and we are supposed to be in charge here, and making the decisions. Not a few executives who feel entitled to anything they want. They think We, the People are meddling and interfering, because they are so much smarter, and know so much better than us, the herd. So they demand deregulation. They demand that government keep its nose out of their business. This is how we have ended up with catastrophe after catastrophe, finance, mining, oil and debt disasters.
We, the People have to restore our own understanding of our own power and responsibility. These things happened because WE stopped being eternally vigilant. We are the ones who have let them get their noses under the tent, and it is up to us to take back control of our own democracy.
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Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The terrible Gulf oil, West Virginia mining, Wall Street finance and government debt disasters all demonstrate the ongoing catastrophic and continuing results of conservative policies. Each of these is a direct consequence of letting corporate conservatives take over government and dismantle the regulatory and democratic protections that We, the People fought so hard for following the Great Depression — itself a previous demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.
How often have you had to hear that “the market” is the best way to run things? That is is “self-correcting?” That regulations are government “interference” or “meddling” in the market? That business/free markets/private sector always does things better or is more efficient than government? When you hear these you are experiencing the clash between a “one-dollar-one-vote” free market system — as we had before the Teddy Roosevelt progressive era and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal — and “one-person-one-vote” democratic, We, the People system that brings the benefits of our economy and our country to the most people. But because of the power of money and marketing most people are hearing only one side of an ongoing argument between the wealthy few and the broad masses of working people.
For decades we have heard these pro-market, anti-government arguments repeated over and over and over and over and over and over. Big corporations have a lot of money to buy a big megaphone, so you hear that government is bad, business is good and the people ought to just keep their noses out of the marketplace and stop telling businesses how to do things. You hear that taxes are bad, “hurt the economy,” “cost jobs,” “take money out of the economy,” “just get passed through to customers anyway” and a million similar great-sounding slogans that fall down under minimal evaluation. They have been repeated over and over, until we forgot why we had fought so hard for strong government regulations and high taxes at the top.
After the disaster of Nixon the country learned about cracks in our democracy that let big money get their nose under the tent. But after Watergate we didn’t plug all of the leaks, and big money got into the tent anyway. They used their position to give themselves more power, and used that power to give themselves even more, etc. and now we have a system that is corrupted absolutely.
So with the conservative government of Reagan and then later under the all-out anti-government conservative administration of George W. Bush we have had the opportunity of seeing just what happens when these “free market” ideas are given free reign to replace democracy. Anti-government zealots were put into positions inside the government and used that power to take apart the protections that We, the People had painstakingly built.
Taxes were cut to “defund” government in order to “starve the beast.” The strategy was create huge deficits so the public would later demand cuts in government benefits. In the meantime the deficits would be used as an excuse to cut government oversight, inspections and enforcement of rules restricting the activities of big corporations. But all they did was create huge deficit that added up to massive debt.
Katrina was the first clear, public demonstration of the governing offered by conservatives. When they talked about replacing progressive ideas of “we’re in this together” and “watching out for each other” with “personal responsibility” they meant it. And the country saw what that meant to real people in real trouble.
More recently we have been hearing about disaster after disaster and catastrophe after catastrophe, all caused by businesses running out of control, aided by conservative government that relaxed or just stopped enforcing regulations and laws. Each catastrophe is beyond the scope or willingness of private businesses to repair, requiring public intervention, at great cost. (But never any suggestion of “clawback” – or getting back the profits that were made while creating the catastrophe.)
We all certainly know about the Wall Street financial crisis caused by the big banks and insurance giants. We heard about the SEC ignoring warnings about Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs and all the others. We’ve seen hearings about the things that WaMu was doing, and loans going to people who couldn’t read, and brokers making up incomes on “liar loans” and ratings agencies giving top ratings to “designed to fail” bond deals that investment banks and hedge funds had put together so they could make huge “swap” bets against them when the loans went under… The government, under control of “free market” conservatives looked the other way the whole time.
They brought down the economy of the whole world, requiring government bailouts that added up to more money that has been spent by our government in the history of the country. And now they are fighting tooth and nail to keep We, the People from passing financial reforms to bring Wall Street back under control.
Just recently there was the West Virginia mining disaster caused by deregulation, sweet deals between the company and regulators and lack of enforcement. The CEO of the Massey Energy had literally bought himself a judge, who then voted in favor of Massey Energy. Corrupted absolutely, 29 dead later.
And now, the huge, huge catastrophe in the Gulf.
This is the Reagan Revolution coming home to roost, and I will be writing about the terrible price we are paying and will be paying for a long time for the failed experiment in conservative ideology.
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