The Costs Of Deregulation.

For nearly 40 years, those politicians who represent big business have been pushing an agenda of deregulation. They want to “get the government out of the way of business.” And they have been amazingly successful.

Since the push for deregulation began, we have deregulated airlines resulting in lost service, rising airfares for many, the demise of regional airlines and the mergers of the few remaining large airlines. We have deregulated commodities resulting in the run-up of costs for everything from electricity and precious metals to oil and grains. We have deregulated banking resulting in predatory loans by banks that are considered too big to fail.

Even for those industries that have not yet been deregulated, we have seen a series of coal ash spills, chemical spills, oil spills, manure spills, fertilizer explosions and mining disasters. We have seen Medicaid and Medicare fraud, abuse in private prisons, tax fraud, commodities fraud, and, of course, the worst economic disaster since 1929…the collapse of our banking system.

Our corporations have imported flammable clothing made in sweatshops overseas. They have imported toys colored with lead paints that are poisonous to children. We have seen the poisoning of our food system by corporations that cruelly confine animals in small cages then pump them full of antibiotics to offset the inevitable danger of diseases. We have seen thousands of consumers poisoned with carelessly handled meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. We have even seen our pets poisoned with pet foods containing uninspected ingredients from overseas.

Despite a growing trend of corporate negligence, fraud and abuse, we hear the constant drumbeat of Teapublicans screaming “over-regulation!” They claim that government oversight and litigation is costing American jobs. They want to give corporations access to the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas in order to extract oil and minerals while leaving behind a toxic wasteland of poisons and destruction. They want to allow oil companies to drill in the Arctic Ocean and along our entire coasts. They want to permit a foreign-owned mining company to extract uranium from the Grand Canyon. They want to permit a foreign-owned oil company to transport the world’s most toxic oil across the length of our nation. They want…they just want.

Even as this is being written, the corporate tools otherwise known as the Republican Party have a case before the United States Supreme Court that would emasculate the Environmental Protection Agency…an agency that is underfunded and overburdened by the callous actions of greedy corporations. If the Republican Party and its Tea Party Parasites have their way, they will not only render the EPA mute. They will further weaken the USDA by allowing meatpackers as well as fruit and vegetable packers to self-inspect their produce. They are already in the process of passing laws forbidding unauthorized recordings of the mistreatment of animals and the mishandling of produce.

There is nothing inherently evil about corporations. Many are socially-aware and contribute a great deal to our society besides jobs. But far too many are only concerned with their bottom lines and will trade long-term consequences for short-term profits. Further reducing or eliminating our watchdog agencies will benefit no one except corporate shareholders.

Today’s Corporate CEO No One To Look Up To.

The CEO of a corporation is supposed to act as the rudder of the ship; a leader; someone that sets an example for the rest of the corporation’s employees. But, increasingly, CEOs set an example of greed and unethical, even criminal, behavior.

According to a recent study by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), in 2012 the CEOs of large corporations were paid approximately 354 times as much as the average American worker. Worse, about 40 percent of the CEOs were fired for cause, paid fines or settlements for fraud, or resorted to asking the government to bail out their companies.

Some leadership!

The IPS study also found that about 30 percent of corporations led by the highest-paid CEOs were subsidized with taxpayer money. By taking advantage of a variety of tax deductions and loopholes, CEOs have been able to increase corporate profits while reducing or eliminating corporate taxes. And since most of these corporations are multinational, many have created P.O. Box “headquarters” in offshore tax havens to shelter corporate profits. By “gaming” the tax codes, the CEOs are able to pocket the savings for themselves.

Moreover, most CEO compensation is based on share price. That may seem like a good idea that encourages CEOs to work for the benefit of stakeholders. But the real reason for such compensation plans is self-interest. It’s easy for a CEO to make decisions that will increase sales and share prices over the short term, yet mortgage the company’s future. Unfortunately, many CEOs simply don’t care about the future because they don’t plan to be with the company more than 2-3 years. That’s all the time they need to be set for life.

But many want even more.

Unwilling to settle for multi-million dollar salaries, stock options, perks and a long list of benefits, some corporate CEOs create what amount to elaborate Ponzi schemes and a variety of high stakes gambling schemes using investors’ money. When their schemes fail, they seldom face charges and, even when they’re indicted, they’re seldom subjected to jail time. On those rare occasions when they are, “jail” often looks more like a country club and their sentences are often reduced or commuted.

Worse, when unscrupulous CEOs are fired, resign or are forced out, they almost always receive “golden parachutes” consisting of full retirement benefits and large lump sum payments allowing them to walk away with tens of millions in ill-gotten gains subsidized by investors and middle class taxpayers.  Meanwhile a high school dropout from the inner city who steals $50 can serve years of hard time.

It makes one wonder whatever happened to the nation that once proudly proclaimed “all men are created equal.”