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.

What’s Wrong With The US? Connect The Dots.

It’s probably self-evident, but our government is no longer of the people, by the people and for the people. A more accurate description would be of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations.

But how did we get here? How have a few powerful multinationals and one percent of the population usurped power from the vast majority of the people? In order to fully understand this, all you need to do is connect the dots.

  • We have allowed a few large corporations to create virtual monopolies, often with the help of government subsidies. These corporations buy out, squeeze out and drive out small businesses.
  • The CEOs of these corporations sit on each others’ Boards and approve each others’ compensations.
  • A portion of CEO compensation is based on the companies’ productivity and share price. That means the CEOs strive to cut costs (employee benefits and salaries) while increasing the price of products and services.
  • Once corporations achieve maximum productivity and profit with US employees, they are encouraged to offshore jobs in order to further reduce labor costs and employee benefits.
  • As corporations expand around the world, it becomes easier to stash profits offshore in order to reduce their tax burden and further increase profits.
  • These increased profits and compensation allow corporations to “invest” millions in the political campaigns of those who will support corporate interests.
  • The campaign contributions by corporations and corporate leaders leads to a massive increase in the cost of running for office, driving away those who might represent ordinary working people.
  • Corporate-financed Political Action Groups and associations, such as the US Chamber of Commerce spend additional millions to support corporate-friendly candidates.
  • Once the corporate-friendly candidates are sworn into office, they pass legislation that benefits their contributors.
  • Corporations and industries finance large lobbying efforts to further impact legislation resulting in large government contracts and subsidies.
  • Eventually, the corporate-friendly politicians nominate and approve judicial appointments that make the courts more friendly to corporate interests (see Citizens United v FEC, Buckley v Valeo and Bowman v Monsanto).
  • Politicians, with help from the courts (see Shelby County v Holder), undermine the voting rights of minorities and others who oppose them. At the same time, they wage war against the poor by cutting education, unemployment benefits and food stamps. They allow corporations to steal their savings, even their homes without repercussions.

We can take back our government, but it won’t be easy. It starts with election finance reform that takes the massive amounts of money out of political campaigns. It ends with politicians who, in the interests of ordinary people, are willing to break up “too big to fail” corporations as President Theodore Roosevelt once did.