Asia makes big screens and we just watch TV


By Chris Powell
Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Connecticut
Saturday, September 20, 2008

What is it about the United States that every generation it must have a catastrophically mistaken imperial war and a catastrophically expensive rescue of its predatory financial class?

A generation ago the catastrophically expensive rescue of the financial class arose from the collapse of savings-and-loan institutions, which had recklessly lent into a real estate boom against deposits insured by the government even as the government paid little attention to what the banks were doing. Today the catastrophically expensive rescue of the financial class arises from the failure to regulate the great New York financial houses, which were allowed to create and misrepresent bogus financial instruments, now called derivatives, and poison the world financial system with them.

Ten years ago a few members of Congress proposed regulating these instruments, but Congress was dissuaded by worthies such as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who testified that derivatives would diminish risk by dispersing it and thus should be left alone. Of course as it turned out so much risk was created and dispersed that it took the world's economy hostage.

While he now is thundering emptily about accountability, Connecticut's U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd facilitated this failure of regulation from his seat on the Senate Banking Committee. Dodd was a leading advocate of unleashing the financial houses to do whatever they wanted, as by repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. But Connecticut's other members of Congress were just as negligent and approved staffing the financial regulatory agencies via the revolving door from Wall Street. Of course they financed their campaigns largely with financial industry contributions.

Now the country is bankrupt and lemon socialism is replacing free-market capitalism, with the government desperately extending taxpayer guarantees to cover every bit of corporate irresponsibility as the country loses its sovereignty to the nations that hold its proliferating bonds. Asia makes big-screen TVs and Americans mainly just watch television -- but not, it seems, much news.

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