Americans are furious.
We are furious that some CEOs are getting bonuses by way of taxpayer money. We are furious that 60 days after Obama took office the economy isn’t fixed. We are mad that we are spending money we don’t have. We are mad we’re losing our jobs and homes. We are mad as hell.
We should be, but not for what’s going on right here and now, but for the events that brought us to this moment in our collective history. Some people say that this is all the previous administration’s fault. It is not. This has been going on for some time, over decades and under many different administrations.
Let’s start with Ronald Reagan. Reagan was famous for saying, “Government isn’t the solution; it’s the problem. And there we went. From there on out, the powers that be started chipping away at the regulation put into place at the time of the Great Depression (the ones put into place so we’d never see another Great Depression). The markets were free to do whatever the hell they want.
Under Clinton, the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act was passed which repealed the Glass Steagall Act of 1932 which prohibited a bank from offering investment, commercial banking and insurance services. This was done because the banks were in our legislators pockets. In fairness to Clinton, this was a republican bill. But he signed it. From this act, AIG emerged, and Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. And things were going fine for awhile. CEOs started making bigger and bigger bonuses. Success should be rewarded. And apparently, CEOs think that their own success should be rewarded at a rate of 200 times the amount of its average worker.
In the 1990’s we saw another thing happening: Globalization. CEOs figured out that they could send American jobs overseas and pay someone in 3rd world country $200 a month to do the same job. By the end of the decade, nearly all of our manufacturing jobs were placed overseas. The money the companies were saving in labor meant more profit and of course more bonuses for the CEOs. All the while, we stupidly went on buying their products while our jobs were being shipped away.
During the time of 2000 and now, wages went down. We settled for jobs making less money because we believed that our work wasn’t worth as much as it used to be. And our incomes declined. Wall Street made bets (aka credit default swaps) on whether or not we’d go belly up on our mortgages. And when we started walking away from our debts because we didn’t have our jobs anymore (and because we figured out we were duped with the whole adjustable rate mortgage thing), Wall Street lost their bets.
Now we have to bailout AIG, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup because they are too big to fail. And they are. They hold most of American wealth. If they no longer existed, our economy would collapse. But they are only too big to fail because Congress gave them the power to be. So when you hear them say the government is too big, remember this was all caused by shrinking the government. Our government didn’t work for us, the people. THAT should make you mad as hell.