Thursday, November 18, 2010

Checks and Balances and Free Enterprise

Corporations have done many fine things, they have developed many fine products and improved the quality of life in many ways, and they deserve credit and recognition for these accomplishments

But the driving corporate motive of profits for a select few is a  non-starter when it comes to serving all of We the people of the United States.

What have we seen when the concepts of "free enterprise" and a shackled government have dominated our economy and country?
  • The "Robber Barons" and rapacious monopolies as the industrial revolution kicked into high gear after the Civil War;
  • Exploitation of workers, including child workers, in sweat shops with no provisions for their health and safety.  (In the US 100 years ago; in the third world today);
  • A meat industry 100 years ago which produced and got rich on unsanitary meat.  (And a food industry today which can neither promise nor deliver safe and healthy food);
  • Triangle Shirt Waist Factory tragedies where hundreds of workers were incinerated because workers weren't entitled to safe working conditions.  (Today: the Upper Big Branch Mine collapse, the 47 killed in the Xingdong Number Two Mine disaster in China, etc);
  • An economy of rich and poor, with a scant middle class.  (After a century of progressive economics and a blossoming middle class, we are seeing the middle class rapidly disappear in the face of Reaganomics and right wing economics);
  • A couple of centuries of repeated series of banking failures and panics about every 15-20 years; put on hold during effective use of the New Deal banking regulatory scheme, revived with the crash of 2007-8 following the Reagan to Bush II's evisceration of effective banking regulations);
  • A country in which many of our legislators were bought and sold by those with the money (also in modern revival);
  • A country where the elderly and the sick and the dispossessed had no safety net.
  • Toxic waste dumps, A Great Lake which was near dead, vast "islands" of waste clogging our oceans, a climate on the edge of changing all of life as we know it.
  • Millions of jobs outsourced to foreign countries at the huge economic and societal cost to our country.

Unrestrained govrnment is bad, but so is unrestrained "mammon," AKA unrestrained commerce and corporatism.

Our country and economy do best when we have balance - when we have checks and balances on the centers of power.

Our votes are a check and balance on government.

Where are the checks and balances on "free enterprise" and the giant corporations which use that concept to seek profits for a few among us at the expense of people, the environment and basic justice?

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