Obama Must Assert Democratic Control Over Economic Forces
Michael Sandel, Political Philosopher, Harvard University
Posted: August 30, 2010 07:14 PM
From the Spring Democracy: A Journal of Ideas symposium, "What Happened?": Obama can still redefine liberalism, but he must bring economic power to heel.
Imagine a president, or a presidential candidate, taking on Wall Street in blunt language such as this: "We have been dreading all along the time when the combined power of high finance would be greater than the power of the government. Have we come to a time when the president of the United States or any man who wishes to be the president must doff his cap in the presence of this high finance, and say, 'You are our inevitable master, but we will see how we can make the best of it'?"
Or this: "The supreme political task of our day is to drive the special interests out of our public life."
Or this: "Through new uses of corporations, banks, and securities," a privileged economic elite has "reached out for control over government itself," rendering political equality "meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group [has] concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor -- other people's lives."
Today, mainstream commentators and editorial writers would disparage such talk as irresponsible populist rhetoric. But American political leaders have not always been as deferential toward economic power as they are expected to be today. The statements quoted above were not made by far-out radicals, but by Woodrow Wilson (1912), Theodore Roosevelt (1910), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936).
It is striking to notice the difference between their liberalism and ours. For these icons of twentieth-century liberalism, the first question of politics was how to subject economic power to democratic control. more
Coup d'Etat: Standard & Poor's Is Now Giving Orders to Congress ... and the American People
Richard (RJ) Eskow, Consultant, Writer, Senior Fellow with The Campaign for America's FuturePosted: August 30, 2010 03:05 PM
There's been a lot of talk recently about the enormous power that's been given to the Deficit Commission, which is co-chaired by Alan "Social Security recipients are milking it" Simpson and dominated by people who have advocated cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But here's an aspect of the story that's gone unremarked: Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency whose reputation should rightfully have been shattered by the economic crisis, is now dictating policy to the United States government. S&P just put our elected officials on notice: Submit to the proclamations of the Deficit Commission or we'll downgrade our rating of government debt.
That's blackmail, plain and simple. This threat comes from a privately-owned company whose rating process is riddled with conflicts, and which has gotten virtually every critical assessment of recent years spectacularly wrong. Enron? Lehman? Subprime mortgages? They were zero for three. Yet rather than reining back their penchant for reckless proclamations, the chairman of S&P's "sovereign rating committee" said that our elected officials' response to the Deficit Commission would be crucial to its analysis of US debt. John Chambers said last week: "It is very important for the credit standing of the United States that the Congress considers very carefully what the fiscal commission proposes." Just in case his intent wasn't clear enough, he added: "It is very important for Congress to take the required steps." more
The Revenge of Main Street
by gjohnsit Mon Aug 30, 2010 at 11:48:24 AM CDT
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." - Abraham Lincoln
Wall Street has a problem.
You see Wall Street functions much like Las Vegas. Their immense wealth depends on the continuing myth that their games aren't rigged, and the willful denial of reality by the suckers.
Just like Vegas, no one wants to talk about the money they lost playing the stock market. Instead, all you here about is how everyone is getting rich at the blackjack table. If you aren't getting obscenely wealthy betting on interest rate spreads then there must be something wrong with you.
In reality, the reason why you lost money is because the game is rigged. The House always wins in the end. The suckers are the ones who think there are rules. Like Wall Street, Vegas exists to separate you from your money.
Wall Street may seem all powerful, but like Vegas it has an Achilles Heel - if the people don't feed the beast it will starve.
If the greed of The House gets too extreme, and the rigging of the games becomes too obvious to ignore, people will stop gambling at the casinos and in the stock market. The House goes broke.
That tipping point, where the willful denial of Main Street starts to break down because the game rigging is so blatant, may have finally been reached. more