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Capitalism has failed: Face the facts
When the Soviet Union and its state socialism collapsed, the promoters of capitalism kvelled. But ten years later, in the early Bush years, ENRON, a super giant corporation got caught cooking its books to disguise the real state of its operations. It defrauded its stockholders and bilked California taxpayers by planning for an energy shortage at peak times and then jacking up prices. In doing its hanky panky ENRON colluded with a major accounting firm, Arthur Anderson. WorldCom and Adelphia went through similar versions of this corporate hanky panky — pre-dating the later banking and insurance horrors.
The monster-sized companies stole billions. Some of the thieves went to prison. Until then, they had been role models for Republicans and even some Democrats. Business, not government, should run the economy became the mantra of the 1980s, 90s and first eight years of the 21st Century. Business did run the economy — right into the ground. The men — and a couple of women — who directed the scandalous companies came from a culture in which large-scale theft masqueraded as solid business practice. Bernie Madoff and his imitators were only extreme examples. Create a fa?e. That’s the premise from which grand corporate theft derives. Dress well (expensively), rent a high priced office and promise easy money. The public (suckers) will come like flies to honey.
When the house of cards collapses — the U.S. economy among many other economies — a few of the more obvious (super greedy) thieves get caught and even go to prison. The conservative bankers and Wall Street moguls turned out to be reckless radicals who played fast and loose with other people’s money. The rest of the country is paying a terrible price.
The scandals should teach us lessons at a time of economic — dare I say it? — depression. Driving through Oakland, California, one doesn’t have to explain how giant banks suckered poor people into buying home mortgages they couldn’t afford. I wonder if one added up the salaries, bonuses and stock options of the former masters of the universe together with the money they spent on vacations, parties, mistresses and yachts, and if we could somehow rematerialize it, could we then use it toward bringing some of the public and private buildings up to modern standards! Slums have reemerged along with the expression “poor people.” Drive through Newark, New Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware, or Pontiac, Michigan — or dozens more cities throughout the country whose governments have not invested in their poor or in infrastructural repair for decades. Capitalism has failed — again!