The big question: What went wrong?
By Kjersten Jeppesen
What went wrong?
That's the question filling the air-waves and print media since September
'08. As usual, the media projects the official line: that the crash was
a complete surprise. There may be temporary outrage but it's directed toward
their usual "culprits" and away from essential information.
It echoes Bush's assurance that "the economy is essentially sound."
Like many of us, independent economists are not that sanguine. Through independent
media they are drawing the curtains back and exposing the fraud. Creative "innovations" (derivatives,
credit-default swaps, hedge funds, etc.*) in investing and lending were actually
schemes or scams capable of bringing unbelievable rewards to the perpetrators
and their associates while creating havoc in local communities.
The response from the mainstream becomes, "It's not the system, (or "capitalism")
Warning signs were there all along. Anyone old enough to remember "the
great depression" could recognize that the concentration of "wealth" at
the top of the population is not, and could never be, sustainable.
And outside the mainstream media, many voices cried out against the takeover
of our lives and our system by multi-national corporations under the guise
of "freedom from big government."Among the many voices of dissent
was Tony Clarke, head of the Polaris Institute in Canada. In the preface of
his book, SILENT COUP**, he writes of a 1994 Clinton gala for heads of state
from North and South America. This commemorates the first Summit of the
Americas on the expansion of free trade throughout the hemisphere. Also present
were chief executives from some of the largest corporations in the U.S., and/or
Two Mexican journalists asked David Rockefeller, "Mr. Rockefeller, you
were present back in the 1960's, during President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress
Summit with the leaders of Latin America. Can you tell us what, if anything,
has changed since then?"
"Well," he replied, "back then, businessmen like myself, were
sitting on the sidelines, watching the negotiations unfold. But now we're
sitting in the driver's seat, and we're writing many of the documents ourselves."
In the book's text, Clarke runs through the steps in which Canadian legislation
handed control of government to corporations. In reading the narrative, anyone
who paid attention to U.S. congressional actions would recognize and remember
the same legislative steps having occurred earlier in our own country.
Yet, we see that the government solutions are geared to preserving the institutions
that allowed or perpetrated the scams. In their gut, most of us are thinking,
should "our money" continue to go to crooks that've ripped us off?
Independent economists like Joseph Stiglitz fault the shift to de-regulation
of the financial institutions. Along with us, they recognize that our elected
representatives have ignored their responsibility to us, their constituents,
and as Molly Ivans once said, "they danced with the guys what brung `em."
That means bail-outs for failed businesses and cut-backs in services to communities
and the needy. It means more unemployment, and more need for food banks and
presently unavailable low cost housing.
It means an increasingly deteriorating infrastructure, and increasing costs
to the environment and ecosystem, more poverty and thus more crime, more stresses
and anger resulting in more scapegoating of perceived enemies. It means possible
new wars to supply perceived needs.
So where does that take us? Does the Green Party have some answers?
Well, let's look at our ten key values: Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice
and Equality, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community-based
Economics and Economic Justice, Feminism, Respect for Diversity, Personal and
Global Responsibility, Future Focus and Sustainability.
Which system would you expect to do a better fix? Better still, would a GREEN
economy have created our present problems?
*Stiglitz includes what he calls "liar loans" with the other "innovations" and
quotes Warren Buffet's labeling of derivatives as "weapons of mass destruction." VANITY
FAIR, Jan., 2009. **Tony Clarke, SILENT COUP, Confronting the Big Business
Takeover of Canada, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, and James Lorimer