The Business of Government is Now Business

About a year ago a bill became law in the United States. A law whose purpose was to reform Wall Street, banks that were “too big to fail,” and better protect the American consumers from the abuses that rained upon their heads following the 2008 collapse of the economy.

If you recall, a major cause of the Great Recession was the failure of governments, state and federal, to regulate Wall Street and the banking industry. Those failures permitted investment and commercial banks to make millions of toxic housing loans and resell them in bundles called derivatives. Also permitted was allowing vulnerable consumers to be sucked into mortgage agreements they could neither understand nor afford.  When the mortgage bills came due the housing bubble burst and Humpty Dumpty fell off his wall.

In the year since the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed it has yet to be fully implemented. What has happened is Wall Street has spent in excess of $1.3 billion dollars lobbying to pull the teeth out of the law and get on with business as usual.

The opponents of reform and regulation have managed to stop President Obama’s appointment of Elizabeth Warren as director of the Consumer Protection Agency and effectively preventing the agency to organize itself into a viable voice for consumers.

The obvious point of this is the excessive economic power held by America’s major corporations. There seems to be no limit to how much money they can muster in their fight to remain unfettered by ethics, principle, or social responsibility. $1.3 billion is a huge amount of money and I can’t conceive of any individual or group representing the consumer’s cause that could even come close.

This is but one more example of big money being the grease that lubricates the squeaky wheels of government. It is exactly what former president, Dwight Eisenhower, warned of when he spoke about the dangers of an industrial complex. One in which the boundaries between government and business become so blurred that the business of government becomes business.

Kind of like Al Capp satirically said years ago in the comics, “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA.”

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