The Issue that Unites Conservatives and Liberals
While many pretend that liberals and conservatives are too far apart to work together, there are actually many issues on which everyone can agree.
Conservatives tend to view big government with suspicion, and think that government should be held accountable and reined in.
Liberals tend to view big corporations with suspicion, and think that they should be held accountable and reined in.
Conservatives hate big unfettered government and liberals hate big unchecked corporations, so both hate legislation which encourages the federal government to reward big corporations at the expense of small businesses.
Most Americans – whether they are conservative or liberal – are disgusted that virtually all of the politicians are bought and paid for. No wonder people of all stripes have lost all trust in our government.
And everyone hates government-enabled fraud. The big banks, of course, committed massive fraud. But the auditors, rating agencies and regulators also all committed fraud, which helped blow the bubble and sowed the seeds of the inevitable crash.
Both liberals and conservatives are angry that the feds are propping up the giant banks – while letting small banks fail by the hundreds – even though that is horrible for the economy and Main Street.
The Dodd-Frank financial legislation wasn’t a compromise where things landed somewhere in the middle between liberal and conservatives ideas. Instead, it enshrines big government propping up the big banks … more or less permanently.
Many liberals and conservatives look at the government’s approach to the financial crisis as socialism for the rich and free market capitalism for the little guy. No wonder both liberals and conservatives hate it.
And it’s not just the big banks. Americans are angry that the federal government under both Bush and Obama have handed giant defense contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton no-bid contracts. [And Solyndra and other solar companies]. They are mad that – instead of cracking down on BP – the government has acted like BP’s p.r. spokesman-in-chief and sugar daddy.
They are peeved that companies like Monsanto are able to sell genetically modified foods without any disclosure, and that small farmers are getting sued when Monsanto crops drift onto their fields.
They are mad that Obama promised “change” – i.e. standing up to Wall Street and the other powers-that-be – but is just delivering more of the same.
They are furious that there is no separation between government and a handful of favored giant corporations. [Indeed, Ben Bernanke has handed out more presents than Santa Claus to McDonald’s Harley-Davidson, hedge funds and others.] In other words, Americans are angry that we’ve gone from capitalism to oligarchy.
As I noted Sunday:
The corrupt, giant banks would never have gotten so big and powerful on their own. In a free market, the leaner banks with sounder business models would be growing, while the giants who made reckless speculative gambles would have gone bust. See this, this and this.
It is the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress who have repeatedly bailed out the big banks, ensured they make money at taxpayer expense, exempted them from standard accounting practices and the criminal and fraud laws which govern the little guy, encouraged insane amounts of leverage, and enabled the too big to fail banks – through “moral hazard” – to become even more reckless.
Indeed, the government made them big in the first place. As I noted in 2009:
As MIT economics professor and former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson points out today, the official White House position is that:
(1) The government created the mega-giants, and they are not the product of free market competition
(3) Giant banks are good for the economy
And given that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private – see this, this, this and this– the giant banks have a huge amount of influence on what the Fed does. Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Indeed, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chase – is a Director of the New York Fed.
Any attempt by the left to say that the free market is all bad and the government is all good is naive and counter-productive.
And any attempt by the right to say that we should leave the giant banks alone because that’s the free market are wrong.
The [corrupt, captured government “regulators”] and the giant banks are part of a single malignant, symbiotic relationship.
Indeed, while most Americans are in favor of free market capitalism, we don’t have capitalism at the moment. Instead, we have socialism, fascism or crony capitalism, where the government allows a handful of companies to succeed by propping them up, covering up their fraud and handing them guaranteed profts … but allows everyone else to struggle.