Saturday, October 25, 2008

Institutionalized Criminality and Right Winged Free Market Ideology

Is free-market economics, free, when the price of money is manipulated? Does free-market economics include allowing banks and corporations to grow so big that they cannot fail?

Over the years, the Federal Reserve, consisting of a few wealthy bankers, meet in secret to set the price of money (interest rates), and control and direct the money supply with absolutely no oversight. Doesn't this fly in the face of the free market?

Then, to top it off, in the last year alone, the Federal Reserve has taken on even new powers. The "invisible" hand seems to be quite visible.

So, having established that "free market" economics the right proclaim is the answer to all of life's problems isn't as free as they say it is, where does institutionalized criminality fit into the picture?

Just take a look at what's happening to the corporate "criminals", in large part, responsible for this crisis. Is anyone facing prosecution? No, because they have not broken any laws. Why? Those laws have been systematically removed over the last 35 years. Or to put it another way, the greedy, "profit at the expense of the people" actions that have damaged our society far more than the all of street crime combined, were legalized, in the sense that none of the actions are against the law. Hence crime incorporated itself into our well-established system. At the same time, the laws and penalties for crimes committed by those of us not so well off have increasingly become much more stringent.

This process of embedding corporate governance that would eventually lead to and provide fertile ground for corporate "crime" to flourish as part of our financial system began when Ronald Reagan started to apply the 1960s' grassroots tactics to destroy FDR's new deal when elected Governor of California and then, President of the U.S. in 1980. Reagan foresaw that his interpretation of what a "free market" economy is (Reaganomics) could not exist in a framework of law and order that required rules, regulation, and enforcement. He had to change things.

Reagan's true power to implement his vision came not from an iron fist, rather from his ability to camouflage his motives and agenda with a benign and grandfatherly persona. How could such an affable, likable man create mean-spirited policies that subsidized the wealthy on the backs of the poor? Just try imagining Mr. Rogers as a serial killer. It's just not possible, or is it?

Anyway, Mr. Reagan went to work galvanizing Americans, by using simplistic and deceitful rhetoric, charm, and subliminal messages. He encouraged we the people to worship at the alter of the almighty cash register, and to become the best consumers we could be. Revering wealth and the wealthy - picture Robert Schuller's $19.5 million Crystal Cathedral - while at the same time, hardening our hearts to those less fortunate, lead to the gradual elimination of social safety nets, and chipped away at the "New Deal", which steadily increased the gap between the richest and the poorest Americans.

But why make Ronald Reagan the primary villain? After all, he's such a hero to so many. Well, without Ronald Reagan's vision and leadership, deregulating the economy and disenfranchising the poor may not have spiraled out of control to accommodate his form of "socialism" for the wealthy thinly disguised as "laissez-faire" capitalism.

So, as we witness the collapse of right winged free market ideology, it becomes apparent that its success depended on institutionalizing crime, or as some may prefer, the institutionalization of cheating and greed. However when you consider the immense damage that has resulted, not only in the United States, but all around the world, the only word that comes close to describing what went on for the last three decades is crime, pure and simple. And since this form of crime cannot be prosecuted, it appears it was most definitely institutionalized so that former President Reagan's beatific vision could materialize for those who deserved it, the filthy rich.

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