What’s the difference between anarchy and deregulation? With anarchy, at least the public can fight back against the powers that be! Deregulation, the way it’s been carried out in America for the last three decades or so, has created a new and unique kind of anarchy. It’s a one way anarchy where the entities in power can carry on just about any way they want and the people of this alleged democracy have virtually no way to fight, control or stop them from taking complete advantage of the situation. In a functional democracy; we the people would have our government of elected officials we had chosen pass laws and regulations that would limit the behavior of corporations and industries. But across the last thirty years, the private entities that fund the political campaigns of the Federal, state and local government officials, have gained all but complete control of whom, how, and when public officials get elected. In turn these privately funded officials are owned by their benefactors and do their bidding; to the exclusion of the best interests of the people.
Think I exaggerate? Think of the Citizens Untied case in which the SCOTUS gave corporate entities the status of citizen, just like you and me. With this right they can now put as much of their money as they want to, any where they want to, in the American political system. This is despite the fact that you can read the U.S. Constitution from beginning to end, and you will find references to we the people; but not a single instance of references to special interest groups, industry associations or any other corporate or private conglomerate entity as a citizen, with any kind of rights comparable to a real human citizen. The simple test (and ultimate weapon we have to save our democracy) is we the people are the only real citizens, and as such; we can vote and they can’t. And we had better vote in favor of our best interests, before they take that right away from us.
The money buying power of private corporate entities is the force behind the radical deregulation this country has suffered. Laws and regulations that were established to prevent the anarchy of private corporations doing whatever they wanted to, including ignoring the individual and property rights of the American people, were eliminated to allow the Corporate Citizens to increase their profit and thus acquire even more power. The examples and consequences are many and frightening.
The airline industry is one of the most graphic examples of an industry gone wild with power. In their entire history, since commercial public flights began in the mid-nineteen thirties, the industry as a whole has not turned a profit. Yet executive salaries have been enormous and stock holders have made money; how can that be? The explanation lies in the simple words; Massive Government Subsidies and Bailouts! Each and every time the airlines have had a problem making money; they go hat in hand to the Federal government and request assistance. And they get it; to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars across the years. That is in addition to the government providing all sorts of support through the FAA and other agencies. And what does Washington ask in return for all this largess? Nothing that in any way helps the American people. In fact Washington acquiesces to industry requests for increased deregulation.
The result of deregulation has been a flight (pardon the pun) of airlines from smaller, less profitable routes; leaving small cities less competitive in trying to attract new business, investments and jobs. It also has allowed unbalanced and unfair airfares from market to market, with the carrier’s hubs gaining advantage and everyone else losing. The ultimate result of deregulation is the airlines feel so free of restraint on their actions they can throw aside seventy years of providing the transportation of a passenger’s luggage as part of the fair, and make a family of four pay an extra two hundred bucks to get their bags to and from Disney World. It has also let the airlines think they can leave passengers on the tarmac for hours on end without food, water or clean toilets; because it would cost them money to move the planes which are empty, out of the gates and make room for the passengers to get off the plane before they get sick.
Virtually every other country in the world also subsidizes their airlines; but in exchange they make the airlines provide adequate service to the entire country, to keep the fares balanced and proportionate and to treat the passengers as the human beings, with rights. We are the only country that seems to feel that the privilege of public economic support (corporate welfare) doesn’t come with some constraints and responsibilities to the people who are making it all possible.
The banking and financial industry is the next group of corporate public trough feeders that one thinks of, when deregulation is the subject. The unprecedented amount of public money that went into bailing out and sustaining the Wall Street Gang, should have bought the public some accountability and in turn, indictments for those responsible. But not a single person of all the thousands of criminals, big and small, involved in the bad mortgages, bad derivatives, criminal malfeasance of their fiduciary responsibility to their clients, etc., has gone to jail. This unconscionable mess was a direct result of deregulation.
Time was when there was a law enforcing strict separation between regular banks that handled public customer deposits, loans, etc. and the investment banks that handled stocks, securities, etc. But at the urging and primarily due to the substantial political contributions of the investment banks; the U.S. Congress eliminated this law separating the two kinds of banks. The investment banks then grabbed up the regular banks and had access to their huge consumer deposits on their balance sheets. With looser margin requirements; the Wall Street banks could then underwrite the wild and crazy derivatives with much less cash set aside. The rest is the sad, criminal history of trillions of dollars being redistributed from individual and group pensions to the pockets of bank and brokerage executives, shadowy hedge fund people, and other crooks. Not a single penny has been paid back to any of the tens of millions of Americans who lost their life savings or chances for a reasonable retirement. It was a disastrous, but predictable, yet un-avoided result of deregulation.
Perhaps the most dangerous and potentially deadly example of deregulation is the exemptions to the Clean Air and Water Acts and the Safe Drinking Water Act given to the oil and gas industry. How, one might ask, could the industry that is one of the dirtiest and most responsible for environmental pollution be given an exemption when it comes to the health and safety of the nation’s air and drinking water? The explanation is; Vice President Dick Cheney met secretly with Oil and Gas Company executives to map out a secret national energy plan. Critical parts of the plan were then passed into law by the U.S. Congress in 2005, which at the time had a Republican majority in both houses. President Bush signed the legislation and low and behold; the EPA no longer had the power to enforce Clean Air or Safe Drinking Water regulations against the O & G industry. This bizarre deregulation may have the result of the O & G international conglomerates being allowed to extend the filthy, dangerous process of Fracking, which has contaminated water supplies from Texas and Wyoming to West Virginia and Pennsylvania, into New York State and endanger the water supply of more than 20 million people, from New York City to Baltimore.
This is deregulation that goes beyond mere economic anarchy, all the way to environmental barbarianism. It puts big money, big time corrupting corporate entities in the position of making profits not from just monetary thievery, but from the actual destruction of the environment and the health and safety of the people living there. This is deregulation that allows multinational corporations to run roughshod over the basic principals upon which this country is founded. This is the abdication, by the Federal government, of its most basic and important duty; to protect the rights and lives of the citizens of this country. This deregulation has gone way too far to be allowed to continue. The right of the people to protect themselves from, what are no less than enemies domestic and foreign, must be preserved and enforced in the laws of this land. To keep our democracy viable; the anarchy of deregulation must end. And right now!