Monday, July 18, 2011

All That Money Can Buy

As the doinoees continue to fall in the Murdoch Saga -- the latest are Rebekah Brooks and Britian's top police officer, Paul Stephenson -- we are reminded yet again that our institutions, both public and private, have been corrupted by money.

The idea that money corrupts is certainly not new. But perhaps what is new -- at least to some -- is the idea that  more money concentrated in fewer and fewer hands leads to political and social paralysis. If anyone doubts that proposition, consider the debt ceiling debate currently taking center stage in the United States. E.J. Dionne writes in this morning's Washington Post that, while this debate has been brewing, Congress has not been focused on the real world:

The most obvious problem is unemployment. The best way, short term, to drive the deficit down is to spur growth and get Americans back to work. Has anyone noticed that Americans with jobs can provide for their families, put money into the economy — and, oh yes, pay taxes that increase revenue and thus cut the deficit?

There is no mystery about the steps government could take. Ramping up public works spending is a twofer: It creates jobs upfront and provides the nation’s businesses and workers the ways and means to boost their own productivity down the road. 

Instead, the powers that be have been working hard to, as Paul Krugman  also writes this morning, "let the bankers walk" because, they argue, not doing so would hold the economy back. But what's holding the economy back is "the overhang of household debt, largely created by the $5.6 trillion in mortgage debt that households took on during the bubble years."

Politics -- on both sides of the pond -- has become a protection racket. Money buys protection for the wealthy, whether they be the Murdochs or the big banks. And, as long as governments devote themselves to the concentration of wealth, it will always be so.

Dionne suggests there is a solution to the problem -- if voters are wise enough to figure out that they have been had:

Every member of Congress who got us into this debt-ceiling fight should be docked six months’ pay. They wasted our time on political posturing instead of solving problems. Better yet, the voters might ponder firing them next year. This could do wonders for national productivity.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


ck said...

I agree 110% with what that Dionne article says. However, what can voters do? Particularly in the US where both Democrats and Republicans are in the pockets of corporations (no spending limits for election campaigns there) and the wealthiest. Granted, the Democrats are the lesser of the evils and have proven to be better fiscal managers than the Republicans over time, but assuming average American voters wake up and smell the coffee, who can they vote for?

I fear that it is too late for Obama to win a second term in office, not that he deserves it, however, he is lesser of the evils than the stable of GOP candidates running in the Republican primaries. Hello President Bachman? EVen Mit Romney is proving insane with his "less taxes provides more revenues".

I was pleased to see some senior citizens doing ads on American TV channels, telling congress not to cut medicare and social security, but rather to cut the waste and loopholes. Not sure how far it'll get them, but perhaps, just perhaps, it'll be viewed by enough average American TV viewers to wake them up.

Owen Gray said...

If there's any good news in the Murdoch story, ck, it's that people like Murdoch eventually cross a line and, suddenly, everything changes.

It was OK to snoop on celebrities. It was even OK to snoop on the queen. But hacking the phone of a young murder victim was unconscionable.

One can hope that will also happen in the U.S.

ck said...

Yes, good point. Milly Dowler was somebody's daughter. Not the daughter of a dignitary; nor the daughter of a politian,some business tycoon or celebrity or a member of the royal family. She was the daughter of an average working British family. Inexcusable.

I hope you're right. I talked to my old history professor and former broadcaster here in Montreal, Graeme Decarie. He isn't as optimistic. He thinks another Murdoch will pop in his place and resume where he left off.

Owen Gray said...

I can understand Graeme's pessimism. Corruption is like athlete's foot -- it will never go away.

On the other hand, it's nice to see someone stand up for the little people for a change.