Monday, September 29, 2008

How Our Government is Abusing Democracy: The Bailout Bill

Glenn Greenwald wrote on his blog about why the proposed $700 Billion taxpayer dollar payment -- demanded by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (to be paid to him with very little accountability, and which would likely be paid to his buddies in the banking business who made the poor decisions that caused the collapse) -- is not unlike the other examples of how the recent Administration has undermined the democratic process. These are his 10 principles, which all recent crises our country has faced have in common:
  1. Incredibly complex and consequential new laws are negotiated in secret and then enacted immediately, with no hearings, no real debate, no transparency.

  2. Those who created the crisis, were wrong about everything, drive the process. Experts who dissent from the prevailing Washington orthodoxy, particularly ones who were presciently warning about what was happening, are simply ignored -- systematically excluded from the process.

  3. Public opinion is largely ignored, as always, and public anger is placated through illusory, symbolic and largely meaningless concessions.

  4. The Government begins with demands for absolute power so brazen and absurd that anything, by comparison, seems reasonable ... [P]eople thus end up grateful for what is, by any measure, an extreme outcome, all because it's not quite as extreme as what the Bush administration began by demanding.

  5. Wall Street, large corporations and their lobbyists own the Federal Government and both parties, and (therefore) they always win.

  6. The people who run the Washington Establishment are drowning in conflicts of interest.

  7. For all the anger over what Wall St. has done, the Government -- as it bails them out -- isn't doing anything to rein in their practices.

  8. When the Government wants greater and greater power and wants to engage in pure corruption, it need only put the population in extreme fear and it gets its way in every case.

  9. On the most consequential and fundamental questions that define the country, the establishment/leadership of both political parties are in full agreement, and insulate themselves from any political ramifications by acting jointly.

  10. Whenever you think that the Government has done things so extreme that it can't top itself -- torture, theories of presidential lawbreaking, a six-year war justified by blatantly false pretenses -- it always tops itself.


I believe these behaviors are what emerges when self-interest is allowed to run rampant; when key rules of democracy designed to reduce corruption are eliminated, business and government become indistinguishable. Democrats and Republicans become indistinguishable. All that's left are rich people (and their friends) doing what's best for themselves and fooling everyone else into believing all is well. Unfortunately, THIS is what needs to be changed.

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posted by Brian at 12:35 PM

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