Saturday, October 25, 2008

High Time; The Future Is Here

Friday is for Bill Moyers' Journal as well as catblogging, and last night's guest, James Galbraith, was a great choice. He and Moyers talked about the disaster the right wing has visited on this country, and what we will need to do to recover. It is in no way easy, but there are some paths that will need to be taken. Men like these will be coming back into government, which is one of the best pieces of news I know.

We are going to hear a great deal in the next few weeks about the need for a stimulus package. And a lot of people will be talking about how they will be conceding that the government should get involved short term.

But what needs to be stressed is that we've seen a breakdown of an entire system. The consequence of the failure of regulation, of supervision of the banking system over the past eight years, has been to cause a collapse of trust, a poisoning of the well.


JAMES GALBRAITH: Of trust, yes. Banks -


JAMES GALBRAITH: Banks no longer trust each other because they no longer know whether their counterparties are solvent. Customers no longer trust the banking system. Banks no longer trust the people who would like to borrow from them for commercial purposes. This is a poisoned well. It is going to take a fair amount of time for it to be cleaned up.

BILL MOYERS: Fair amount of time? What do you mean?

JAMES GALBRAITH: My feeling is, if it is done correctly, aggressively, effectively, we could begin to work out of it in three years. But it is not a problem that's going to be solved with a six-month program.

BILL MOYERS: What scares you most right now?

JAMES GALBRAITH: Well, a week ago or two weeks ago I would have said the possibility that Phil Gramm might become Secretary of the Treasury.

BILL MOYERS: Your former Texas soul mate, right?

JAMES GALBRAITH: Yes, exactly. Yeah. We have a contest between a philosophy of deregulation, of de-supervision, a philosophy of anything goes. Gramm himself was the architect, a deep architect of the speculative markets that have just collapsed. And an alternative which says that there really has to be a pragmatic approach to these problems. And that's a choice the American public obviously is going to be making in a few days.
BILL MOYERS: You call your book THE PREDATOR STATE, what do you mean predator?

JAMES GALBRAITH: What I mean is the people who took over the government were not interested in reducing the government and having a small government, the conservative principle. They were interested in using these great institutions for private benefit, to place them in the control of their friends and to put them to the use of their clients. They wanted to privatize Social Security. They created a Medicare drug benefit in such a way as to create the maximum profit for pharmaceutical companies.

They used trade agreements to extend patent protections for various interests or to promote the expansion of the corporate agriculture's markets in the third world. A whole range of things that were basically political and clientelistic. That's the predator state.

BILL MOYERS: You call it a corporate republic.

JAMES GALBRAITH: It is a corporate republic.

BILL MOYERS: Which means that the purpose of government is to divert funds from the public sector to the private sector?

JAMES GALBRAITH: I think it's very clear. They also turned over the regulatory apparatus to the regulated industries. They turned over the henhouse to the foxes in every single case. And that is the source of the decline in, the abandonment of environmental responsibility, the source of the collapse of consumer protection, and the source of the collapse of the financial system, all trace back to a common root, which is the failure to maintain a public sector that works in the public interest, that provides discipline and standards, a framework within which the private sector can operate and compete. That's been abandoned.

The hard work has begun, pulling this country out of the worst hole its ever been in. The government's work being done by committed and honest men will soon be returned.

There has been a time when the country was in danger, and it has shown voters what we on the left have known for some time. The war criminals know what they are offering to do is really bad for this country. They will tell any lie to get power, and use that power to squeeze every last drop out of the country, even the lives of its citizens, for personal gain for themselves.

We have learned the hard way, and the path back goes uphill. As long as we have great minds and character in our leaders again, we can get back.

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Blogger tech98 said...

We have learned the hard way

Many of us saw this coming years ago. It took years and years of compounding disasters to knock some sense into people who were paid not to understand, and the thick skulled who view the choice of administration of government as a decision to be made on the basis of puerile cultural conceits, and the pathological self-indulgence of choosing a candidate so stupid and inarticulate as to not make them feel inferior, someone they "want to have a beer with".

11:22 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

True. The left has seen what a lie deregulation/voluntary regulation is from the beginning. Now we have irrefutable proof.

6:54 AM  

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