By Larry Hamp
Bernie Madoff's huge 'Ponzi” rip-off goes a far piece toward proving the case against deregulation of the economy....any and every economic sector and aspect. What regulations and regulators there were and are have failed us miserably—across the board. Many credible sources warned the feds of Madoff's criminal activity, but were pooh-poohed or ignored; incriminating documents very likely shredded and burned in one of the GOP's many furnaces.
Don't look for 'near-zero' percent federal interest rates to impress the population. Credit-card companies are using the economic doldrums to double and treble interest rates on customers—even some with perfect credit records. Chrysler Corp. is selling Jeep products “half-off”. Few speak or write of it, but the Japanese have kept government interest rates just a hair over zero for nearly ten years, to no avail.
The slippery-slope principle is in charge—at least for the moment. ( I remember writing of this economy's shallowness/brittleness at least a half-dozen times through the last five years).
Congress erred in trusting Bush and the Treasury Department first to bamboozle then stampede them into granting singular control over 350 Billion dollars—no strings attached—with only a vague promise to relieve home mortgage problems giving the mess downward impetus. The whole amount, ever last nickel, is gone. All went to big finance, big insurance, big stock-jobbers (manipulators, if you're not familiar with the term) (1) . No mortgages savaged to date I've heard, seen, or read about.
Indeed, it's getting pretty tough for the less fortunate among us, now. It's apt to get worse, and rather sooner than later. I wish Bush would resign early, let the new man get a jump on our deteriorating economic situation; the world's deteriorating situation. I expect obstructionist Republicans will drive more nails into the party's coffin through coming months.
A tired-out John McCain looks like an outlandishly over-sized, worn-out 'Kewpie-doll', with crudely animated (Mr. Bill-style) lips and jaw line, and one arm making spasmodic attempts to execute a Roman military salute. He still sounds and acts ignorant (as ever) of matters economic. The Republican idiots and their thieving big business friends forgot how Murphy's Law pertains to every human endeavor.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, India and Pakistan are watching one another over open gun-sights. Both are massing troops and armaments in areas near their common borders. They hate each other.
The Brits, withdrawing from 'empire' left a hell of a mess in the region. Out of spite, one suspects. If so, they can be pleased with the results though I doubt that they are since one disputant or the other could easily touch-off nuclear conflict, possibly of a world-wide nature.
Pakistan is a crazy state,claiming to be a democracy, but ever leaning toward the military 'strong-man' style of leadership. Every rogue state with nuclear weapons, or a developing nuclear program has bought the necessary technology from Pakistan. Among them are North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and...., possibly (probably) others. They (their military at least) are far to cozy with bin Laden's al-Quaeda for democracies to be comfortable, or complacent.
India is a monstrous can of worms. In response to centuries-old conflict with China they've developed a very large, modern military including land, sea and air forces. Like China, India boasts a huge heterogeneous population of over a billion souls. Across Inia large masses speak one or more of 23 major languages, another 20 tongues are common enough to require recognition, and another 50 are spoken by yet smaller segments of the population.
Among India's many practicing religious groups are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddists, in addition to at leas hundred-million animists. Despite abolition of the 'caste' system in 1955, many hundreds of millions are still saddled by the appellation (and actuality of) “untouchables”.
The border between India and Pakistan could very easily, considering India's hatred of Pakistan and fear of China, become a flash-point leading to international nuclear conflagration, and it could all happen very quickly—as quick as some hot-tempered air-head can push a button. My guess is Pakistan will be first to shoot the nuke.
Now, back home, again. I'd like to see Caroline Kennedy in Hillary Clinton's senate seat. The Kennedy's are a public-service oriented family and have done fine work for America (though, like most families, with flaws). Edward, after many false starts, has become a terrific Senator. The country lost a (potentially) great President with Bobby's assassination, and JFK's civil rights program (pushed through by LBJ) opened the door for Obama's age-shaking, epoch-making victory. Joseph, Jack and Booby all died serving America—I'd bet on Caroline Kennedy's willingness, as well. It's a family in which 'the right stuff' comes naturally.
1. Muck-raking journalists coined the term 'stock-jobber' during the great South
Sea Bubble scandal in the late 18th, early 19th century Britain. High ranking civil officials failed in their regulatory duty as many greedy fingers rummaged the pie. Everyone who was anyone, believed fortunes were just a ship's docking away.
It was a good thing the Brits had a war going vs. Bonaparte or their economy would surely gone to hell in a hand basket. The poor suffered deeply as their formerly wealthy employers went belly-up.