The precipitous fall of America's financial markets is about corporate corruption, yes, but the real story is government complicity in the disaster. Of course, that story gets lost in the shuffle of bankruptcy announcements, investor rage, and most of all, moral grandstanding by government officials who claim to want to fix the system. But it is precisely these people who have feigned indignation and moral righteousness after the fact who weakened the system and removed the safety mechanisms that might have prevented this disaster in the first place.
My friends Ralph Nader and Bob Borosage have been trying to get this real story into the American media. In recent weeks, they have been succeeding. Hooray!
Ralph's column "Corporate Socialism," appeared July 18 in the Washington Post:
"Corporate crime, fraud and abuse have become like the weather; everyone is talking about the storm but no one seems able to do anything about it. This is largely because expected accountability mechanisms -- including boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and legislatures -- are inert or complicit."
Bob Borosage is co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, and one of my most reliable reality checks in the Washington progressive scene. His op-ed, "The Conservative Bubble Boys" which appeared in the July 8 edition of the Post is also brilliant:
"What laissez-faire, anti-government zealots did by trashing government, cutting regulatory budgets and authority, and blocking needed reforms was to weaken the cop on the beat.
Markets require rules. We have to do more than lock up a few corrupt corporate executives. We have to clean out the misguided conservative politicians who helped create the conditions in which the corrupt could thrive."
Bob says if the problems are going to be solved -- if the United States is to avoid a complete financial meltdown from a total loss of investor and consumer confidence -- the conservatives and regulators will have to let go of their cozy relationship with industry, abandon the watered-down reforms pre-approved by the very corporations that created this mess in the first place, and make friendly with the liberals on the other side of the aisle.
In his article in the Los Angeles Times July 8 entitled "Capitalism's Best Pals: Liberals," Bob writes:
"Financial giants are discovering that if they want to save capitalism from itself, they'll have to rely on liberals to lead the way."
Democrats, meantime, have to wean themselves from the teat of campaign contributions. Both Republicans and Democrats received huge influxes of campaign donations from the accounting industry. It is only the very far left in Congress calling for significant reforms without caving to industry. Bob says these liberals are the only potential pied pipers who could finally lead the vermin out of Washington.
Thanks to Ralph and Bob for sneaking the truth into the pages of America's media. It's about time.