It’s The Free Market, Stupid

Occupy Wall Street - Day 12 - September 28, 2011 - photo by David ShankboneRonald Reagan, in his first inaugural speech, quipped the now famous line:

government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem

It’s a great sound bite for sure, but what does it really mean? In what respect is government the problem? Which department or branch? All of the above?

The truth is that the private sector – the free market – is responsible for many of the problems we’ve faced in the past and it’s responsible for many of the problems we face now. It takes government to set up the rules, regulations and framework for the market to work effectively and not consume itself by greed and corruption.

In the past it was child labor, unsafe working conditions, low wages and 7 day work weeks, just to name a few problems created by the free market. In addition, by the early 1900s there was a huge consolidation of wealth in the hands of only a handful of Americans. It is the labor movement through labor unions and government legislation – and ultimately The New Deal – that is given credit for improving working conditions and wages for all Americans through much of the rest of the 20th century.

In the present it is the private sector – Wall Street – utilizing capitalism when it works for them and then turning to government – tax payers – for a bailout when their greed brings the economy and the country to the brink of another great depression. We might have avoided a second great depression but we have not avoided a second great wealth consolidation that is now several decades in the making.

It is not government that pollutes the water and the air, it’s unregulated or under-regulated private industry.

It is not government that creates poverty, it’s the wealthy, powerful elite that shape the rules to their benefit and the detriment of everyone else.

It is not government that allows people to die because they lack health care insurance, it’s our current free market health care system that has no concern or mandate for universal coverage.

Less government regulation benefits only a narrow group of wealthy people. Regulations exist for the benefit of society. Regulations exist so that the powerful elites cannot take advantage of society for their own personal gain. Individuals do not lose their personal freedom because of Wall Street regulation or credit card regulation or universal health care. But those few wealthy elites who want the 300+ million to believe that government is the problem also want you to believe that anything government does will lessen your personal freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth in a democracy by the people.

The only thing that threatens your personal freedom is allowing those wealthy elites to continue to wield the power they do on our democracy. So stop listening to their message! It starts by turning off Fox News and conservative talk radio, owned and operated by these same wealthy elites, otherwise known as the 1%.

It’s time for the other 99% to take back our democracy. It’s time for people to stop voting against their own economic interests by voting for the many Republicans – and some Democrats – that only show concern for the 1%.

Just like the labor movement, it’s going to take a movement to effect the change required to take back our democracy. Will such a movement happen? It could be happening now with the Occupy Wall Street protests. Time will tell if we are witnessing the modest beginnings of a real movement for change.

GovernmentThe 'Free' Market

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