Fort Mill Times

Gallimaufry - March 26, 2008

Jeff Shrewsbury is a freelance writer living in Fort Mill. You can see an archive of his other opinion columns for the Fort Mill Times at his blog jshrewsbury.blogspot.com," or you can contact him at gallimaufry@comporium.net.
Jeff Shrewsbury is a freelance writer living in Fort Mill. You can see an archive of his other opinion columns for the Fort Mill Times at his blog jshrewsbury.blogspot.com," or you can contact him at gallimaufry@comporium.net.

It's fascinating to me how many of the same people who actually believe Ronald Reagan's racist fantasy that there are "welfare queens" out there having as many babies as possible so they can collect welfare checks and drive around in Cadillacs, don't seem to have any problem at all believing that the government should bail out billionaires who have driven their businesses into the ground and our economy to the brink.

The recent meltdown of the credit and mortgage industries and the bailout of Bear Stearns are classic illustrations of the results of 30 years of extremist conservative economic policy and yet more examples of the failure of the modern conservative movement. The philosophy of hands-off neo-liberalism espoused by Milton Friedman and championed by Republicans and Democrats alike since Nixon and Reagan began their full frontal assault on labor rights and government regulation in 1970s and 1980s, just doesn't work.

The conservative movement has been very good at public relations slogans, but is very bad at serving the public.

It sounds like a great thing to say you want lower taxes and less government, but in practice all that has really meant is billionaires pay a smaller tax rate than their secretaries, corporations benefit from moving offshore and government has abdicated its responsibility to protect all of its citizens - ala Enron, the tragedy of Katrina and the gutting of regulatory bodies such as the FCC, EPA and the FDA.

Seems some would rather have polluted water, tainted meat and toxic toys than even consider government oversight.

I'm not advocating a Stalinist system of communism mind you, but let's be clear: a certain amount of regulation is necessary. The idea that has been dominating public policy for 30 years that corporations will inherently do the right thing because the markets will force them to, is just plain wrong. When you give people whose only aim is to make as much profit as possible total free reign, they're not going to regulate themselves. Period.

They're going to push the boundaries as far as they can until something snaps, and then we either bail them out or watch the economy tank.

And worst of all, to view those at the bottom of the economic ladder who actually need help as somehow being leeches for looking to their government for assistance while condoning the protection of billionaires who play fast and loose with other people's money, is not only immoral, it's laughable.

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