Our political system must be one of the most corrupt in the industrial world. Our politicians don’t represent us anymore. If you want any kind of representation, you better belong to a large corporation or pressure group. If you are just an individual voter — forget about it.
Here we are in a first class financial crisis. Fortunately, the last big crisis that we had was in the 1930s. I think that most historians and economists agree that it may not have been the fault of President Hoover, but his insistence of having government not interfere with business clearly made the situation worse. When president Roosevelt came into power the unemployment was 25 percent of the American workforce. Having such a large majority of his own party in power, he was able to push through a number of spending programs. From 1932, with the exception of one year, he steadily brought unemployment down to 12 percent by 1940. At that time, congress authorized a large defense build up which brought unemployment down even more. Spending so much money might not have been ideal — but it did work.
What about that “one year”? Well, there were a lot of well meaning conservatives that just felt we were spending too much money. So, by 1937 they were able to convince a majority of congress to stop the spending. Immediately, the unemployment went up. From that point on, they kept quite.
Now, we have a congress that seems to be completely ignorant of history. The bailouts started under President Bush worked amazingly well. It would seem that a group of people of any reasonable amount of intelligence would want these programs to continue. Not our congress. It seems to be more important to them to make the president look bad, than to do something for the American people.
In 2008, congress passed an act which restored the Glass-Steagall Act. It was felt that Glass-Steagall — passed in 1933 — did a lot toward reigning in some of the excesses on Wall Street. It worked for a lot of years, but was repealed in 1999. By 2008 we had our current recession. The act was restored much to the dismay of the banking industry. The Republicans and Democrats who were receiving huge donations from the bankers tried to stop the reinstitution of Glass-Steagall, but failed. From that time until the present they have been chipping away at it with some success.
I wish I understood why it is that a lot of the American population is content to do almost nothing. I was impressed with the Occupy Wall Street movement. I don’t expect to see much happening during the cold winter months but, hopefully with the coming of spring, the movement of last fall will continue. It seems to be the only way that the politicians will pay attention.
Pay attention, yes, but will they do anything. So far things are pretty disappointing. I am sure that some of our politicians are simply ignorant, but they know who are paying the bills — it is the banking industry, and that’s whose drummer they march to.
More to come.