THE BLOG
03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

American Companies Face Increased Government Control

Everywhere you look, there's another take on the U.S. relationship with China. To me it recalls
one of the strongest images in English culture. Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty, the arch-villain, locked in a mutual death grip as they go together over Reichenbach Falls. Don't take this too literally because I would not assign either the U.S. or China to the Moriarty role. It's the mutually fatal struggle that pertains. China needs Americans to continue to buy their manufactured goods so they keep loaning us money we can't pay back. Consumption continues as the debt mounts right alongside.

American corporations haven't had as much leeway since the late 19th Century. That was the Gilded Age before the first era of American progressive reforms. And corporations have used their freedom to off-shore jobs, create phony investment schemes, get no-bid government contracts, present executives gigantic income (not salary that's taxed at a higher rate), and back-date zillions of stock options and generally run amuck. Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, Blackwater, Countrywide, Cigna. I won't mention Cisco's problems down in Brazil.

I used to work for a tech company that lost its CEO to the option back-dating. The dishonor role
is lengthy. At a time when even the hint of government regulation is descried across the land
by corporations and right-wing propagandists, isn't it a wee bit ironic that many major American corporations are peddling themselves to foreign governments? This is corporate socialist welfare of the most foolish sort. Would our grandparents have allowed Peron or Franco or Mao to buy into major American banks? Increasing government ownership of major American corporations is almost inevitable, but it won't be the American government. A Saudi prince is recycling U.S. gasoline money to own a piece of Citicorp. Singapore has a chunk of Merrill Lynch. It will be competitors, or in the case of the Gulf States, our oil pushers. Dubai can't own
our ports but China can own Morgan Stanley?

The total of foreign investments was $400 billion last year.

In itself it's not bad for other countries to send their money to America, that's been happening for decades. But much of it now comes from sovereign funds controlled by foreign governments. The great Japanese run on America some twenty years ago was led by private corporations, liable to whatever corporate regulations existed at the time. Exactly what control can the U.S. exercise over a sovereign fund be it Chinese, Singaporean or Norwegian? What kind of financial disclosure do you think we'll get from foreign governments?

America's a country that has gotten a political rash at the very hint of socialism. Let's remember that America has repeatedly turned away from universal health care which other industrialized nations found a way to provide. Why? Because the opponents effectively labeled it "socialized medicine" and that was just the first step on the slippery slope to communism. And so health insurance became forbidden at the national level.

As we proceed to pedal our real estate and corporations to the cash-rich nations of the world, I suggest every American who plans to live at least another ten years should take note. Your children should be outraged. The U.S. is now an economic colony of oil countries & cheap
labor countries. A partial reading list:

A look at how our own spending and collective greed has pushed the nation into an economic
hole. A look at what the writer calls "Richistan."

The recent "NYTimes" piece already pronouncing an end to American hegemony, less than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was sure short-lived.

How India's private companies are finding the U.S. a good investment.

A piece by Greg Palast on the eviction of Americans from the U.S. economy. Our economic
problem is not a iceberg, but what he calls a "debt-berg."

China's approach to buying into U.S. financial businesses.

James Fallows on The Atlantic's website explores what our trillion-plu$ debt to China means. And what it could portend. He clearly explains that the wealth pouring into China is NOT being funnelled to the population. It's being largely held by the rulers, and managed to grow even more capital. Crafty "communists."

There was a brilliant recent posting here on Huffington Post about the business and cultural
price we shall pay for being beholden to China. A China where individualism has almost zero
value.

And here's a discomfiting look at the price the entire planet is paying for China's increasing pollution.

Meanwhile our salons in D.C. are trying to agree to give each of us $600 so we can spend it on goods made in other countries or leave a slightly bigger tip at McDonald's. Why don't they take that money and buy back a couple "American" banks. Or maybe open some factories to make fluorescent light bulbs in America so I don't have to buy ones from China? Meanwhile China and the U.S. have each other in an economic and ecological death grip. The planet does not have an endless capacity to support consumption or absorb pollution. That roar you hear is the waterfalls we seem determined to reach.