The biggest problem facing our country is that special interests have captured our government and the government no longer listens to the will of the people. Let me walk you through the logic of starting a new third political party to address this problem and end corruption in our government. Of course, you can easily come up with lots of reasons why this is a difficult task, but the magnitude of the problem requires that we take this on. The system is so corrupted that it is impossible to reform it from the inside through the existing two major political parties.
First of all, it is becoming more and more clear each day that big business, especially the banks and Wall Street, pretty much control our politicians. There is nothing to be gained by arguing over which political party is more at fault; both are taking donations from big business and meeting regularly with industry lobbyists and, regardless of what they say, it is affecting how they vote on important issues of national defense, our country's solvency and the future prosperity of our people.
As a matter of fact, all this Democrat versus Republican infighting among Americans who all care deeply about their country seems to me completely fabricated and supported by the real enemy, the big bankers and corporations who want us at each others' throats. They, like I, know that the people, united, will never be defeated, so they are doing everything in their power to make sure we never get united.
When we argue about guns, abortion, gays, race, welfare, religion and other topics that seem important, but take our eye off of the fact that these big banks and big corporations are stealing trillions from us annually, I honestly think I can hear them laughing at us. I would love to be a fly on the wall at one of their favorite watering holes when they talk about how gullible and stupid the American people are for letting themselves get taken for all of their hard earned income so easily. How they must laugh that we have lost our jobs, our incomes, our pensions and our homes and we still don't get it. They will take our last dollar unless we act to stop them.
And the results of this industry lobbying are devastating. The biggest lobbyists before the crisis were Fannie and Freddie that wanted to get into highly profitable subprime lending and the banks who wanted unlimited leverage, the repeal of Glass-Steagall and no regulation over their derivative activities. They got their wish, they got the gold and we got the shaft. Crazy levels of lending by these banks on really stupid terms set us up for a bubble and eventual burst that has destroyed the global economy.
Now that unemployment has skyrocketed and home foreclosures have exploded, these bankers' response is to pay themselves record bonuses and spend inordinate amounts on lobbying to make sure no meaningful reform of derivatives or restrictions on bank leverage are enacted. They have the gall to suggest that poor people somehow caused the crisis even though poor people couldn't afford a sixth of a one-bedroom condo in either Miami or Vegas in 2005.
Who thought it would be a good idea to put our workers in competition with dollar-a-day labor in dictatorial non-democratic countries like China? Our corporations and their lobbyists. Who thought it would be a good idea to allow unlimited numbers of undocumented immigrants into the country regardless of their impact on wage rates? Our corporations and their lobbyists. Who thought it would be a good idea to bust our unions and make individual janitors and carpenters negotiate their wages with entire companies, industries and local, state and federal governments. Our corporations and their lobbyists. They have convinced us that "union" is a dirty word, and why not? Without unions, corporations and banks have grabbed all the value added from the increases in worker productivity as real workers wages have stagnated for thirty years.
The biggest lobbyists during the healthcare debate were big insurance companies that wanted to make sure that they would continue to reap record profits from any proposed "solution" to the rapidly escalating healthcare costs in this country. The pharmaceutical industry wanted to make sure that younger generations and taxpayers were on the hook for the increasing cost of drugs, that the government couldn't negotiate their purchase in bulk and Americans couldn't buy them in Canada or Mexico.
The country is in the midst of a debt crisis debate, but congressmen are so afraid of weapons manufacturers and their lobbyists they refuse to even consider the nearly $1 trillion a year going to defense, intelligence and homeland security; the largest operating cost of the government, by far. They speak in languages unfamiliar to me claiming that tax cuts for the rich will generate more tax revenue or that spending government money on private contractors programs will somehow magically reduce, not increase the deficit.
Rather than reform the banks that caused the recession and caused the deficits, lobbyists are telling us that it is the elderly and the sick that caused the government deficit. I have news for you: Social Security and Medicare raised more money than they spent this year so are completely budget neutral and Social Security has raised $5 trillion more than it has spent since its inception. Both programs have funding issues that need addressing over the next fifty years, but these funding issues have nothing to do with our current government deficit or our debt levels today.
Our media is dominated by for-profit businesses that rely on big corporate sponsors for their life blood so will never do or say anything to offend them. Even our public television and radio are becoming more and more dependent on corporate contributions and donations from corporate executives so are losing their voice on this important issue. PBS and NPR are increasingly becoming dominated by pablum-spewing programming about anything but corporate malfeasance for fear of alienating big business and the congressmen they control.
Sadly, even academia is not immune. More and more economists and business school professors make more money annually advising and consulting banks and big corporations than they get paid to teach their students. And supposed think tanks are nothing but paid shills for the defense industry, the banks and other corporate sponsors. Not surprisingly, almost all academics remain strangely quiet when it comes to critiquing the banks' lame programs for banking reform.
Of course government itself is a big part of the problem, but what we fail to realize is that its biggest problem is that we have allowed it to be infested with corporate money and lobbyists. The Tea Party has it right: our government is broken, but the solution is not less government regulation of our banks and corporations. That will only make the problem worse. Maybe individual Americans are feeling the pressures from too many government rules, too much intrusion into their privacy from credit reporting agencies and the like, but I can assure you, the banks and the biggest corporations in our country are feeling no similar pains. For how much they complain about unnecessary regulation, they travel the globe pretty much unrestrained by any one country's rules or even one country's taxing authority.
It is time to launch a new political party, one with a very simply stated but enormous task, to get the special interest money and lobbying out of our government. And for now, I would keep the new party's platform that simple:
- No representatives or candidates or elected officials of the new political party can take money or meet with corporations, banks or their lobbyists. They and their staffs can only meet or discuss government matters with constituents from their own districts.
I think we will find that once we get corporations out of policy making, Americans will agree more than you might think on issues of importance to our families, our children and their future.
What is the first step? Are we ready to start taking names of people ready to volunteer for the cause? No. Are we ready to suggest that people take to the streets and bang their pots and pans? Not yet. The first step is to distribute this story broadly any way you can and see if we can find some deep pocketed individuals that will help finance the initial start-up costs of the effort. To jump-start the effort, I would think something like $200,000 to $300,000 is needed, so middle-income folks need not apply. Eventually we will grow much larger with $25 and $50 donations, but right now we need a couple of whales to write a couple of big checks to get us up and running on the internet. The future of the country depends on it. Do you have anything more important to do with your money?
John R. Talbott is a best selling author and consultant. His new book is mandatory reading for anyone interested in learning the real reasons for this crisis and how to protect yourself going forward. You can read more about John and the new book at www.stopthelying.com or at amazon.com. Information for media contacts is available at www.stopthelying.com.