"We do big things". One of the central themes in President Obama's State of the Union address, "we do big things" was a reminder to all of the strength, character and ability of the nation. "We do big things" was a call to action for renewed innovation and creativity that defined much of our progress in years past, but these words were also a resounding call to appreciate and honor the American spirit. The day after this State of the Union speech, the NY Times ran a front-page story titled: "The Financial Crisis was Avoidable." If we now distinctly know who was responsible for this economic debacle, and it is in fact time to do big things once again, the people can no longer be the scapegoat for corporations that are still laying off and demonizing workers at such a pivotal point in our country.
"The 2008 financial crisis was an 'avoidable' disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry," is the opening sentence to the NY Times' cover story. According to the piece, the inquiry found fault with the Federal Reserve, two Fed chairmen -- Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke -- other governmental officials, Wall Street regulators, the SEC and more for the economic calamity we are still suffering today. As this article clearly highlights, it was those in positions of power that failed to halt this inevitable financial meltdown, and -- more importantly -- failed to alert the rest of us of the impeding implosion.
More than two years following this preventable, unfortunate catastrophe, the people are continuing to suffer. In addition to nearly 10% unemployment across the board, with astronomically higher rates for Blacks and Latinos, corporations are still laying off and freezing workers. When workers clearly did not cause this crisis, why are they the ones to bear the brunt of its impact? If it was the lack of oversight and greed of a select few, why must the majority be demonized? And why at a time like this, do we have talk of cutting pensions and eliminating other rightfully earned benefits of workers when the benefits of those responsible are never called in to question? In fact, their benefits have only increased.
On Thursday, the full breath of this 576-page report will be released and we will all openly witness the extent to which an avoidable disaster has instead crippled the nation and the world at large. President Obama undoubtedly did much to prevent our economy from plummeting into complete oblivion. It was a rough two years, but as he so eloquently reminded us in his State of the Union address, the idea of America endures. But in order for America to rectify its financial state and our place on a global stage, the onus cannot be on the middle-class or the poor. Those that were responsible for the pain and suffering of the populous must now take ardent, immediate steps to repair and rectify our current situation. The president cannot do it alone; we must hold guilty parties accountable and we must put in to place mechanisms to prevent the same mistakes from occurring ever again.
As the president so aptly stated: "We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything is possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from."
We must ensure that this fundamental American concept doesn't get lost in the voracity of the culpable.