Congress is hemming and hawing over financial reform, no doubt weighing up the cost of too little reform vs. too many lost campaign contributions. Meanwhile, while the best jobless workers can hope for is an extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed, it's not just the jobless who are slipping under the bus -- it's all workers. As Robert Reich pointed out this week, real wages are falling -- even as hours and “productivity” are rising. And the White House keeps on hoping that the private sector will do the right thing about all of this.
President Obama met with billionaire financier Warren Buffett at the White House this week, right after a meeting with Bill Clinton. Did the two of them give him advice on how to suck up to financial elites?
The reality is, no amount of sucking up is working. Taxpayers have bailed out private banking, and the mortgage industry, and the financial sector. Congress has gone as softly softly as they can on regulatory reform. And still the the world's wealthiest aren't spending.
According to a London consulting firm, wealthy investors (those with more than a million lying around) have more than $26 trillion they could be giving out in investments -- growing companies, growing payrolls, even potentially growing wages (?!) -- but they're not doing it. On the corporate side, non-financial U.S. corporations are holding more than $1.8 trillion. This is a 26 percent increase from the year before — the largest increase since 1952 according to the Wall Street Journal. The Great Recession's happening simultaneously with great hoarding.
Big money won't do "the right thing" because as far as they're concerned, they're doing it already. Capitalism's working well for them: people are working harder, for less, producing more, with fewer workmates. No reason they'll shift and no sign of it either.
When the balance between the powerful and the powerless gets this big what we need isn't sucking up (or standing back), it's standing tough: Government action for the people to re-balance the equation. Anybody care to run on that this November?
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.