Jon Stewart Stuart keeps asking his guests about his idea of giving the bailout money to the people that are having trouble paying their loans instead of the big banks that sit on it by giving themselves big bonuses. He suggests giving the money to the poor by cutting payrolls taxes and they’ll spend it right away. And he’s not alone, consumer advocate Ralph Nader has suggested that and much more.
How did we get into this mess in the first place?
In a demonstration on Wall Street which can be seen in a DVD titled, "WALL STREET: Greed Brings the House Down", Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez took on Wall Street.
Gonzalez described how the media was portraying a story line that there was one party for deregulation and one party for more regulation; he said that simply wasn’t true. During the Clinton administration, regulations which have been in place since 1937 were over turned.
The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 was signed by Clinton and it abolished the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial banking from investment banking. Before leaving office in 2000 Clinton also signed the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. Nader predicted the market meltdown 8 years ago. He says if we’re not careful things could get worse, but he has some big ideas of how to get the country moving in the right direction.
How bad can things get?
Unfortunately instead of change, Obama has surrounded himself with the retreads from the Clinton administration that created this mess in the first place and he helped pass a bailout that had no real oversight provisions. The first $350 Billion in bailout money is being used to reward the very people that wrecked the economy with huge bonuses and the institutions that were “too big to fail” are now using the money for more mergers.
In this article Nader warns of the ongoing concentration of power. “As the public focus is on how much, when and where all this money should be spent, there are very serious consequences to be foreseen and forestalled. First, consider how much more concentrated corporate power is occurring.’
He continues, “Remember the anti-trust laws. Obama needs to be their champion. The fallout from the Wall Street binge is likely to lead to a country run by an even smaller handful of monopolistic global goliaths.”
According to Nader, in all the hundreds of pages of stimulus bills, there is nothing that would facilitate the banding together of consumers and investors into strong advocacy groups. We have long proposed Financial Consumer Associations, privately and voluntarily funded through inserts in the monthly statements of financial firms.
Nader blames a lack of government oversight of the banking industry. "But there's a spectacular opportunity that comes from the severe crisis. It's a chance to reregulate law and order on top of these giant corporations."
How do we get out of this mess? Reregulation and tax speculation
Today the consumer advocate said there is a constant struggle between Wall Street and Washington, and Wall Street has a way of rolling over Washington. "But now Washington, as a trustee for millions of American taxpayers and hundreds of billions of dollars, has to take control of the situation," Nader said. "We have to crack down on big banks."
He says there’s an opportunity to reregulate law and order on top of these giant corporations and a placing a small tax on speculation would allow Wall Street to pay for its own bailout, but it will take an engaged citizen solution revolution. “American workers need to learn about this proposed tax policy and ram it through Congress. Tell your Senators and Representatives-no ifs, ands or buts. Otherwise, Wall Street will keep rampaging over people's pensions and mutual fund savings, destabilize their jobs and hand them the bailout bill, as is occurring now. “
He says extending unemployment compensation and expanding the food stamp program produces consumer demand and is the fastest way to get the economy back on its feet. He suggests taxing things we don't like (pollution) first and taxing things we need (food and income) last.
According to the man honored by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the twentieth century, “A few minutes spent lobbying members of Congress by millions of Americans (call, write or e-mail, visit or picket) will produce one big Change for the better. Contact your member of Congress. The current financial mess makes this the right time for action."